What’s at Stake For LGBTQ Families This Election – The Most Powerful Man in the World Thinks My Family Is ‘Less Than’

What’s at Stake For LGBTQ Families This Election.  The fight for equality isn’t over, and can most definitely still be lost.

What’s at Stake For LGBTQ Families This Election?  It was the worst of times; it was the worst of times. I’m an optimist at heart, but there were days this year when looking on the bright side seemed like the act of a lunatic. Every day I felt the heaviness in my heart.LGBTQ families election

Then, one morning in August, I walked down our dirt road with the dog. Mist was rising off Long Pond. When we got home, I found a small stone among the snapdragons and joe-pye weed in our garden. Someone had painted it with a rainbow. On one side were the words “You matter.”

This turned out to be one of a series of painted rocks that an anonymous person, or persons, have been leaving around my neighborhood. Some of the messages on them are generic, like “Maine: The way life should be.” But others seemed specific to their recipients. In front of the house of a neighbor with lots of children was a red rock inscribed with “Kids are great.” In the garden of a new arrival to our tiny Maine neighborhood: “Welcome to the lake.” By the house of a couple with a goofy black Lab: “Your dog is cute.”

It seemed as if a guardian angel had appeared among us, charged with the task of giving us hope at a time when many of us have never felt so lousy.

For me, a reminder that my big gay family matters right now was more than a pleasantry. It was like a message from heaven. For the last four years the message from Donald Trump has been the opposite: To him, we don’t matter at all. In so many ways, he’s made it clear he feels we’d be better off erased.

The messaging began the first week of his administration, when mention of L.G.B.T.Q. rights disappeared from the White House website.

This was just for starters. Later, he rejected plans to add questions about gender identity and sexual orientation to the 2020 census. He banned trans people from the military. On the anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting, he announced that his administration would roll back Obama-era health care protections for trans people. He prohibited embassies from flying the rainbow flag on flagpoles. For three out of four Junes he has failed to mention Pride Month — although one time he did take time out of his busy schedule to talk up National Homeownership Month.

LGBTQ families electionHis Department of Justice filed a brief with the Supreme Court endorsing the idea that employers had the right to fire L.G.B.T.Q. people just for being themselves. In the end, even the conservative-majority Supreme Court ruled against him. But the idea that the president of the United States went out of his way to put me, and people like me, at risk, is harrowing.

This August, at its convention, the Trump Republican Party re-endorsed its 2016 platform. You know, the one that sanctifies “traditional marriage” and condemns the Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality. The one that describes the ruling defending a marriage like mine as “full of ‘silly extravagances.’”

Last week the administration filed a brief with the Indiana Supreme Court making the case that a Catholic school can fire a gay teacher who marries. It’s a First Amendment case, the administration says. Because persecuting L.G.B.T.Q. people is a form of free expression, I guess. Like cake frosting.

Also in the last week, the president released a shortlist of potential Supreme Court nominees for his second term, a list rife with anti-L.G.B.T.Q. and anti-civil rights individuals. The legal director of Lambda Legal, an organization that fights for the legal rights of L.G.B.T.Q. people, described the nominees as “terrifying.” One of them, Allison Jones Rushing, has ties to a group called the Alliance Defending Freedom, which has espoused the idea that homosexuality should be criminalized. The Southern Poverty Law Center calls it a hate group.

NYTimes.com, September 16, 2020 by Jennifer Finney Boylan 

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The Poly-Parent Households Are Coming

The Poly-Parent Households Are Coming

The Poly-Parent Households Are Coming.  Consider the following scenario: Anna and Nicole, 36 and 39 years old, have been close friends since college. They each dated various men throughout their twenties and thirties, and had a smattering of romantic relationships that didn’t quite work out. But now, as they approach midlife, both women have grown weary of the merry-go-round of online dating and of searching for men who might — or might not — make appropriate fathers for the babies they don’t yet have. Both Anna and Nicole want children. They want to raise those children in a stable, nurturing environment, and to continue the legacy of their own parents and grandparents. And so they decide to have a baby — a baby that is genetically their own — together.Poly-Parent Households

Such an idea may sound fantastical. But technologies that could enable two women (or two men, or four unrelated people of any sex) to conceive a child together are already under development. If these technologies move eventually from the laboratory into clinical use, and the history of assisted fertility suggests they can and they will, then couples — or rather, co-parents — like Anna and Nicole are likely to reshape some of our most fundamental ideas about what it takes to make a baby, and a family.

