According to news reports, the World Health Organisation is currently under the progress of amending its definition of disabilities to classify even those without a sexual partner as “infertile”. This in more ways than one, dramatically changes the definition of infertility and gives a new-found complexity for infertility specialists as the WHO looks to declare that infertility be no longer regarded as merely a medical condition.
The primary intention of this move is to ensure that, when it comes to receiving infertility treatment, single individuals get just as much priority as couples, be it men or women, gay or straight. The idea of including social conditions, with regards to the definition of what is considered as a disability, has received a lot of criticism, as many consider this a medical overreach in ambitions of setting a globalised standard.
This move is about creating medical equality, at least according to WHO. Until now, WHO’s definition of infertility has been the failure to achieve pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sex, which is classed as a disability. But with this new stipulation, inability to find a suitable sexual partner could be considered an equal disability. Basically, it states that every individual has a right to reproduce, irrespective of whether or not they have a partner.
Now, this move has various implications. Firstly, right off the bat, this could in all possibility make access to public funds for IVF available to all, which may seem like a good idea, but it also brings to question as to preference when it comes to the increase in the number of people applying for it. Secondly, for nations with healthcare provided by government and public funds, it could have significant shifts. Under the American Disability Act of 1990, a individual with a disability is considered as someone with “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment.” But as the ADA doesn’t enlist all the impairments specifically, the implications of this new law could be overreaching and maybe necessary.
This raises a bunch of questions. For example, what does this mean when it comes to the academic circle in terms of reservation of seats for people with disabilities? Would psychological criteria now be considered in handling matters regarding people with disabilities? How does one measure the degree of such a disability, and how does it stack up against other with other kinds? What does this mean for the institution of marriage? How does this label affect individuals mentally and psychologically?
It’ss still unclear as to the various field of study and institutions this new definition could have an impact on.