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Fertility treatment to be given free to lesbians and single women
SPAIN'S new health minister Carmen Montón has announced fertility treatment will be available on the health service anywhere in the country to lesbians and to single women of any romantic orientation from the first quarter of 2019.
Sra Montón who, until recently, was regional health minister in Valencia, put forward the recommendation a few weeks ago and it has now been agreed by the Council of Ministers, according to cabinet spokeswoman Isabel Celaá.
Both say this is a 'highly important move', given that fertility treatment – including basic insemination – on the national health system was scrapped by the PP government in 2014 for all bar heterosexual women in a relationship or marriage.
Before then, the previous socialist president, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, had made fertility treatment universal to all women, irrespective of their sexuality or relationship status.
The PP's ex-minister for health Ana Mato – who eventually resigned after it was found she had received gifts from the nationwide Gürtel corruption racket – overturned Zapatero's move four years ago, sparking widespread condemnation from charities, women's groups, LGB societies, and from numerous regional governments.
In practice, most regional health services have been defying the rules and the majority of hospitals in these have continued to offer reproductive treatment to lesbians, either single or in couples, and to single heterosexual women.
The exceptions, apart from the Spanish-owned city-provinces of Ceuta and Melilla on the northern Moroccan coast, were Murcia and Asturias.
Following the PP's withdrawal of the treatment, many would-be single mothers and all-female couples found their courses of hormonal therapy ceased abruptly unless they were prepared to pay, putting their health at great risk.
The previous's government's reasoning was that fertility treatment should only be available to women who had 'failed to fall pregnant via natural methods', meaning they were medically considered 'infertile'.
One lesbian successfully fought her own case in the courts, pointing out that, using this definition, gay women are 'infertile' by default as they cannot 'conceive naturally'.
The judge upheld her claim, stating that it would be an 'attack on her dignity' to expect a lesbian to have sexual relations with a man in order to get pregnant.
But other cases in other courts have failed, meaning lesbians who could not pay for treatment were effectively forced to either give up the idea of having children, or go down the dangerous path of seeking a donor in unregulated circumstances, potentially exposing her to health and legal problems.
Photograph: The fertility clinic at Valencia's La Fe hospital, taken by the regional government health ministry
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