A lesbian couple, discriminated by the council in County Östergötland, Sweden, has reported them to the Swedish Equality Ombudsman (Diskrimineringsombudsmannen, DO), for charging them 3,000 kronor ($457) for two inseminations.
The two women also felt the doctor treating them was not only ignorant but tactless. According to The Local online newspaper, he called one of the women "the father-to-be." Both women felt this was a discriminatory remark regarding their choice of sexuality.
Heterosexual couples in Sweden can receive artificial insemination for free, while lesbians in neighboring countries can receive them free of charge. Insemination prices seem to vary across Sweden, with same-sex couples forced to pay much higher fees than heterosexual couples---who bring their own sperm to the big event.
Back in 2009, The Register reported that fertility clinics in Sweden were accumulating a huge back-log of women wishing to be artificial inseminated, due to a growing number of lesbian couples needing male sperm for insemination.
Over the years, there has been a growing problem with insemination for lesbians in Sweden. It has been so bad, that prospective customers at Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenburg have to wait up to 18 months to receive a treatment.
“We think that it is discriminatory that there are different prices for insemination,” Ulrika Westerlund of the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights (Riksförbundet för homosexuellas, bisexuellas och transpersoners rättigheter - RFSL) said to the Aftonbladet daily, a Swedish online newsletter.
The problem, the Göteborgs-Posten explains in the Register, is that a 2005 law change granted "female same-sex couples" the right to fertility treatment at Swedish hospitals. Previously, this privilege extended only to married women or those who were "registered heterosexual partners".
Inger Bryman, Sahlgrenska's head of gynaecology and reproductive medicine, told the paper: "We had estimated an increase of around 25 couples per year after the law change. Now there are 90 couples in line."
In February of 2006, Finland passed a bill signed by the government that would allow single women and lesbians access to artificial insemination in Finland. Additionally, the only countries that allow donor insemination for lesbian couples include the USA, Mexico, Canada, Venezuela, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, New Zealand, Israel, India, South Africa, Jamaica, Iceland, Estonia, Sweden, Belgium, Denmark, Spain and the UK."
There is a growing international agreement that fertility clinics and sperm banks should become more regulated and highly licensed. Donation of eggs and embryos, or donor insemination, is subject to nationally enforced guidelines and legal requirements. Many countries, or even counties, have their own set of rules in regard to lesbians receiving insemination.
Donor insemination and donation of eggs and embryos is usually subject to legal requirements or nationally-enforced guidelines and there is growing international agreement that sperm banks and fertility clinics in all countries should be more highly licensed and regulated. The fact that Swedish lesbians are discriminated regarding insemination more than proves the point.
Women E-News reports that in the United States:
Single women and lesbians who want to become parents and form families still face significant social, financial and legal hurdles. Adoption laws, insurance exceptions and expensive procedures make achieving pregnancy exceptionally difficult.
"Most states that have passed a requirement, and a majority of the clinics treating patients, feel that a woman does not have a fertility problem if she does not have a male partner," says Erin Kramer, government affairs director for RESOLVE, which advocates for comprehensive coverage for fertility treatment, in Women E-News article.
Artificial insemination clinics charge women approximately $200 to $500 per attempt plus $200 to $400 per vial of donor sperm. Clinics and sperm banks levy additional fees for consultations, physical exams, and for preparing, storing and shipping frozen sperm samples. The overall chance of pregnancy using frozen sperm is about 8 percent to 15 percent each monthly cycle, which means it can take women many months of trying before they conceive.
Swedish lesbians discriminated by council regarding insemination is just the tip of the iceberg, especially in a country where suing the local government for charging extraordinary fees for a practice where heterosexual couples or lesbians can have it done for free elsewhere. More and more often, lesbians and women will begin to stand up for their rights in a world where women often take the back seat.