Meanwhile I reproduce here a piece from the Toronto Star that covers some of my views on IVF and such matters. Following the article is a link to a site where IVF proponents vent their anger and arguments against my views.
There are two things in Ashley Bulley-Arbos's house she always wanted, but feared she would never see.
"We had them set up at five months," says Bulley-Arbos, now seven months pregnant with twins thanks to in-vitro fertilization. "It was pretty exciting."
Married to her high school sweetheart, Bulley-Arbos never had any doubt she wanted children. Not many, but she knew she would never feel complete if she didn't have kids with the man she loves, Adrian Arbos.
More than that, she says, it's her right to be a mother – and she wasn't going to let a little thing like infertility get in her way.
"It's not a want, it's a need for me," she says. "If I hadn't ever got pregnant, I could never be happy."
The 25-year-old is now an active member of Conceivable Dreams, a support group for couples needing medical help to get pregnant.
Tomorrow, Mother's Day, the group will lead a march at 10 a.m. from City Hall to Queen's Park with 200 women pushing empty strollers to demand that the province fund in-vitro fertilization. Quebec recently announced that it would soon begin funding up to three IVF cycles per couple.
Bulley-Arbos's friends and neighbours rallied to help her and Arbos raise two-thirds of the $15,000 cost for IVF. She will speak at the rally – dubbed the Pram Push – to tell her story of relying on bake sales, community barbecues and a Bands for Babies charity concert to raise the money.
"It took us a while to get over that we were going to charity," she says.
No one, Bulley-Arbos says, should have to rely on handouts to pay for a medical treatment. "It should be anybody's right to have a baby. This is a medical procedure," she says.
Not everyone agrees.
"It's a perfectly private matter, it's a private interest," says Udo Schuklenk, a medical ethicist at Queen's University.
Being a parent is not a right, he says.
It's a personal choice that the rest of society should not have to pay for through their taxes, he says.
"People die from preventable illnesses because of the way health care resources are allocated."
Schuklenk understands the instinctual desire to produce offspring, but says that does not make it a human right.
"From there it does not follow that there is a moral claim on others to foot the bill," he says. "It's selfish."
Christine Overall, a feminist ethicist at Queen's, warns that if women had a right to be mothers, men would have a corresponding right to be fathers. At that, she says, would allow men to demand that a woman become pregnant, throwing out decades of progress on contraception and abortion rights.
"If someone has a right to be a parent, that implies an obligation on the part of someone else (to also be a parent)," she says. "You don't have the right to the gamies of another."
She does, however, support full funding for IVF, saying it would be unethical to deny some women access to a medical procedure on the basis of ability to pay.
"It should be provided on an as-needed basis," Overall says, adding the question of whether a woman has a right to be a mother needs to be separated from the right to IVF.
"It's not a matter of a right to be a parent. It's a matter of a right to access to a medical procedure."
Overall also worries that if women had a right to be mothers, the medical system would become obligated to do everything possible to fulfill that right, including endless rounds of IVF.
"It's wrong to say you have a right to be a mother, because you can never guarantee a baby," she says.
Having worked in medical clinics in South Africa for five years, Schuklenk says there are children around the world growing up orphaned or in terrible conditions who would have a better life if people in the western world chose adoption over IVF.
But that's not likely to happen, he says, if IVF is easy to get. Besides, he says, those who object to paying for IVF on their own should realize that it costs about as much to raise a child as it does to buy a house.
"And yet, they are not willing to make that initial investment (of paying for IVF)," he says.
Bulley-Arbos, whose twins are due Canada Day, is a firm believer that IVF should be covered under medicare. With a household income of about $60,000, she says, the day-to-day costs of raising a child are affordable, but not a medical procedure that would eat up a quarter of their income.
A recent study found that it would actually be cheaper for the Ontario Health Insurance Plan to cover IVF than to continue the current user-pay system.
That's because parents going through IVF tend to get more than one embryo implanted to boost the odds of one going to term. But with IVF improving, more embryos are surviving to birth – leading to a jump in multiple births.
And because multiple birth children tend to have more medical problems throughout their lives, they require more from the medical system.
Health economics analyst Lindy Forte found that each multiple birth child costs medicare an extra $598,000 over its lifetime. Because of that, she says, funding single-implantation IVF cycles would save the Ontario health care system up to $130 million a year.
Beverly Hanck of the Infertility Awareness Association of Canada says any funding of IVF would include limits on the number of embryos being implanted.
"The ultimate goal is one healthy baby," she says.
Back in Tilbury, Bulley-Arbos says it's not just prospective parents who suffer in cases of infertility.
When her brother and his wife found out they were having a child – before Bulley-Arbos was pregnant – he was reluctant to share the good news for fear it might hurt his then-struggling sister.
Likewise, she says, her parents were "devastated" by the troubles she was having becoming pregnant.
"It's not just my husband and me," she says.
Bulley-Arbos says she is trying to give "something back" for all the community support she received in her efforts to get pregnant, and has dedicated herself to pushing for full IVF funding in Ontario so that any woman can become a mother.
"My story has a happy ending," she says. "Not everybody gets their happy ending."
... and the link to the IVF user site (it seems that that's what it is): http://forums.weddingbells.ca/showflat.php?Cat=0&Number=3744872&Main=3744538