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New report says Washington needs to do far more for infertile couples
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New report says Washington needs to do far more for infertile couples

In this file photo, an embryologist works on a petri dish at a fertility clinic. An advocacy group says Washington state needs to do far more to help women trying to conceive. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)

Nearly 150,000 women in Washington state are infertile, and a new report card says the state should do a lot better to help couples trying to conceive.

RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association gives Washington a “C” grade in its second annual index measuring and grading state’s “fertility friendliness.”

The grade is determined by the number of fertility specialists available in the state, the availability of insurance coverage, and the number of support groups available.

Infertility can be devastating for women and couples. A recent study found it causes the same emotional stress as cancer, says Barb Collura, the president of RESOLVE.

“Many women call it their life crisis. You feel blindsided,” she says. “I know that might seem hard to believe because it’s not life threatening, but for most of us it transformed our life.”

Along with the emotional toll, trying to conceive can be costly. Couples can commonly spend $35,000 or more for infertility treatments, and many insurance plans don’t cover the care.

Collura says Washington state gets a C on the report card because it lacks a mandate for insurance carriers to provide the coverage. And she says one of the goals of the report is mobilizing volunteers to pressure employers and lawmakers to mandate insurance coverage.

“All the states that do have an insurance mandate, that was all done with volunteers. It was not done through a lot of heavy handed lobbyists or anything like that,” she says. “So we’ve seen it happen and we know it can happen.”

Collura says Washington also gets a C grade on the report card because just two support groups are available across the entire state.

“We know that infertility carries with it a huge emotional burden. Getting access to emotional support is really crucial and with only two groups in the state that is really tough.”

Collura says nationwide, 1 in 8 couples have trouble getting pregnant or sustaining a pregnancy, and far too many can’t or don’t get the treatment they need to help them have a baby.

“It really impacts just about every facet of your life,” she says.

For those that can’t conceive naturally, there is hope. approximately 65 percent of women who seek medical intervention give birth, Collura says.

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