BY TAT BELLAMY-WALKER
Health insurance companies in New York must immediately cover fertility treatments for queer couples, according to a new statewide mandate announced on Feb. 11.
Governor Cuomo is directing the Department of Financial Services to eliminate any extra costs facing same-sex couples seeking fertility treatments such as in-vitro fertilization, egg freezing, sperm donations, and more. Queer people are sometimes forced to pay six to 12 months of out-of-pocket costs for fertility treatments before qualifying for coverage, while cisgender, heterosexual couples do not face these same barriers.
The Governor’s office did not immediately respond to a question asking whether the mandate extends to transgender people in heterosexual relationships.
“For too long same sex couples have been denied coverage for immediate infertility benefits, forcing them to pay high — often prohibitive — out-of-pocket costs to start a family,” Cuomo said in a written statement. “No New Yorker should be denied the opportunity to become a parent, nor the joys of raising a child, because of their sexual orientation, and this change reflects what we as New Yorkers know to be true: that love is what makes a family, that inclusivity is our strength and that the law should work for all New Yorkers.”
In a statement, Melissa DeRosa, the Governor’s spokesperson and chair of the Council on Women and Girls, said the move is a step toward removing barriers in reproductive health care.
“New York is leading the nation in protecting the rights of all New Yorkers and making it easier to start a family by expanding access to safe and affordable fertility treatments,” DeRosa said. “Family planning is a profoundly personal and emotional journey, and it should not be made harder by bureaucracy.”
She added, “These new actions mark a major win for women and the LGBTQ community, and we will continue breaking down barriers to family planning until every New Yorker has access to the protections and services they need to start a family of their own.”
Last April, the state legalized paid gestational surrogacy — which is when a surrogate carries a baby who has no biological relation to them — after a prolonged fight over concerns that the surrogates carrying babies and those donating eggs were not provided with enough protections and rights. Out lesbian Assemblymember Deborah Glick was among those who mounted resistance to the surrogacy effort, telling the New York Times that gestational surrogacy amounted to “pregnancy for a fee, and I find that commodifcation of women troubling.”
Surrogacy-related protections are slated to go into effect Feb. 15, according to the governor.
This story first appeared on our sister publication gaycitynews.com.