To date, most major advances in assisted reproduction have been tweaks on the basic process of sexual reproduction. Artificial insemination brought sperm toward egg through a different, nonsexual channel. I.V.F. mixed them together outside the woman’s body. Little things, really, in the broader sweep of life.

And yet even these have had profound consequences. Humans are reproducing in ways that would have been truly unimaginable just several decades ago: Two men and a surrogate. Two women and a sperm donor. An older woman using genetic material from a much younger egg.

Each turn of the technological screw has been generated by the same profound impulse — to allow people to conceive babies they desperately want, and to build families with those they love. Each development has, in many ways, been deeply conservative, intended to extend or re-create life’s most basic process of production. But as these technologies have expanded and evolved, their impact has become far more revolutionary; they’ve forced us to reconceptualize just what a family means, and what it can be.

For most of human history, after all, families across the Western world were defined in largely biblical terms: one man, one woman, with children conceived through sex and sanctified by marriage. Everyone else was just a bastard.

NYTimes.com, August 12, 2020 by Debra L. Spar

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No Significant Difference in Frozen Embryo v. Fresh Embryo Viability

No Significant Difference in Frozen Embryo v. Fresh Embryo Viability

No significant difference was found in Frozen Embryo v. Fresh Embryo viability.  Sacha Stormlund, M.D., Ph.D., from Hvidovre University Hospital in Copenhagen, Denmark, and colleagues compared the ongoing pregnancy rate between women randomly assigned to assisted reproductive technology treatment with a freeze-all strategy with gonadotropin releasing hormone agonist triggering or a fresh transfer strategy with human chorionic gonadotropin triggering. The 460 women (aged 18 to 39 years) had regular menstrual cycles and were treated at one of eight outpatient fertility clinics in Denmark, Sweden, and Spain.No Significant Difference in Frozen Embryo v. Fresh Embryo Viability

The researchers found that the ongoing pregnancy rate did not differ significantly between the freeze-all and fresh transfer groups (27.8 versus 29.6 percent; risk ratio, 0.98; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.87 to 1.10; P = 0.76). There were also no significant differences between the groups for the live birth rate (risk ratio, 0.98; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.87 to 1.10; P = 0.83). From The BMJ:

Abstract

Objective To compare the ongoing pregnancy rate between a freeze-all strategy and a fresh transfer strategy in assisted reproductive technology treatment.

Design Multicentre, randomised controlled superiority trial.

Setting Outpatient fertility clinics at eight public hospitals in Denmark, Sweden, and Spain.

Participants 460 women aged 18-39 years with regular menstrual cycles starting their first, second, or third treatment cycle of in vitro fertilisation or intracytoplasmic sperm injection.

Interventions Women were randomised at baseline on cycle day 2 or 3 to one of two treatment groups: the freeze-all group (elective freezing of all embryos) who received gonadotropin releasing hormone agonist triggering and single frozen-thawed blastocyst transfer in a subsequent modified natural cycle; or the fresh transfer group who received human chorionic gonadotropin triggering and single blastocyst transfer in the fresh cycle. Women in the fresh transfer group with more than 18 follicles larger than 11 mm on the day of triggering had elective freezing of all embryos and postponement of transfer as a safety measure.

Main outcome measures The primary outcome was the ongoing pregnancy rate defined as a detectable fetal heart beat after eight weeks of gestation. Secondary outcomes were live birth rate, positive human chorionic gonadotropin rate, time to pregnancy, and pregnancy related, obstetric, and neonatal complications. The primary analysis was performed according to the intention-to-treat principle.

