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Free Assisted Reproduction Could Be Denied to Lesbians and Single Women in Spain

In Spain, if someone cannot conceive a child through natural means, she can use free of charge assisted reproduction techniques. These techniques have been available to lesbian couples and women who have opted to be single mothers, since even though they don't have fertility problems, they cannot conceive a child through natural means.

However, this is about to change.

According to existing legislation [es], one can rely on social security to take advantage of these techniques:

(…) cuando haya un diagnóstico de esterilidad o una indicación clínica establecida, de acuerdo con los programas de cada servicio de salud: Inseminación artificial; fecundación in vitro e inyección intracitoplasmática de espermatozoides, con gametos propios o de donante y con transferencia de embriones; transferencia intratubárica de gametos.

(…) when there is a diagnosis of sterility or an established clinical indication, in accordance with the programs at each health service: artificial insemination; in vitro fertilization and intracytoplasmic injection of spermatozoa, with their own or donated gametes and with transfer of embryos; intrafallopian transfer of gametes.

Since public health care is the responsibility of regional governments, until now the autonomous communities (CCAA) have applied this policy at their discretion.  In this way, several CCAAs have been protected by their interpretation of «established clinical indication» to make offer services to lesbian couples and women who have opted to be mothers without a partner.

However, on July 18, El País reported [es] de que:

Ana Mato, Spanish minister of Health, responsible for the cuts in this area.  Photo from the Facebook page «Yo NO voté a Rajoy. Tengo la conciencia tranquila. ¿Y tú?» (I didn't vote for Rajoy.  I have a clean conscience.  You?)

Ana Mato, Spanish minister of Health, responsible for the cuts in this area. Photo from the Facebook page «Yo NO voté a Rajoy. Tengo la conciencia tranquila. ¿Y tú?» (I didn't vote for Rajoy. I have a clean conscience. You?)

La cartera común básica de servicios que está definiendo el Ministerio de Sanidad los reserva solo para “parejas integradas por un hombre y una mujer” y siempre que haya problemas de fertilidad. Así lo recoge la propuesta que ha enviado el departamento de Ana Mato a las comunidades autónomas (…)

The basic portfolio of services that the Ministry of Health is defining reserves them only for “couples consisting of a man and a woman” and only when there are fertility problems. This is stipulated in the proposal that the department of Ana Mato has sent to the autonomous communities (…)

This proposal does not provide assisted reproduction to lesbian couples or single women.  The news has made a strong impact in the press and on social networks.  In general, it is considered that the new policy discriminates against non-traditional families, and the government of the People's Party is accused of legislating according to their ideology and being strongly influenced by the Catholic church.

The Executive Committee of the Episcopal Spanish Conference writes on the website Catholic.net [es]:

[La Ley de Reproducción de 1988] viola el derecho de los hijos a ser engendrados en el acto fecundo de donación interpersonal de los padres (…) se alteran las relaciones familiares acudiendo a donantes de gametos ajenos al matrimonio e incluso se condena a los niños a nacer sin familia, ya que permite que sea una persona sola la que los encargue al laboratorio; y se niega a muchos hijos el conocer a sus padres, pues se establece el anonimato de los donantes de gametos.

[The Reproduction Law of 1988] violates the right of children to be born through fertilization via an interpersonal gift from two parents (…) family relationships are altered, introducing distant gamete donors into marriage, and children are even condemned to be born without a family, since it permits a single person to be entrusted with them; and many children are denied the ability to know their fathers, because the anonymity of gamete donors has been established.

The ultra-Catholic website HazteOir.org [es] published a report in 2005 that supposedly demonstrates that children of homosexual couples suffered from a higher percentage of problems such as low self-esteem, drug dependence, failure in school, stress, or sexual identity disorder. The report, which has been removed from the original website, can be found here [es].

However, the blog Médico crítico [es] refuted this report with others of greater scientific credibility:

Posteriormente, en abril de 2013, [la Asociación Americana de Pediatría] dio un paso más posicionándose abiertamente en favor de la adopción homoparental al existir abundantes datos que indican que no existen diferencias en el desarrollo cognitivo ni conductual de los niños criados en estas familias con respecto a las familias heteroparentales, no siendo la orientación sexual de los padres un factor modificador de dicho desarrollo (“Promoting the well-being of children whose parents are gay or lesbian“).

