Becoming ourselves fully or reaching our full potential is a complex interweave of many things.
Whether you’re straight, gay, single, bisexual or transgendered, taking on the identity of becoming parents is one way to fulfill that potential. But for years the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community (which encompasses all races and ethnicities, religions, and social classes) has faced discrimination on multiple levels, including family building options.
“Same-sex (female) couples have faced many barriers in forming families, including unequal access to fertility healthcare,” said Clarissa Filgioun, president of Equality California.
What does this mean? The issue is over sperm. In a relationship between a man and a woman, because the male sperm donor is (seemingly) intimately involved in a relationship with the woman, his fresh sperm sample can be used for the purpose of assisted reproduction techniques such as Artificial Insemination and such like.
Same sex female couples have not had this right. Same sex female couples have not been able to use fresh sperm from a donor as would their heterosexual counterparts; only frozen sperm.
Why is this? In the past, federal regulations have strictly forbid the use of fresh sperm for insemination (between non intimate partners), because of the risk of transmitting infectious diseases through the sperm. All sperm used for insemination, has to be frozen and quarantined for at least six months. The donor sperm has to be tested, both before freezing and before thawing the sperm, and must be negative for HIV I and II, syphilis, gonorrhea, Chlamydia, CMV, Hepatitis B and C as well as HTLV on both occasions.
All of this is required because the sperm donor is not considered to be fully “known” to the woman- even if it’s a close friend of the couple of many years standing. Some fertility clinics as well as larger HMOs have feared liability.
Although these federal regulations act as a cautionary measure, some argue that there’s an issue of inequality as it presents a major barrier to creating a family for same sex couples; only about 1 in 8 potentially fertile men will have sperm that will withstand the freeze/thaw process. The end result is that this significantly reduces the chance of conceiving.
From the five minute video, you will see what same sex female couples have been asked to do to create their dreams of having a family. Up until now, some female couples have had to deny their own relationship; instead portraying that one partner is intimately involved with the sperm donor. Same sex couples that have refused to lie about their relationship status have been denied the fertility health care that their heterosexual counterparts have access to.
However fertility care for lesbian couples is changing, slowly. Finally the disparity is being acknowledged and addressed in the appropriate way.
On September 28, 2012, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill to ensure that women in same-sex relationships and single women can access fertility services on the same terms as women in different-sex relationships.
Assembly Bill 2356, allows women to use known sperm donors to access certain fertility procedures that are less expensive and more effective.
With this signing, women who seek fertility services with a known donor who is not their partner will no longer be subject to time-consuming and costly repeat testing that decreases the chance of successful conception. Now women who will have access the same fertility services available to different-sex couples.
No more lies needed.
The law will go into effect on January 1, 2013.