By next year, the WHO will be sending recommendations to every health minister in the world to include same-sex couples, single men, and single women without a sexual partner as "infertile," in order that they might receive better access and supportive funding for alternative methods of reproduction.
The measure is sure to prove controversial both here in the United States and around the world.
WHO is calling the initiative "the right to reproduce," and it is designed to put pressure on international health organizations in countries around the world to offer more infertility treatments to the people who want them, but may not technically qualify for assistance under current definitions. In the U.S., for example, only 15 states currently have laws requiring insurance providers to cover some level of fertility treatments.
"The definition of infertility is now written in such a way that it includes the rights of all individuals to have a family, and that includes single men, single women, gay men, gay women," said one of the authors of the new measure, Dr. David Adamson. "It puts a stake in the ground and says an individual's got a right to reproduce whether or not they have a partner."
Furthermore, Dr. Adamson says that the measure would be a fundamental change in the way we think about reproductive rights and access to healthcare services like infertility treatments.
While some critics have chafed at the idea of qualifying single adults as "disabled," as WHO technically categorizes infertility as a disability worthy of medical intervention. However, supporters of the new standards stand by the message behind the controversial measure, which declares reproduction as a human right that should be equally accessible to all people.
The new definitions were recently created by WHO's international committee monitoring assisted reproductive technology. Letters will be sent to health officials for their consideration next year.
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