MHB’s founder and executive director, Ron Poole-Dayan, has long marked this as a primary advocacy goal for the organization. MHB offers financial assistance to hundreds of gay men annually, as the article mentions, but as long as gay men are excluded from medical insurance coverage for fertility treatments, parenting remains financially out of reach for most prospective gay fathers. “This is about society extending equality to its final and logical conclusion,” Poole-Dayan is quoted in the article. “True equality doesn’t stop at marriage. It recognizes the barriers LGBTs face in forming families and proposes solutions to overcome these obstacles.”
Poole-Dayan and others believe there should be a category of “social infertility” to cover specific life circumstances, like a man with a same-sex partner. The end goal is to provide legal and medical coverage to all people who are biologically unable to form families.
MHB has long been seeking to partner with activists and organizations that recognize that it is a matter of Equality that most gay men can’t afford the six-figure cost to have a baby through surrogacy. "Fertility equality activists are asking, at a minimum, for insurance companies to cover reproductive procedures like sperm retrieval, egg donation and embryo creation for all prospective parents, including gay couples who use surrogates," the article continues. "Ideally, activists would also like to see insurance cover embryo transfers and surrogacy fees. This would include gay men who would transfer benefits directly to their surrogate."
Catherine Sakimura, deputy director and family law director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights says, “We must shift our thinking so that the need for assisted reproductive technologies is not a condition, but simply a fact... This entire process falls far outside the way insurance companies traditionally think about health coverage."
In Connecticut, Mario Leigh, the founder of a fertility-rights coalition, is working with Representative Liz Linehan, the chair of the Connecticut legislature’s Committee on Children, to develop a bill to reduce costs associated with fertility and surrogacy treatments for all. “We want to secure affordable coverage for anyone who desires a family,” Leigh says.
In Israel two years ago, tens of thousands of Israelis protested after religious political parties pressured the government to deny full fertility and surrogacy rights to unmarried men. This February, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled the discriminatory laws must be fixed within a year. And a number of multi-national corporations like Facebook and Microsoft are now offering grants to Israeli LGBTQ employees to help pay surrogacy costs.
Meantime, some feminist activists are actually leading the charge against fertility equality and legalizing surrogacy, including Gloria Steinem and Deborah Glick, the first openly gay member of New York’s legislature. Before New York State legalized surrogacy was legalized in April, both Steinem and Glick campaigned against it, saying surrogacy exploits women and commercializes pregnancy.
The article quotes Michelle Pine, a two-times surrogate, former MHB board member and chair of the Surrogates Advisory Committee: “while there are certainly opportunities for exploitation, working with agencies or groups that offer some regulation help take away that piece.” Pine helped draft MHB's Framework for Ethical Surrogacy for Intended Parents which stresses the need for surrogates to have effective and independent legal representation.