Results Ongoing pregnancy rate did not differ significantly between the freeze-all and fresh transfer groups (27.8% (62/223) v 29.6% (68/230); risk ratio 0.98, 95% confidence interval 0.87 to 1.10, P=0.76). Additionally, no significant difference was found in the live birth rate (27.4% (61/223) for the freeze-all group and 28.7% (66/230) for the fresh transfer group; risk ratio 0.98, 95% confidence interval 0.87 to 1.10, P=0.83). No significant differences between groups were observed for positive human chorionic gonadotropin rate or pregnancy loss, and none of the women had severe ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome; only one hospital admission related to this condition occurred in the fresh transfer group. The risks of pregnancy related, obstetric, and neonatal complications did not differ between the two groups except for a higher mean birth weight after frozen blastocyst transfer and an increased risk of prematurity after fresh blastocyst transfer. Time to pregnancy was longer in the freeze-all group.

Conclusions In women with regular menstrual cycles, a freeze-all strategy with gonadotropin releasing hormone agonist triggering for final oocyte maturation did not result in higher ongoing pregnancy and live birth rates than a fresh transfer strategy. The findings warrant caution in the indiscriminate application of a freeze-all strategy when no apparent risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome is present.

August 6, 2020 – DoctorsLounge.com

The Fight for Fertility Equality

A fertility equality movement has formed around the idea that one’s ability to build a family should not be determined by wealth, sexuality, gender or biology.

Fertility Equality – While plenty of New Yorkers have formed families by gestational surrogacy, they almost certainly worked with carriers living elsewhere. Because until early April, paying a surrogate to carry a pregnancy was illegal in New York state.hidden costs queer

The change to the law, which happened quietly in the midst of the state’s effort to contain the coronavirus, capped a decade-long legislative battle and has laid the groundwork for a broader movement in pursuit of what some activists have termed “fertility equality.”

Still in its infancy, this movement envisions a future when the ability to create a family is no longer determined by one’s wealth, sexuality, gender or biology.

“This is about society extending equality to its final and logical conclusion,” said Ron Poole-Dayan, the founder and executive director of Men Having Babies, a New York nonprofit that helps gay men become fathers through surrogacy. “True equality doesn’t stop at marriage. It recognizes the barriers L.G.B.T.s face in forming families and proposes solutions to overcome these obstacles.”

The movement is led mostly by L.B.G.T.Q. people, but its potential to shift how fertility coverage is paid for could have an impact on straight couples who rely on surrogates too.

Mr. Poole-Dayan and others believe infertility should not be defined as a physical condition but a social one. They argue that people — gay, straight, single, married, male, female — are not infertile because their bodies refuse to cooperate with baby making.

Rather, their specific life circumstances, like being a man with a same-sex partner, have rendered them unable to conceive or carry a child to term without medical intervention. A category of “social infertility” would provide those biologically unable to form families with the legal and medical mechanisms to do so.

“We have this idea that infertility is about failing to become pregnant through intercourse, but this is a very hetero-centric viewpoint,” said Catherine Sakimura, the deputy director and family law director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights. “We must shift our thinking so that the need for assisted reproductive technologies is not a condition, but simply a fact.”

Fertility equality activists are asking, at a minimum, for insurance companies to cover reproductive procedures like sperm retrieval, egg donation and embryo creation for all prospective parents, including gay couples who use surrogates. Ideally, activists would also like to see insurance cover embryo transfers and surrogacy fees. This would include gay men who would transfer benefits directly to their surrogate.

NYTimes.com July 22, 2020 by David Kaufman

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The Challenges of the Pandemic for Queer Youth

The Challenges of the Pandemic for Queer Youth – Issues include limited access to community support and counseling and, in some cases, quarantining with unsupportive family members.

The pandemic has affected queer youth in many ways.  When Brittany Brockenbrough’s transgender son lost his in-school counseling and the ability to have meet-ups with other L.G.B.T.Q. youth during the pandemic, his mental health suffered.How Coronavirus Is Affecting Surrogacy

“He began to feel depressed and was withdrawn,” said Ms. Brockenbrough, a mother of two in Virginia. She was later able to get her son teletherapy and in-home support from a local mental health agency and to find ways for him to stay in touch with others in his community through such activities as weekly Zoom meetings and online game nights.

