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NYC Council Members Call on City to Offer IVF Coverage for Gay Male Employees

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The New York City Council is urging Mayor Eric Adams to take action and extend in vitro fertilization (IVF) coverage to gay male employees in response to a lawsuit. The council’s LGBTQIA+ Caucus highlighted that gay men are currently denied benefits that are provided to straight couples and single women, citing an “exclusionary and outdated” definition of infertility that limits access to IVF. The city health plan only covers IVF cycles for employees who can prove infertility through unprotected sexual intercourse between a male and female, disregarding the needs of gay men. As a result, a state law mandating IVF coverage has not benefited gay male couples, leading the caucus to demand immediate action from Mayor Adams.

The letter from the LGBTQIA+ Caucus follows a lawsuit filed by a gay male employee who was denied IVF coverage, prompting claims of discrimination based on sexual orientation. To address the inequity, the caucus is calling on Mayor Adams to update health care plans to include gay male employees and reimburse those who have been previously denied IVF benefits. This effort is also supported by proposed legislation that would eliminate the requirement for an infertility diagnosis for municipal employees seeking assisted reproduction services and adoption. The case of former assistant district attorney Corey Briskin, who postponed IVF plans due to lack of financial support, underscores the urgent need for policy changes to ensure equitable access to fertility treatments.

In response to the legal challenges and advocacy efforts, the mayor’s office emphasized that the city’s health plan covers IVF treatments for municipal employees regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation, in compliance with state regulations. However, the city does not provide coverage for expenses related to egg or sperm donation or surrogacy. The spokesperson clarified that eligibility criteria for IVF coverage are determined by state rules and guidance, indicating a potential need for alignment with the LGBTQIA+ Caucus’s call for inclusive and non-discriminatory coverage for gay male employees.

The issue of IVF coverage for gay male employees in New York City is part of a broader national conversation surrounding reproductive rights and access to fertility treatments. Recent developments in Alabama, where a Supreme Court ruling led to the suspension of IVF services at three fertility clinics, have sparked debates about the intersection of IVF practices and abortion restrictions. Advocates for IVF have criticized the ruling for limiting reproductive health options, while political parties have used the issue as a platform to discuss broader concerns about reproductive rights and access to medical services.

The cost of IVF treatments, which can range from $15,000 to $30,000 per cycle, further underscores the importance of ensuring equitable access to fertility services for all individuals, regardless of sexual orientation. As the legal and political landscape surrounding IVF continues to evolve, it is crucial for policymakers, healthcare providers, and advocates to work together to address disparities in access and coverage. Mayor Adams’ response to the council’s call for extending IVF benefits to gay male employees will be a significant step towards promoting inclusivity and equality in reproductive healthcare services in New York City and beyond. By supporting comprehensive and non-discriminatory coverage for IVF, policymakers can contribute to ensuring that all individuals have the opportunity to build families and access essential reproductive health services.

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