Sateenkaariperheet ry – Rainbow Families
Lapsettomien yhdistys Simpukka ry – The Finnish Infertility Association Simpukka
Seta – LGBTI Rights in Finland
A step forward in fertility treatment equality – Ministry of Social Affairs and Health is trying to get control over public fertility clinics refusing to treat rainbow families
Today, the Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health published a bulletin that states that the criteria of fertility treatments equally apply to everyone, and no groups of people can be discriminated against when giving fertility treatments. The ministry wants to ensure that health care districts will also treat female couples, single women and trans people, who have so far mainly been denied treatment.
Rainbow Families, Seta, Trasek and The Finnish Infertility Association Simpukka have done sustainable advocacy work for the cause for years. The organizations are happy about the ministry’s definition of policy. The organizations hope, that discrimination in fertility treatments will end without court fights.
“Senior physicians in public fertility clinics have widely opposed giving treatments to rainbow families. Valvira (National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health), the Ombudsman for Equality and the Parliamentary Ombudsman have tried to eliminate this illegal discrimination before. It is great that we finally have an unambiguous definition of policy from the Minister”, says the Executive Director of Rainbow Families Juha Jämsä.
Because the situation in clinics was not changed by the acts of supervisory authorities, the Minister of Health and Social Services Susanna Huovinen renewed the criteria for access to non-emergency treatment regarding fertility treatment in autumn 2014. The Minister wanted to ensure that rainbow families will get treatment from public clinics without discrimination, including treatments using donor gametes. According to experiences by members of Rainbow Families, the clinics’ policies did not change after renewing the criteria. In December 2014, the Minister send a letter to all the clinics asking them to report on how they will ensure equality in their functions. The clinics’ answers proved that many clinics are going to proceed with their old discriminatory policy even with new instructions.
Today, the ministry’s bulletin clearly states that no groups of people, including female couples, single women, trans people and HIV positive people, can be discriminated against when giving fertility treatments. “It is particularly important that the bulletin also emphasizes that fertility treatments can be given even without actual infertility. According to the instructions, treatments using donor gametes can be justifiable if the couple or person do not have all the necessary gametes. This is a very significant note”, says Jämsä.
The organizations are still worried that discrimination will go on. It is possible, that discrimination of rainbow families will end only after complaints, like it did in Sweden earlier. Discriminatory policies in Finnish clinics have just been reported to the new Non-Discrimination Ombudsman.