“He is doing much better now that he is back in treatment and staying connected to the community,” she said. “Social distancing and taking precautions is necessary, but for the L.G.B.T.Q.+ community, even those who have supportive parents, losing the ability to have that in-person social support with other L.G.B.T.Q.+ youth can have a significant impact.”

As young people continue to adjust to the pandemic, some are dealing with increased anxiety and stress. For those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, there may be additional challenges and risks resulting from limited access to community support, lack of in-school counseling and, in some cases, the difficult circumstances of quarantining with unsupportive family members.

“My parents do not accept that I am gay,” an 18-year-old from Yonkers, N.Y. who did not want his name published, said. “My support system was mostly at school, and now I am quarantining with family members who don’t accept who I really am.”

 

The young man, whose virtual high school graduation was last week, said his parents reacted with “anger” and “disgust” when they found out he was gay, and that being home with them during the Covid-19 shutdown has been very uncomfortable. “It is humiliating to have to rely on people who do not respect you,” he said.

L.G.B.T.Q. youth are already a vulnerable population and at higher risk for anxiety, depression, homelessness and self harm than their non-L.G.B.T.Q. peers. A 2018 study in JAMA Pediatrics by researchers at Harvard University and the Fenway Institute found that transgender youth were at a greater risk for attempted suicide, depression and anxiety, and that gender-affirming mental health services are greatly needed to address these concerns.

Sarah Gundle, a clinical psychologist in New York City, said that while online supports are available during this crisis and can provide help, for many they cannot replace in-person treatment and interaction with a community that accepts and validates your identity.

“L.G.B.T.Q.+ youth who have to be at home for extended periods of time and live with unsupportive family members — or their family environment makes it unsafe for them to be out at home — can experience a profound sense of isolation,” Dr. Gundle said. “A pandemic brings significant uncertainty — there is no definitive end — and it can feel as if there is no escape. Many L.G.B.T.Q.+ youth also have to worry about their safety and the repercussions if their family members find out.”

When college campuses closed in March because of the pandemic, having to return home to an unsupportive space was not a safe option for some students.

Danushi Fernando, the director of L.G.B.T.Q. and Gender Resources at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., said that approximately 225 students — following state guidelines — remained on campus through the spring semester for various reasons, some because they did not feel safe sheltering with their families. Vassar also provided support for students through virtual gatherings, support groups and counseling.

NYTimes.com, June 29, 2020 – by Misha Valencia

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The Hidden Costs Of Starting A Family When Queer

The Hidden Costs Of Starting A Family When Queer

The Hidden Costs Of Starting A Family When Queer – Jac Ciardella sat at his kitchen table in New Jersey and inserted a syringe into a navel orange. His hand flexed as he squeezed the plunger, pushing water into the fruit’s rind. He needed the practice. He was about to inject fertility drugs into his wife, Candice Ciardella, and he wanted to get it exactly right. He knew how painful it could be. gay money
 
Just a year earlier, in February, 2017, the spouses’ positions were swapped: Candice, now 37, was administering the shot for Jac, who’s 40. Jac is a transgender man, and both he and his wife have undergone in vitro fertilization (IVF) in order to have a child.
The couple’s fertility journey started in 2015. The original plan had been to use donor sperm to impregnate Candice. But after six unsuccessful attempts at intrauterine insemination (IUI), they decided to try IVF on Jacwith the idea that Candice could carry one of his fertilized eggs. Candice began giving her husband shots of the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), to make him produce extra eggs. 
 
“For years, needles were just part of the routine for us,” Candice says. “I think we had more empathy for one another because we both knew what it felt like. When it comes to the shots and the appointments, not many spouses can say: ‘I know exactly what you’re going through.’ We can.”
 
The process was emotionally taxing for both of them, but especially for Jac. “Someone’s head is between your legs, and it’s awkward for anyone — but, being transgender, it’s extra awkward,” Jac says. “Mentally, I’m feeling like I’m not supposed to be in that position. For me to feel comfortable going through IVF while still keeping my sanity and my integrity was huge.” 
 
Three cycles of IVF weren’t successful, and testing revealed no clear issues that would cause infertility. So in 2018, the Ciardellas decided to try IVF again, on Candice this time. 
 
