Whether you’re a parent or not, one thing you probably know is that babies cost a lot of money. When the baby gets here they eat all the time, shit through a billion diapers, grow out of their clothing at an astronomical rate, require all kinds of medical care and come with all kinds of cute accessories people can’t help but purchase.
Something you probably haven’t considered is the cost associated with conceiving the child in the first place. There are many Americans who cannot have a child naturally, on their own. Infertility affects about 7.3 million women in this country — about 12% of the reproductive-age population*. Fortunately, we live in a modern society where medical technology allows infertile men and women to have children if they so choose. Well, if they so choose and if they can afford it. Fertility treatments and procedures are crazy expensive.
The cost of giving birth using assisted reproduction technologies such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) exceeds $100,000 when the probability of a live birth falls below 15 percent … The cost of IVF using donor eggs ranges from $15,000 to $25,000. The delivery rate per donor egg is approximately 51 percent at Segars’ clinic, making the cost approximately $30,000 to $49,000 per live birth. **
If you have insurance, it might not cover the procedures. Your coverage depends on where you live and the type of plan you have. Fifteen states currently have laws that require insurers to either cover or offer to cover some form of infertility diagnosis and treatment. Other than that, you’re kind of on your own. This IS America, though and we know that healthcare is a joke here. There are more than 47 million Americans without insurance.***
So what about people who cannot afford it? Should they just give up on the idea to EVER have children of their own? I remember, during my first year of law school, discussing natural rights in constitutional law. There’s a natural right to life, for example. [I understand that this could be a point where one would interject an abortion debate, but it’s not time for that.] Is there a natural right to bear children?
It has been said that one of the most natural things a human being can do it to reproduce. You can pretty much do it whenever you want. You don’t need permission to do it. People have been having kids since the beginning of time! The difficult part, though, is that as a society, our opinion of who should be able to have a child is tied to who deserves to have a child. I know that’s a bit repetitive and thus confusing. Ride with me a little longer.
See, people think that if you’re poor you ought not have kids. At some level that makes sense. I started off talking about how expensive babies are and it only gets more expensive as they grow up. Americans are concerned with public benefits and most of us get heated just thinking about so-called freeloaders while others work hard every day. As an aside, it’s unfortunate that, most people are uninformed about the realities of public benefits/welfare. The majority still sees the average welfare recipient as the archetypal “Welfare Queen” having a bunch of babies and living high on the working wo/man’s tax dollars. That’s really not an accurate picture. Just to give you some insight, the welfare payment to a single person in Pennsylvania is $203/month. Try living on THAT and tell me who is balling out. End aside.
On another level, it makes no sense to deny a person’s natural right (if you agree that it is) to choose to become a parent simply because they are in the low-income category. How unfair is that? Person A is wealthy, so they can fulfill what they believe is their natural path in life, which is to be a mother. Person B has the same feelings about motherhood but happens to work a minimum-wage job and needs food stamps to supplement her income. Person A gets to have a kid. Person B doesn’t.
We don’t deny people the right to an attorney in this country due to their income limitations because our Constitution and our Supreme Court has decided that it would be unjust to send someone into the adversarial judicial system without the assistance of a trained attorney simply because they are indigent. UNJUST. Plainly, it’s unfair. However, we don’t really attach the kind of judgment to a person who cannot afford a lawyer that we do to a poor person looking to conceive.
Being poor or low-income does not mean you cannot be a good parent. Even when it comes to terminating parental rights, the State cannot just declare your home unfit for children or accuse you of neglect if they think you have cheap furniture. If your home isn’t in the best neighborhood or your kids don’t have the nicest clothing, that doesn’t mean that you don’t care for them well or love them. Different isn’t worse.
So, is it fair to deny a low-income person the benefits of medical technology? Maybe if you consider parenthood a luxury. I mean, I certainly consider cosmetic surgery a luxury and I would not advocate for a low income person to have the right to a breast augmentation. But what if you believe that parenthood is NOT a luxury but a right? You have a right to some medical treatment, like being seen in an emergency room. Why not infertility treatments and/or drugs?
I don’t really have a definitive answer here. I just think it’s an interesting topic to discuss. Let me hear your views on the subject, if you don’t mind.