MONTREAL — Quebec is picking up the cost for fertility treatments of a surrogate mother acting on behalf of a gay male couple, a novelty that has spawned controversy over the province’s generous in vitro fertilization program, the Globe and Mail reports.
Media personality Joël Legendre joyfully announced on his Facebook page last week that he was expecting twins with his partner this summer, thanks to a Quebec woman who agreed to act as a surrogate. Her in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment is being covered under the province’s health-insurance plan, the Globe and Mail article says.
Legendre, a radio host, said the IVF program had been unfair because while lesbian couples could benefit, gay men could not.
After multiple rejections by the Quebec health-insurance board, Legendre appealed to his provincial Member of the National Assembly for help, who in turn passed along the request to Réjean Hébert, health minister under the previous Parti Québécois government.
A week later, Legendre said, an aide to Hébert contacted him to say “we opened everything, and now gays can have children if they want.”
Several male couples he knows followed suit, Legendre told the Globe and Mail.
The issue stirred a heated debate, partly because of the soaring cost of the province’s fertility treatments at a time of budget constraints. Quebec was the first province to fully fund IVF, whose cost exploded this year to $67 million, from $27 million in its first eight months of operation starting in 2010. Each IVF cycle costs the government $4,750.