Fertility treatments should be considered essential, say patients

Michaela Alexis’s stomach is covered in scars and bruises, a necessary evil of injecting herself with hormones as she races to get pregnant in the short window of time she has left.

The 35-year-old Ottawa woman has battled infertility for the past three years. She’s undergone intrauterine insemination, surgery for her severe endometriosis and now in vitro fertilization.

Now, Alexis is also dealing with the uncertainty faced by her fertility clinic, as the provincial government tightens the rules on what’s considered essential during the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On April 20, the Ontario government issued a directive ordering “the cessation of non-emergent and non-urgent surgeries and procedures.” That left fertility centres unclear as to whether they’re considered an essential service, given their procedures are deemed elective.

When the pandemic started, fertility centres were forced to close for two months. This year, some clinics closed after the April directive before reopening just days later.

The Ottawa Fertility Centre — which Alexis relies on for her treatments — was one of them.

“It’s hard to be in a position where you already feel, as an infertile person, like you don’t matter in the world. And then … [you] feel like you’re being told by the government that you really, really don’t matter.”

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