Starting next month, Ontario will expand access to in vitro fertilization (IVF treatment) by lifting the old requirement that only women with blocked fallopian tubes could get the procedure. All forms of infertility will now be eligible. According to a government press release, this will help an additional 4,000 Ontarians grow their families each year. Moreover, eligibility is regardless of sex, gender, sexual orientation or family status. This is welcome news for those who require fertility treatment, which is estimated to be one in six couples.
Women under the age of 43, after speaking to their health care provider to determine if IVF treatment is the most appropriate family-building option for them, will be eligible for IVF funding. (For clarity, under the age of 43 means 42 years plus 364 days.)
Every eligible woman will be entitled to one IVF cycle per lifetime. This starts with an egg retrieval, which often yields more than one egg, and therefore more than one embryo. If so, all of them will be implanted in the womb, but one at a time. This avoids the problem of multiple-births, which are high-risk.
“Infertility is a serious issue that affects thousands of Ontarians who have dreams of starting their own families,” says Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care (pictured left). “Children are our future and, by creating a more equitable and accessible fertility program, the government is supporting family-building for those who couldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to have children.”
The announcement was welcomed by Sandra Alsaffawi-David, Director of Conceivable Dreams, and patient representative on the Advisory Process on Infertility Services. “This sends a clear and powerful message that infertility is a legitimate health issue and medical condition,” she says. “Our message to the thousands of Ontarians and Canadians suffering silently is to talk to your doctor and learn the facts about infertility – you can safely have a healthy child and the government will be there to help. It is our hope that similar policies and programs will soon be enacted in other provinces throughout Canada.”
Bill Rogers is a Toronto-based lawyer, journalist, and family law mediator.
(note: this blog is NOT legal advice)