Copyright 2000 The Buffalo News
The Buffalo News
September 23, 2000, Saturday, FINAL EDITION
SECTION: EDITORIAL PAGE, Pg. 6B
LENGTH: 611 words
COVER INFERTILITY TREATMENT INSTEAD OF CONTRACEPTIVES
BYLINE: BEVERLY SOTTILE-MALONA -
A recent column by Ellen Goodman took
issue with health insurance companies that cover a "pro
conception" drug such as Viagra for men, but not contraception for women.
Goodman claims women need health insurance coverage for
contraception. But health care dollars would be better spent on a real health
problem -infertility. Many women are devastated about their infertility. They
are refused health coverage for certain reparative treatment. Meanwhile, $ 300 a
year for oral contraceptives multiplied by the number of women
on them will bankrupt the system. Couples with infertility ought to be
considered for coverage first.
Coverage for Viagra vs. coverage for
contraception may be a popular argument, yet it is one that does not adequately
represent the reality facing many women and men today. This generation is
striving for harmony between men and women, not the perpetuation of gender war.
Currently, one in five U.S. couples experiences infertility. As a health
care professional, I work with these young couples, who have to pay out of
pocket for many reparative treatments.
Clinically, Viagra is given
mostly to older men whose wives are beyond fertility and who wish to perform
better. It is more of a "pro performance" drug than it is a "pro conception"
drug. If Viagra is used solely as a treatment for a legitimate medical
necessity, it should be covered. On the other hand,
contraceptives are not a medical necessity. To call fertility a
pre-existing condition -- as Goodman did -- is cynical and trivializes the many
real health problems of women.
Women can function without traditional
contraceptives. Contraceptives are not required for conjugal
love. There are cheaper, safer and effective alternatives for couples who choose
to avoid or hope to achieve a pregnancy. Western New York alone boasts of at
least four hospital-based Fertility Care Centers and two private offices where
these alternatives are taught. Why -with hospitals financially stressed,
millions of people uninsured and medical people being laid off -- is there a
request to spend money to "treat" healthy women?
A woman's unique
ability to bear children is a gift. Just ask those thousands of women who are
spending small fortunes in an effort to conceive.
People should receive
a full disclosure of information. For example, men and women should be informed
that there are alternative family-planning methods that are safe, effective,
inexpensive and include male responsibility. The notion that fertility is solely
a woman's responsibility should be antithetical to a feminist.
exploding rates of sexually transmitted diseases and infertility demonstrate
that the human body was not designed for casual sex, serial monogamy, infidelity
or intentional disruption of an existing pregnancy. The body retaliates.
A woman's destiny is shaped by her ability to think critically,
to embrace rather than reject her unique childbearing ability, to learn about
fertility rather than blindly manipulate it, to accept that pregnancy is always
a matter of probability regardless of birth control, to make decisions that
exclude nonmarital sexual involvement and to face the reality that ignorance and
the "quick fix" violates the dignity of man and woman alike. BEVERLY
SOTTILE-MALONA, R.N., lives in East Amherst.
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GRAPHIC: BEVERLY SCOTTILE-MALONA
LOAD-DATE: September 24, 2000