On March 28, Utah Governor Gary Herbert signed HB 214, “Insurance Coverage Modifications,” into law, adding Utah to a growing list of states that mandate IVF insurance coverage. But Utah’s mandate is dramatically different from what other states have done.
What’s unique about Utah’s IVF mandate?
- The beneficiaries are Medicaid and Public Employee Health Plan (PEHP) members. The state of Utah is responsible, at least in part, for their medical expenses.
- IVF is not for infertility. Instead, IVF will be used to create human beings who will then be tested for certain genetic conditions (see sidebox). HB214 mandates IVF coverage for people who are known carriers for certain qualifying conditions and who plan to start having children.
Rep. Raymond Ward (R) explains the bill’s purported value as “saving money for our Medicaid program and for improving some important health conditions.”1 “We can prevent those conditions entirely so the child can be born healthy.”2
Ward’s subtle wording has significant meaning. IVF and Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) will be used to create living human beings and then destroy the ones who test positive for a qualifying condition. Health conditions are not being “improved;” sick human beings are being weeded out. Disease is not being “prevented” for a particular child; IVF takes away the sick child’s right to life. If this practice were used with children in utero rather than in vitro, it would be called abortion. Abortion based on the state’s financial modeling of medical expenditures.
The enacted bill begs further questions. On what basis and on whose authority could other conditions can be added? Does this bill devalue the lives of people currently living with the disease, or whose parents will choose not to test and discard their unborn children?
In some very important ways, Utah has gained meaningful ground in defending the right to life for unborn children,3 which makes the unanimous passage of HB 214 all the more puzzling. Does a human being’s right to life stop when the buck does? Or is how IVF really works just widely, and terribly, misunderstood?
1. Rep R. Ward. House Floor, Day 19 (2/14/2020). 2.Rep R. Ward. Senate Business & Labor Standing Committee (2/21/2020). 3. SB67 (Disposition of Fetal Remains) and SB174 (Abortion Prohibition Amendments)