TORONTO, Ontario, September 14, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – As Ontario’s debt load continues to grow unabated, the Minister of Health in Premier Dalton McGuinty’s government says they are still considering funding the controversial in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedure with taxpayer dollars through the provincial health plan.
“We are not closing the door to it. … We’re taking some important steps,” Deb Matthews told QMI Agency Tuesday.
In August 2009, a government-appointed panel led by Gov. General David Johnston, then-president of the University of Waterloo, called on the province to begin funding up to three rounds of in vitro fertilization for women up to 42 years old, estimated at $10,000 per cycle. Currently, Ontario only covers IVF for women with both fallopian tubes either blocked or missing.
The panel also called on the government to fund the freezing of embryos, and said assisted reproductive technologies should be open to all, including single men through “gestational carriers.”
“The panel did a wonderful job and they concluded it would be a fiscally responsible thing to do,” Matthews told QMI Agency. “We just simply don’t have the information to verify that.”
She said they are monitoring the situation in Quebec, where IVF began receiving funding about a year ago.
While the scheme would seem to impose an immense strain on the health system, Johnston’s panel argued that it would be cheaper in the long run because couples would implant fewer embryos at a time, and so it would decrease the number of multiple births and the corresponding expensive complications.
Yet the panel dismissed the great health risks associated with the IVF procedure. Babies born from IVF have a much higher chance of birth defects, including heart valve defects, cleft lip and palate, and digestive system abnormalities. The British government’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority warned in 2009 that IVF babies have a 30% higher risk of genetic abnormality. According to a 2010 French study – the largest yet on the subject – assisted reproductive technologies double the baby’s risk of deformity.
The process of IVF has been heavily criticized by pro-life advocates in large part because in each round, while numerous children are conceived to improve the chances of implantation, those remaining are simply “discarded” or frozen.
Critics of assisted reproduction maintain that children are meant to be conceived through the mutual love of husband and wife in the conjugal act, saying that it violates the child’s dignity for him or her to be conceived in a laboratory.
Further, they warn that it reduces newly-formed human life to the status of a commodity. Interestingly, the panel’s report criticized the federal Assisted Human Reproduction Act because it restricts the commercialization of human sperm, eggs, and embryos.
At the same time, the Ontario government pays the full cost for many thousands of Ontario women to abort their unwanted babies each year. Consequently, the number of babies available for adoption is very low and it is very difficult for childless Ontario couples to find a child to adopt.