“It was emotionally defeating. If you can survive IVF and infertility, your marriage should be able to survive just about anything else,” Jac says.  “It’s humbling and debilitating and cruel.” Adding to their stress was the financial strain. The Ciardellas were acutely aware that each failed cycle of IVF and IUI was costing them — big time. “You’re talking about tens of thousands of dollars going out the door,” he says. “It takes toughness.”
Jac and Candice’s story is unique, but the financial burden they faced is not. Most LGBTQ+ couples who want children have to confront the fact that starting a family will be expensive. Adoption, fertility treatments, and surrogates are all costly, often lengthy processes.
 
The Ciardellas say their insurance only covered their testing for issues that could cause infertility, such as blocked fallopian tubes. They had no financial help with the sperm, the IUIs, or the rounds of IVF. All told, over the course of three years, the couple would spend about $120,000 on four IVF cycles, $20,000 on fertility drugs, plus over $10,000 on IUI. “I got those numbers imprinted on my brain,” Jac says. “We always knew that to be parents, we’d need to be cutting into a good chunk of change — but we didn’t expect it to be quite that much.” 
 
Sandy Chuan, MD, a fertility specialist at San Diego Fertility Center, confirms that the costs of conceiving via fertility treatments can be shockingly high for LGBTQ+ couples. 
 
She says sperm samples can cost $600 to $900 per vial. One IUI attempt without insurance costs about $700 to $1,000, plus the donor sperm. “I usually tell my clients to ballpark around $1,500, but they might need to do three to six rounds,” Dr. Chuan explains. If IUI is unsuccessful, the next step is IVF, which Dr. Chuan says can cost as much as $15,000, plus $4,000 to $5,000 for medications to stimulate egg production. The price point for procedures can vary by state and market.
 
Refinery29.com, by Molly Longman, June 15, 2020
 
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Civil Rights Law Protects Gay and Transgender Workers, Supreme Court Rules

The court said the language of the Civil Rights Law of 1964, which prohibits sex discrimination, applies to discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that a landmark civil rights law protects gay and transgender workers from workplace discrimination, handing the movement for L.G.B.T. equality a stunning victory.legal surrogacy in New York

The vote was 6 to 3, with Justice Neil M. Gorsuch writing the majority opinion. He was joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

The case concerned Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars employment discrimination based on race, religion, national origin and sex. The question for the justices was whether that last prohibition — discrimination “because of sex”— applies to many millions of gay and transgender workers.

The decision, covering two cases, was the court’s first on L.G.B.T. rights since the retirement in 2018 of Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinions in all four of the court’s major gay rights decisions.

Those decisions were grounded in constitutional law. The new cases, by contrast, concerned statutory interpretation.

Lawyers for employers and the Trump administration argued that the common understanding of sex discrimination in 1964 was bias against women or men and did not encompass discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. If Congress wanted to protect gay and transgender workers, they said, it could pass a new law.

Lawyers for the workers responded that discrimination against employees based on sexual orientation or transgender status must as a matter of logic take account of sex.

The court considered two sets of cases. The first concerned a pair of lawsuits from gay men who said they were fired because of their sexual orientation. The second was about a suit from a transgender woman, Aimee Stephens, who said her employer fired her when she announced that she would embrace her gender identity at work.

The cases concerning gay rights are Bostock v. Clayton County, Ga., No. 17-1618, and Altitude Express Inc. v. Zarda, No. 17-1623.

The first case was filed by Gerald Bostock, a gay man who was fired from a government program that helped neglected and abused children in Clayton County, Ga., just south of Atlanta, after he joined a gay softball league.

Washington State Supreme CourtThe second was brought by a skydiving instructor, Donald Zarda, who also said he was fired because he was gay. His dismissal followed a complaint from a female customer who had expressed concerns about being strapped to Mr. Zarda during a tandem dive. Mr. Zarda, hoping to reassure the customer, told her that he was “100 percent gay.”

Mr. Zarda died in a 2014 skydiving accident, and his estate pursued his case.