Earlier, in April of 2013, [the American Pediatric Association] took a stance, positioning themselves openly in favor of adoption by homosexual parents, since abundant data exists that indicates no difference in the cognitive or behavioral development of children raised in these families, as compared to families with heterosexual parents.  The sexual orientation of the parents is not a modifying factor of said development. (“Promoting the well-being of children whose parents are gay or lesbian“).

Many internet users expressed opinions similar to what Esther M. [es] wrote in the online newspaper 20minutos.es [es]:

(…) la reproducción asistida es para quien tiene imposibilidad de [concebir un hijo], no para quien no le da la gana hacerlo. Si eres lesbiana y no te gustan los hombres estás en tu derecho. Y de no follar con ellos también. Pero claro, no podrás tener un hijo y no tenemos por qué pagarte los demás un método alternativo de tener un niño. Porque no es que no puedas, es que no quieres, que es distinto.

(…) assisted reproduction is for those that are not able to [conceive a child], not for those that have no desire to do it. If you are lesbian and don't like men, you have that right. And also the right to not screw them. But clearly, you will not be able to have a child and we don't have to pay so that others have an alternate method of having a child. Because it's not that you can't, it's that you don't want to, which is different.
Call for a protest rally against the new proposal from the Ministry of Health. Photo from the Facebook page of the event.

Call for a protest rally against the new proposal from the Ministry of Health. Photo from the Facebook page of the event.

However, on the website Cáscara amarga [es], Cristina P. Álvarez, coordinator of the Lesbian Policy Work Group of the Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Transexuals and Bisexuals (FELGTB), had a very different vision of the situation:

El mismo impedimento para procrear tiene una pareja heterosexual en la que el varón es estéril que una pareja formada por dos mujeres. Si nadie propone a la mujer en el primer caso que ella no tiene problemas y que busque otro hombre, por ejemplo, tampoco se le puede proponer a una mujer sola o a una pareja de mujeres.

A heterosexual couple in which the man is sterile has the same impediment to creating a baby as a couple of two women. If nobody suggests to the woman in the first case that she has no problem and should look for another man, for example, neither can it be suggested to a single woman or a couple formed by women.

And Asturminator commented [es] on the news which appeared in El País [es]:

Medida ideológica para atar los votos de la parte más conservadora del partido. El ahorro que conlleva esta ley es totalmente insignificante. Se trata una vez más de favorecer el concepto de familia que esta gente quiere imponer.

Ideological action to gather up the votes of the more conservative side of the party. The savings that this law brings with it is totally insignificant. It is once again favoring the concept of family that these people want to impose.
Alicia Sánchez Camacho and Dolores Cospedal, two directors of the PP that relied on assisted reproduction to be single mothers.  Photo from the blog ppcerdanyola.

Alicia Sánchez Camacho and Dolores Cospedal, two directors of the PP that relied on assisted reproduction to be single mothers. Photo from the blog ppcerdanyola.

Sin salida wrote [es] in the Huffington post:

Y seguirán diciendo que no es ideología. Como siguen diciendo que no lo es pagar a los profesores de religión y despedir a los de música o matemáticas.

And they will continue saying that it's not ideological. Just like they continue saying that paying religion professors and firing those that teach music and math is not either.

It so happens that two important members of the executive team of the PP, the general secretary Dolores Cospedal [es] and the president of PP in Cataluña Alicia Sánchez-Camacho [es], underwent at one time in vitro fertilization in order to be single mothers, although the latter stated in an interview to Vanity Fair:

(…) no renuncio a que mi hijo tenga un padre. Mi hijo se va a educar, si Dios quiere, en una unidad familiar con un padre y con una madre. No creo en el modelo educativo de dos personas del mismo sexo. Y, aunque yo he hecho la opción en solitario, espero llegar a tener la pareja que mi hijo necesita.

(…) I haven't given up on my child having a father. My son is going to be educated, as God desires, in a family unit with a father and a mother. I don't believe in the educational model of two people of the same sex. And, although I have made the choice by myself, I wish to eventually have the spouse that my son needs.

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