Banning Fertility Treatments For Single Women Should Be Illegal

pregnant womanI admit it: I have a romantic, if not unrealistic, view of Europe. Whenever I envision the (majority of the) countries there, I think dinners at midnight; wine with everything; topless beaches; and, of course, solid health care. In spite of my love for America, I've always thought things were more laid back across the sea, more progressive, dare I say -- a bit easier. Well, turns out they're not in some departments. Some aspects of European living are downright antiquated. And, no, I'm not talking about hygiene, I'm talking about their fertility treatment bans.

Unlike America, some European countries enforce strict rules when it comes to who exactly can receive fertility treatments. For instance, France and Italy won't allow single women and lesbian couples to use artificial insemination or IVF to conceive. And practically everywhere in Europe, couples are banned from hiring a surrogate. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. What the hell, Europe?


The restrictions -- which also include Austria and Italy banning all egg and sperm donations for IVF; Germany and Norway banning donating eggs, but not sperm; and Sweden, couples having to prove they've been in a stable relationship for at least a year before qualifying for fertility treatment -- have women hoping to get pregnant, and experts, fired up.

Dr. Francoise Shenfield, a fertility expert at University College London, referred to the bans as "discriminating against infertile couples," and added: "These laws are completely out of date. It's a medical treatment and the decision to treat should be up to doctors." And Marie Eriksson, a 36-year-old single mother in Sweden, summed it up best by saying: "Having a child is not a right, but the possibility should not be forbidden because you don't have a partner."

The whole thing really doesn't make much sense -- it's pretty sad when you think about it. And it is discrimination. Why shouldn't single women, women who have gotten divorced, lesbian couples, be able to have children? Why should the government be able to make that very personal decision for them? I imagine that coming to the conclusion that you want a child when you can't have one isn't something that's decided flippantly. Fertility treatments (or finding a surrogate) are going to take a lot of time, energy, and of course, money. I'm pretty sure it's something that's well-thought out.

The fact that that lots of people are up in arms about these outdated laws is encouraging. Hopefully, at the very least, some of these discriminatory bans will be lifted and women -- all kinds of women -- will be able to have the children they've always wanted.

What do you think of bans on fertility treatments?


Image via Nina Matthews Photography/Flickr

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