Under Bill 20, it would be illegal for a woman over the age of 42 to undergo different types of IVF treatments even if uses her own eggs that were frozen when she was younger, or uses a young donor's eggs.
The proposal comes only weeks after the Quebec government announced it would be reducing its publicly-funded reproductive services, which includes infertility treatments such as IVF. Under the new bill, only women who became infertile as a direct result of medical treatments such chemotherapy would be granted free IVF procedures.
While the exact reasoning behind the proposal haven't been made clear, it's been thought that the province is attempting to reduce healthcare costs from older women who are attempting to become pregnant. The public health care system is responsible, ultimately, for any further health complications in life, that are more likely to result from babies born to older mothers. While IVF success rates depend on a number of factors, including age, many feel the ban is intrusive.
Women reach peak fertility between the ages of 20 and 24, with the ability to conceive beginning to wane around the age of 30. From the age of 35 and beyond, fertility continues to drastically decrease. Only two out of five women are able to conceive naturally by the age of 40. IVF success rates among older women are still high, and many older women are able to have healthy pregnancies and newborns.
However, women over the age of 40 have a higher risk of developing complications during pregnancy, such as pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure). Older women have, additionally, a greater risk of requiring delivery via cesarean section.
Despite these risks, many older women are able to conceive both naturally and via IVF and go on to have pregnancies devoid of complications. This is due to advances in health and prenatal care, in addition to increased awareness regarding fitness and diet.
While IVF success rates in older women continue to be debated due to potential risks, many feel the decision is a personal, private matter that the government should not interfere with.