Most federal appeals courts have interpreted Title VII to exclude sexual orientation discrimination. But two of them, in New York and Chicago, have ruled that discrimination against gay men and lesbians is a form of sex discrimination.

In 2018, a divided 13-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in New York, allowed Mr. Zarda’s lawsuit to proceed. Writing for the majority, Chief Judge Robert A. Katzmann concluded that “sexual orientation discrimination is motivated, at least in part, by sex and is thus a subset of sex discrimination.”

In dissent, Judge Gerard E. Lynch wrote that the words of Title VII did not support the majority’s interpretation.

“Speaking solely as a citizen,” he wrote, “I would be delighted to awake one morning and learn that Congress had just passed legislation adding sexual orientation to the list of grounds of employment discrimination prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. I am confident that one day — and I hope that day comes soon — I will have that pleasure.”

NYTimes.com, by Adam Liptak, June 15, 2020

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Better fertility treatments can mean much older parents. But how does this affect their offspring?

For nearly 40 years, fertility treatment has grown ever more advanced and so entrenched that it’s not uncommon for couples to begin their families in their late 30s, 40s or even 50s, producing much older parents.

Much older parents…  But even as questions about the technology to extend fertility have been answered — yes, children born through in vitro fertilization are healthy; yes, freezing embryos appears to be safe; yes, mothers can generally deliver babies safely well beyond the classic childbearing years — another important question is emerging: How old is too old for their offspring?

Offspring like Hayley, the 10-year-old daughter of a 58-year-old, Ann Skye.

“I knew that she was going to really need to build her own support system in life, or potentially would need to,” said Skye, who lives in North Carolina and works in public health. “I think that has really impacted the way we parented her. We were strong proponents of letting her cry [herself] to sleep for that same reason: She needs to be able to self-soothe.”

In December, two prominent psychologists and two reproductive endocrinologists published an opinion paper in the Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics questioning whether it was time to establish age restrictions in the field. They wrote that research has shown that children often experience social awkwardness if their parents are a half-century older than them and face greater risk of autism and psychopathologies. These children are also more likely to serve in a caregiving role and experience bereavement as adolescents or teens compared with their peers whose parents gave birth in their 20s and 30s, they wrote.

Do those risks constitute the potential for “great harm” to the child and outweigh a person’s right to “reproduce without limitation or interference” at any age, the authors asked.

“It is a self-perpetuating issue; the more older patients that seek [fertility] treatment, the more people feel that it is reasonable to seek treatment, especially in an age where sensational births are widely celebrated as positive events in the media,” they wrote.

In the United States, the number of live births to mothers ages 45 to 49 increased from 3,045 in 1996 to 8,257 in 2016, and the number to mothers ages 50 to 54 increased from 144 births to 786 births over the same time period, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. The average age of women becoming mothers in the United States is now 26, up from 23 in 1994, according to the Pew Research Center.

WashingtonPost.com, May 30, 2020 by Eric Berger

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Fertility Clinics Stay Open Despite Unclear Guidelines

Fertility clinics stay open – Many providers have continued seeing patients through the pandemic, forcing them to choose between clients and staff safety.

Since March, fertility stay open clinics across the country have halted treatments for tens of thousands of people because of Covid-19, forcing patients to suspend their family planning. In recent days, some clinics have reopened, resuming services and procedures despite ongoing coronavirus concerns.

But shifting guidelines and minimal oversight have left clinics to decide for themselves when and how to resume in vitro fertilization, or I.V.F. At clinics where I.V.F. is ramping back up, or never slowed at all, some staff members are concerned about a lack of adequate protective equipment and safety policies.

On April 24, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine issued recommendations for restarting operations, leaving it up to individual clinics to determine how to proceed. The professional society had previously advised fertility clinics to avoid starting new treatments, postpone nonemergency surgeries and shift to telemedicine.

The shutdown generated a flurry of media attention and pushbackfrom fertility doctors and patients. Most clinics paused starting new I.V.F. cycles, which are highly time-sensitive. But a few remained open, even operating at full capacity, causing the industry to debate when to resume care and what counts as medically urgent.

“Fertility treatment is by no means elective,” said Leyla Bilali, a nurse at a fertility clinic in New York City, referring to the consensus that infertility is a disease. “It’s just, right now, it’s not a matter of life or death.”

