By Alex Temblador
A Spanish lesbian couple, whose names have not been released, went to Fundación Jiménez Diaz, a hospital, to receive IVF treatments under a financial assistance program that Spain’s Ministry of Health had enacted in 2013. The couple was denied financial assistance on the basis that they didn’t have a male partner, a stipulation of the financial assistance fertility program. Six months later, the couple was told that after reviewing their case, the hospital decided to make an exception to the rules and accept them into the program. The lesbian couple decided to sue for discrimination against their reproductive health rights and “so that no other woman who opts to be a mother will be discriminated against by the public health system.”
A few years ago, Spain’s Ministry of Health and regional governments of Spain created a program that would provide financial assistance for fertility treatments to couples who had spent 12 months trying to have a baby through sexual intercourse and were unsuccessful. “The exclusion of single and lesbian women was rejected at the time of its inclusion by the regional governments of Andalucía, Asturias, the Basque Country and the Canaries, as well as various associations representing gays and lesbians,” states Spanish News Today. Thereby, lesbian couples (and single women) would be unable to use the program because they were without a male partner. The Health Minister Ana Mato of that time stated that, “the lack of a male is not a medical problem” and therefore does not require treatment. It also was backed up by potential savings of 54 million euros for excluding lesbian couples and single women.
The couple is suing the Ministry of Health, the regional government of Madrid, and Fundación Jiménez Diaz. The couple’s lawyer explained that the program is discriminatory to single women and lesbians and that the denial of her client reduced her chances of becoming a mother. The woman who wanted to carry the child was 39 years old and being denied financial assistance for IVF reduced her chances of getting pregnant due to time passing.
Lawyers on the opposing side (the Ministry of Health) argued that Spain’s regional governments made their own choices on accepting or denying the reproductive financial assistance program and including such aspects as exclusion of lesbians or single women. They cited that Valencian lesbian couples can receive fertility treatments with government assistance as an example.
However, the lesbian couple has remained strong and wishes to see all women, regardless of their sexual orientation or relationship status, have the chance of receiving financial assistance from the government for fertility treatments just like their heterosexual married counterparts can. The case was heard on Monday, September 14th, and the ruling will be given at a later date. A ruling that we hope will bring justice to all women across Spain and end discriminatory reproductive health practices.