Fertilization treatment: only for hetero couples in Chile

SANTIAGO – A new type of public health coverage, covering in vitro fertilization – but only for heterosexual couples – has been unveiled. This has prompted Movilh, (Movement of Homosexual Integration and Liberation) to declare this decision an illegal and discriminatory act. This new health plan will allow an increase of 84% in care for this type of treatment in the Chilean public health system.

Movilh has referred to as “illegal” and an act of “discrimination” the new plan announced by the Ministry of Health, which seeks to expand Fonasa (public health) coverage in cases of in vitro fertilization or assisted maternity, and which will only apply to heterosexual couples.

According to radio Concierto, Movilh sent a letter to the Chilean health authorities to “warn about discrimination in the new coverage of in vitro fertilization by Fonasa,” since this measure excludes lesbian couples.

El Dínamo newspaper reported that the spokesperson of the organization, Daniela Andrade, said this situation was “alarming,” since this measure would present “new forms of discrimination that violate the laws and international agreements of the Chilean state.” At the same time, Andrade said Movilh has requested the Ministry of Health to “reconsider and stop the exclusions.”

Movilh argues in the letter that “Anti-Discrimination Law 20.609 prohibits all kinds of arbitrary exclusion based on ‘sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status.”

Leaving out female couples “contravenes” an agreement that the state signed together with Movilh on May 17, 2018, in the face of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH), known as the Friendly Settlement Agreement (ASA). The accord has a passage to “include lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in health policies aimed at women in order to effectively respond to the needs of these groups.”

Movilh said Health Minister Emilio Santelices supported the agreement and, as reported by El Dínamo, it was “declared legal and binding by the Comptroller General of the Republic.”

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Only heterosexual couples

The controversy emerged after an interview Fonasa director Marcelo Mosso gave television broadcaster T13, where he confirmed that this treatment will only be applied to heterosexual couples, since “that’s the largest number of couples we have in the country. So we are attacking that problem today.”

He added that in the case of lesbian couples “what happens is that you have to have sperm donation,” which is not accounted for within the current plan. Mosso said, however, that including lesbian couples “will be looked into”.

In vitro fertilization plan

At the root of the issue is the Ministry of Health’s announcement that the public health system, Fonasa, will expand coverage for in vitro fertilization or assisted maternity.

This means Fonasa will increase its quotas for access to this treatment and will subsidize the treatment in the private system with 50% of the copay.

Access to treatments will increased 84%, rising from 313 places to 575.

According to La Tercera newspaper, “in the Free Choice modality”, that is, when patients buy a private healthcare service, “the government will add eight programs that will include, for the first time, more complex treatments, such as IVF.” This is in addition to the two low- complexity therapies that can be accessed at present.

As reported by CNN Chile, the eight new programs that can be accessed are: induction of ovulation, follicular aspiration, fertilization or laboratory stage, embryo transfer, embryonic post-transfer support, embryo cryopreservation, endometrial preparation and defrosting of embryos.

Within the plan, couples that opt for this new benefit may undergo this treatment twice in their life.

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