A Lifestyle Choice?

Many of us have heard the refrain that having kids is a lifestyle choice.  For childfree couples who got to make that choice, this can be true.

For those of us who didn’t have a choice due to infertility, it’s a very hurtful thing to hear. And it’s not any less hurtful when it’s said by a judge.  Consider the matter of Krauel v. Iowa Methodist Medical Center, 915 F.Supp. 102 (S.D.Iowa 1995).

All Mary Jo Krauel wanted was to have her health plan through her employer cover her GIFT treatment.  GIFT is similar to IVF, and Mary Jo had conceived her first child that way,  She then tried to have a second child, and wanted the procedure covered, in the same way her employer’s health plan covered other medical treatments.   She tried to argue that the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) considered her infertility a disability and thus her employer was discriminating against her based on her infertility. Nope, said the Court–reproduction is a “lifestyle choice.”

Really?  If Mary Jo had a real choice in the matter, she probably wouldn’t have chosen to jab herself with lots of needles and undergo major surgery in order to conceive.  Mary Jo was trying to get pregnant in the mid-1990s, when fertility treatments were even more time consuming and invasive than they are today.  

A lifestyle choice?  No more than cancer is a lifestyle choice.  Infertility is a disease that affects 1 in 8 couples.

New Hampshire lawyer Catherine Tucker