Wednesday, August 22, 2018

If A Woman With Obesity Is Denied Fertility Treatment, Does She Have Grounds To Sue?

It is a fairly common practice for fertility clinics to deny treatments to women with obesity. The rationale presented usually references the increased risks posed to both mom and fetus consequent to mom's obesity.

And indeed, there are increased risks in pregnancy in women with obesity including of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, prolonged first stage of labour, increased instrumental deliveries, shoulder dystocia, macrosomia (big babies), congenital anomalies, and C-Sections.

But here's the thing, there are plenty of pre-existing conditions that women seeking fertility treatments have that confer comparably increased risks, and yet those women are not denied access to treatment, instead they are counselled about those risks, informed consent is obtained, and treatment is provided.

Couple the above with the fact that there simply are no gold standard non-surgical means by which women with obesity can ensure they'll lose weight, and that denying fertility treatment to women has been shown to negatively affect self-esteem, social isolation, anxiety, and depression, and I can't help but wonder whether there are grounds for a lawsuit? Grounds that have been made that much stronger by the recent publication of the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society's recommendations on obesity and reproduction which spell out all of the above (minus the legal question), and which are well worth a read by women with obesity seeking fertility treatments.