Clinics that stayed open scrambled to implement protocols compliant with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, such as temperature checks, masks and physical distancing. Still, people have gotten sick. At Reproductive Medicine Associates of New York, seven staff members have tested positive for Covid-19. At Vios Fertility Institute in Chicago, clinicians have reported flulike symptoms but have not been tested because of limited test availability. And several employees at Extend Fertility, an egg-freezing clinic in Midtown Manhattan, fell ill with possible cases of Covid-19.

“We really didn’t feel it was appropriate to go out on a limb, outside major A.S.R.M. guidelines, and keep things open,” said Dr. Bat-Sheva Maslow, M.D., a reproductive endocrinologist at Extend Fertility who tested positive and recovered from the virus in March. “Covid-19 is almost impossible to control at this point. That weighed very heavily with us.” Extend Fertility has since closed its offices to virtually all patients.

Amid the pandemic, clinics face a dizzying array of vague and, at times, conflicting instructions from states, cities and health agencies like the C.D.C. Doctors must interpret guidelines as they see fit — often the case in fertility services, which are largely paid out-of-pocket and where patient care and profit can be at odds.

Because of unclear guidance, in most states it is difficult to tell whether remaining open during the pandemic is legal or if fertility procedures are considered an essential service. New York is an exception: On April 7, the state’s health department issued an advisory deeming infertility treatment an essential service, thus exempt from closure. New Jersey’s governor, in an executive order responding to the coronavirus crisis, made a similar but less specific exemption, referring to general family planning services but not directly to infertility.

NYTimes.com, by Natalie Lambert, May 1, 2020

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How Co-parenting Has Equipped Queer Families To Handle The Coronavirus Pandemic

Co-parenting families are drawing on the resiliency that comes from living on the margins in the Coronavirus pandemic.

Co-parenting families are drawing on the resiliency that comes from living on the margins in the Coronavirus pandemic. Four months ago, Lisa Lo, from Calgary, separated from the father of her two young children, ages two and five, in part because she wanted to open her marriage to relationships with both men and women.Co-parenting Coronavirus

Lo, whose name has been changed to protect her family’s privacy, is polyamorous, and she’s had three relationships since her separation, one of which has ended, and two of which have been complicated by pandemic living arrangements.

Some of these relationships have brought big feelings, but through it all, Lo is mindful of keeping an emotional balance for her kids, who spend most of their time with her. “They pick up on my emotions,” she said. “If I’m happy, they’re happy. If I’m stressed and upset, then they’re stressed and upset.”

But that was all pre-pandemic: “Now, dating has been put on hold,” she told HuffPost Canada. Lo’s priorities are different these days. She is very much focused on the challenges COVID-19 poses to all multi-household families: creating consistent self-isolation protocols, navigating the handing-off of children, communicating in a time of stress, finding legal counsel.

To create a situation that worked for everyone, Lo had to have hard conversations with her ex-husband about whether to integrate any of her existing polyamorous relationships into their isolation cohort.

They settled on Lo living with one somewhat-ex-partner (it’s complicated). They are also still employing a nanny in both households, in part, because this is supportive of Lo’s mental health. The negotiations about child schedules and hand-offs between households have been complex.

Lo has also been challenged by some of her loved ones about having non-immediate family members in her household “pod” during the pandemic. But, she was able to take that in stride.

She said being queer has given her a lot of practice with tough discussions: “I’m used to being outspoken about things that are unconventional. I’m done being in the closet about anything.”

Rachel Farr is an assistant professor of Psychology, and she runs the FAD (Families, Adoption, and Diversity) research lab at the University of Kentucky. She said that for LGBTQ2 families, this pandemic both feeds into existing patterns of resilience and creates new ones.

“Some of the emotional dynamics I think are true for any family trying to negotiate [this pandemic],” she told HuffPost, “but there are added layers of sensitivity and vulnerability for queer families, who also face stigma and various forms of silencing through institutional discrimination or lack of legal protections.”

Huffingtonpost.ca by Brianna Sharpe, April 23, 2020

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