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Privilege and Fertility— Who Can and Can't Have a Baby?

According to the United Nations, all couples are endowed with the right to determine how many, the spacing of, and when to have children: a right that is especially essential to the modern and career-oriented woman. However, in the United States, more and more would be families are finding that this right is being infringed upon by the high costs of fertility treatments, which often go uncovered by insurance companies and unregulated by state and federal government.

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Fertility treatments range from a variety of procedures and practices, including in-vitro fertilization (IVF), intrauterine insemination (IUI), egg freezing, and drugs to induce ovulation. However, according to Forbes magazine, a single round of IVF costs an average of $12,000 with accompanying and necessary medication totaling $3,000-4,000. The high costs of these treatments render them unavailable to many families and women who are of a lower economic status. 

Worse so, these high prices establish a certain privilege associated with having a baby, but due to the fact that according to the Mayo Clinic one in four women will have trouble conceiving, these treatments are becoming increasingly essential to preserving one’s right to bear children. 

Fortunately, many states in the US have either enacted legislation to require insurance companies to offer coverage or are moving towards such a measure. In fact, according to NSCL.org,16 states, including New York, California, and Texas have all passed bills that either requires coverage of fertility treatment and diagnosis or mandate compulsory offering of coverage. However, the flaws of the insurance system are all too real for many people, and addressing injustice in reproductive health as a whole, is a demand that will remain unanswered until such systems are altered. 

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The experience of having a family is a deeply transformative endeavor that everyone should have the option to pursue, regardless of economic status. It’s time that in the United States motherhood and fatherhood are regarded as a right rather than a privilege reserved for the wealthy few.