Infertility and health care: After a little searching on the Government of India website , I found that they do have an “infertility control program”. Unfortunately it is only for cattle. And this being the attitude of our public sector health insurance Cos.:
New India argued that these procedures were expensive and did not require hospitalisation. More significantly, the argument went, infertility was not a disease as in such cases it could be a result of, among other things, stress MEDICLAIM exclusions: Congenital external disease, sterility, venereal disease, intentional self-injury, use of drugs, alcohol, rest cure etc
Please note the other conditions infertility is clubbed with. Implications being- either we brought it on ourselves through poor lifestyle choices, or we are infertile because of some inherent defect and should not be procreating anyway. To be fair, pregnancy or its complications are not covered either.
So much for all the comments about health insurance for surrogates. Reproductive health insurance doesn’t exist for anyone and the Govt. doesn’t consider it necessary. Are our so called Womens advocates addressing these issues at all?
ART and infertility: Here as a background I quote from SAMA’s booklet on women’s health rights:
The women’s movement thus had played a crucial role in systematically campaigning against hazardous contraceptives, coercive population policies and sex selective abortion. However, there had not been systematic engagement of the movement with Assisted Reproductive Technologies making our understanding of these technologies and their implication on women inadequate. It is important to understand the context in which these technologies are used, uses/abuses to which they are put to and the implications that these have on women’s health and lives. This is because, where at one level there is unavailability of necessary medical technologies, at the other level there is over medicalization. What becomes fundamental for the women’s movement is to question the social stigma associated with infertility. But simultaneously also to deglamourise these technologies by bringing in the real picture of low success rate, side effects of the hormonal drugs that are used in the treatment and anguish of women undergoing treatment. Given the pace at which these technologies are invading lives of women, these issues cannot be left unattended by the ongoing women’s movement of the country.
PLEASE-before the judgmental and hysterically paranoid condemnation (over medicalisation) of ART let there be a minimum understanding of the technology and the real causes of infertility and the effects of infertility on the lives of women and men. There is nothing glamourous about ART or the infertility it treats. Media reports on ART are full of misinformation,moralistic judgement,bias, ridicule ,denial of the medical realities behind an inability to conceive in the vast majority of cases, and blatant Victim-blame of the patients and demonization of both patients and the medical professionals involved.
The pain caused by infertility, however, is not restricted to ‘Social stigma’. The longing for having a baby goes deeper than worrying about what society thinks. A success rate of 20-45% per cycle is a definite improvement over a 0% chance of natural conception in most cases. Side effects of the drugs are easy to bear compared to the emotional pain of infertility and the physical pain of some of the conditions that cause it.
ART did not invade our lives. Infertility did. We embrace the technology with the grateful thought that at least it gives us some hope and more options than previous generations of women had.
(This post is based on the discussion from the previous posts here. It is an attempt to understand how infertility is being addressed/understood by the Government, Womens organization, patients and by the majority/fertile. Since ART involves multiple participants, it is necessary to understand the different perspectives of each group, before highlighting/pinpointing the drawbacks in the draft regulations, that can then be sourced as effective, viable feedback to ICMR.)