Quebec’s government health care will now fund IVF for surrogates hired by gay males
MONTREAL, May 1, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A controversy has been kicked up in Quebec after it was revealed that the province’s cash-strapped public health care system approved funding for IVF treatments for a woman who contracted with two gay men to bear a child for them.
While Quebec already paid the costs of IVF for infertile women, single women, and lesbians, in this case, the funds will be disbursed on behalf of the gay men themselves. Homosexual males had argued that not funding IVF surrogacy for male couples was discriminatory.
Popular Quebecois media personality Joel Legendre and his “husband,” Junior Bombardier, announced the policy change on Facebook earlier this week, saying that they were expecting twins via a surrogate mother – a friend of the couple’s who was implanted with babies conceived from donor eggs, not her own.
Legendre said he was thankful to “an extraordinary woman” and “technological advances” for making the pregnancy possible.
Previously, Legendre had adopted a baby boy, Lambert, in 2004. The child is now 11.
Legendre said in a radio interview that he was determined to make sure the costly IVF procedure was paid for by his own health coverage, and not the woman’s, because he believes the government owes it to gay couples to give them the same opportunities to have children as it offers heterosexual and lesbian couples.
“It was impossible for two men,” he said. “It’s completely discriminatory.”
At first, the Quebec health insurance board balked, refusing his request multiple times. So, Legendre contacted his national assembly member, Jean-François Lisée, who intervened on his behalf. Within a week, Legendre received a call from an aide to former health minister Réjean Hébert who said, “we opened everything, and now gays can have children if they want.”
The decision has been met with mixed reactions in Quebec. While some homosexual male couples have jumped at the chance to have taxpayers foot the bill for the costly surrogacy process, many people are outraged that an already bloated health bureaucracy is now taking on these voluntary, expensive cases. Quebec spent $67 million on IVF in the last year alone. Each attempt costs $4,750, and fewer than half of attempts result in a live birth.
The case has also confused legal observers, who note that for ethical reasons, Quebec explicitly forbids surrogacy arrangements in which money changes hands, and does not recognize surrogacy contracts at all.
This means that essentially, the province is now funding a practice it considers illegal.
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The newly elected provincial health minister, Gaétan Barrette, has slammed Quebec’s IVF policy as “an open bar” and demanded a review of the program upon his election.
“I think the population expects that public funds – people’s taxes – be managed with rigour,” he said.
The review is expected to be complete in May.