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article imageLesbians, single women denied public-funded IVF in Spain

By Anne Sewell     Jul 19, 2013 in Health
Madrid - If the government passes the proposal, single women, lesbians and older couples will be barred from access to assisted reproduction techniques such as in vitro fertilization in Spanish public hospitals.
Gay rights groups are worried that this proposal will then prevent lesbian couples from having publicly-funded fertility treatments.
This latest in cost-cutting measures may be approved on Tuesday, July 23, according to Spain's Health Ministry.
El Mundo reports experts they have consulted have said that cuts in this particular expensive health sector have been in the running for some time now, and there were even rumors that public hospitals would scrap this type of service altogether.
However, so far this does not appear to be the case, and instead, the Spanish health ministry is planning to limit publicly funded access to the technologies to only couples consisting of a man and a woman, where at least one partner is infertile.
Should this go ahead, age is also being taken into account, and only couples where the women is under 40 and the man less than 55 years will be entitled to the services.
In cases where one partner has previously been voluntarily sterilized, no reproductive treatments will be available for them throughout Spain's public health system.
El País newspaper is reporting that the proposal, as it stands, would exclude both single women and lesbians with fertility problems from these services.
While according to the health ministry, this move is not ideologically driven, the plans have prompted very strong reactions.
José Antonio Castilla is head of the Spanish Fertility Society and he says there were no medical grounds for excluding single women and lesbians from access to these services, stating that excellent results were often seen with these groups.
Isabel Gómez, spokesperson for Spain's peak gay, lesbian and transgender body FELGTB, told the media:
"The government is sticking to a monolithic idea of what constitutes a family."
"If the Health Ministry revises the criteria for funding this service it should do so to eliminate differences and discrimination. It appears it is doing quite the opposite."
Gerardo Ruiz Rico, a Professor of Constitutional Law at Jaén states that the proposed criteria are discriminatory and this proposal goes against Constitutional Court doctrine:
"They are making a limited interpretation of the legislation."
"It establishes a series of conditions that return to the definition of a couple to that formed by a man and woman. This is not in line with the doctrine of the Constitutional Court, which has backed same-sex marriages."
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