Six months ago, Ana Ilha knew her biological clock was ticking. She just didn’t know it was ticking so fast.
But when the Ontario Health Insurance Plan would not cover fertility treatments because of the source of her problems – at 37, her eggs were running out abnormally fast, a condition called a low ovarian reserve – she decided to take action.
She and her husband, University of Ottawa professor Amir Attaran, filed a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario on Monday. They argue OHIP’s policy is discriminatory, since it covers in vitro fertilization only in limited circumstances.
“It’s a medical condition like any other,” Ms. Ilha said. “Couples like us should not have to suffer financially in addition to suffering emotionally.”
Their case is part of a debate in Canada’s two largest provinces, and it could soon spread across the country.
In Quebec, high-profile TV personality Julie Snyder, the wife of Quebecor CEO Pierre-Karl Péladeau, urged the province to cover IVF treatments. She made a documentary about infertility and put pressure on politicians.
In April, Premier Jean Charest’s government announced that it will fund three IVF cycles for couples, making Quebec the only province to do so.
Seang Lin Tan, a fertility expert at the McGill University Health Centre in Montreal, said one in eight Canadian couples struggles with infertility.
“What’s frustrating, is that people who would be good candidates are routinely told they have to dig into their pockets,” Prof. Attaran said. “I’m fortunate, law professors get paid decently. But that’s not true for everyone.”
After a year of trying to conceive, the couple paid $6,300 for one IVF treatment at an Ottawa fertility clinic. A further $6,500 in drugs was covered by private insurance…
What this means is that ordinary working families will pay for the fertitlity treatments of aging, infertile women who put their careers before children. So what if they made that decision themselves based on their own ideology? They didn’t do anything wrong, and no harm done. Except the tens of thousands of dollars that must be taken from ordinary Canadians dying while waiting for critical care on a waiting list.
Meanwhile, men who get prostate cancer in Canada are 184% more likely to die than in the USA. But women are much better off in a single-payer system – breast cancer mortality is only 9% higher in Canada than in the USA. Everyone is equal – but some people are more equal than others.