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Health Costs Will Never Be Contained

When antidiscrimination law meets infertility treatment mandates.

Apr 15, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 29 • By WESLEY J. SMITH
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Nor is the bill really about equality. If it merely provided coverage for gays and lesbians with physiological fertility problems, that would guarantee equal access to medical treatment. But AB 460 would create a special right, since heterosexual individuals or couples would still have to demonstrate biological infertility—through either diagnosis or failed attempts—while gays and lesbians would be deemed legally infertile solely by reason of their sexual orientation. Needless to say, this would push health costs higher.

AB 460, of course, does not arise in a social vacuum. It reflects the modern tendency to use health care law to enact social policy. In the United Kingdom, for example, the National Health Service provides IVF (which in the United States typically costs between $12,000 and $15,000) to women up to age 42 free of charge, even though aging naturally reduces fertility from the late thirties on. As under AB 460, lesbians in the United Kingdom are entitled to receive a sophisticated form of artificial insemination at no cost as a means of erasing discrimination based on sexual orientation.

In this country, the Affordable Care Act already requires religious organizations and private business owners to provide free contraception, sterilization, and abortifacient coverage for employees even when doing so violates the organization’s or employer’s religious beliefs. That mandate is being challenged in court, and according to legal briefs filed in support of it by the Obama Department of Justice, one of its primary purposes is to promote “gender equality.”

Contraception won’t be the end of using Obamacare as a means of social engineering. Remembering that what happens in California doesn’t stay in California, it is easy to imagine Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius holding a press conference to announce that henceforth, all insurance policies will be required to cover infertility treatments, “without discrimination on the basis of age, ancestry, color, disability, domestic partner status, gender, gender expression, gender identity, genetic information, marital status, national origin, race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation.” Indeed, it is probably a matter not of “whether,” but of “when.”

Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism. He also consults for the Patients Rights Council and the Center for Bioethics and Culture. 

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