A healthy choice: funding in-vitro fertilization
TheStar.com – opinion/editorialopinion
Published On Sun Aug 14 2011. By Heather Mallick, Star Columnist
When you want a baby, I have noticed, then a baby is what you want. And a baby is what you will have, despite a recalcitrant partner, no money in the bank, a leaky roof over your head, who cares, you want that baby and you want it now.
Equally, a woman who doesn’t want a baby will risk death not to have it. The coat-hanger image we pro-choicers use isn’t symbolic. Pregnant women use them. Wanting or not wanting a child growing inside your body is a woman’s decision, part of her internal drive.
This is why the Quebec government’s decision to fund in-vitro fertilization for women having trouble conceiving was wise. It not only acknowledged a deep human need, it took a stand for infant health. Women would get three tries at IVF, free of financial terror, and in most cases one embryo would be implanted, not multiples.
Families without free medical care frantically try for multiple embryos, hoping to improve their odds. But twins and triplets “are 17 times more likely to be premature and often require neonatal treatment and special care throughout their lives, taxing the health care system,” as the Star’s Wendy Gillis has reported.
That’s what happens in Ontario still, thanks to the government’s ill-considered decision not to fund IVF. Quebec women don’t have that pressure on them, the kind of fear that makes athletes take steroids to win the race. Quebec health care is kind. It is rational and better for the future of our country and those babies, who will grow up without health problems from Day One.
I fight for women’s rights, and one of them is for women, alone or with partners or families, to have children to love.
A 2009 panel recommended taking the Quebec route. Premier Dalton McGuinty was sympathetic. Suddenly all smiles stopped. No change, no sympathy, no money.
Health Minister Deb Matthews says the long-term cost-saving numbers are only estimates. But I’m wary. She uses the phrase “within the fiscal context.” I do suspect this means that with the Ontario Conservatives against all government spending, or “gravy” as we now call it, she has a fall provincial election to consider.
It is a government’s job to make decisions that will help us all 20, 50 or 80 years from now. But Hudak’s Tories think only of how current spending will sell. Like the U.S. Tea Party, it is more about protesting than governing.
It is strategically difficult for McGuinty and Matthews to do the smart thing just before an election where citizens are being goaded about their “tax dollars” being wasted on things that will pay off only in the future: green initiatives, therapy for autistic children, healthy IVF babies.
All this is irrelevant to women who want to give birth and need medical help to do so.
I admit I am biased here. I adore babies and small children. I’m the passenger who puts up her hand on a transatlantic flight. “Put the crying baby in my row. “
I turn to the jerk who complained to the flight attendant about the noise. “I’ll give you something to cry about.”
I’m sorry, I just like babies. Adults, not so much.
But babies don’t vote. If they did, they’d vote for their parents, who would probably appear on the ballot as Hairy and Smooth. They’re infantile, they can’t even register “mom” and “dad” yet.
Like Conservatives, babies look out for the interests of the few, in their case themselves, The Babies. They don’t care about The Babies 20 years from now, mainly because Hairy just took them to Fresco Gelato and they are smiling with bliss, and mango and pistachio.
With babies and Conservatives, it is all about now.
With babies and Quebec, it is all about now and later.
Ontario should go the Quebec route and fund IVF. It might also help stop people from complaining about Canada’s low birth rate, which would rise if we didn’t make life abominable for people who—desperately, wildly, lovingly—want to have children.
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