Bill 20 in Quebec: Yes or No?

by E_Factor on April 3, 2015 - 5:23pm


In vitro fertilization (IVF) is an assisted reproductive technology that helps women become pregnant. In 2010, Quebec started funding IVF in order to help infertile couples, but their main goal was to lower the multiple pregnancies rate under 10 (Montreal Gazette). However, since there has been a huge increase of IVF cycles during a period of three years, the government wants to cut back the funds. The Minister of Health and Social Services, Gaétan Barrette proposed Bill 20, which consists of putting an age limit for IVF. Only women between the ages of 18 to 42 are allowed to have assisted reproductive technology; IVF would be considered illegal for any women above or below that age limit (Montreal Gazette). In addition, even if a woman is within the range, she must try to get pregnant without any medical help for a certain time. If she's 18 to 37, she must try for three years, if she's between 38 and 42, she must try for a year. Also, those three years, the couple must go through a psychosocial assessment in order to see if they are good candidates.


With this Bill, the government would only have to pay for a single cycle of IVF. I find it unfair because there are countries in Europe where the government pays for up to three cycles. The Government of Quebec claims that there has been a big abuse and that couples prefer doing IVF instead of doing it the "natural" way even if they are fertile. However, many citizens believe that they are making these cutbacks only for economical reasons.


The province of Quebec is quite unique for having news media both in French and in English. With this type of media expressed in two different languages, the public gets to read articles from two different cultures with different views. Newspapers like the Montreal Gazette and Le Devoir are against Bill 20, however while reading the articles regarding IVF, the French Newspapers had mixed feelings on the Bill. 


The English journalists believe in human rights; they believe that every woman has the right to use assisted reproductive technology. While reading an article on the Gazette written by the president of the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society, and medical director of the Montreal Fertility Centre, Nael Mahutte MD, I could sense that he used a deontological perspective. He focuses on human rights. He states that the income of a couple should not influence their choice of using IVF. He believes that every woman has the right of having a child (Montreal Gazette).


On the other hand, French newspapers have mixed feelings on the government's decision. They see this problem from a teleological perspective. They believe that a woman's health and security is the most important; they do consider human rights, but it is not their main focus. There have been many concerns regarding women having children at the age of 50 and because having a child at that age can have many complications, like delivering a low-weight baby, they believe that the government is right for putting an age limit (WebMD). Although many support the government's ideas, there are still many journalists that framed their article in such a way that claimed that the patients' privacy were going to be on the line. With the Bill 20, couples will have to give private information on their sexual lives, which does not respect the Civil Code of Quebec. These couples have the right to keep their privacy, but with this Bill, not only will the doctors know, but the government also because they are the ones that will give the right to use IVF (Le Devoir).


The English newspapers were quite objective. They delivered the information to the public without putting their opinions except on an opinion article.  On the other hand, French newspapers were very subjective, the journalists gave most of their ideas, but they showed mixed feelings on Bill 20, which would make them an unreliable source.


In my opinion, we should take the different views of the French and English news media in order to find a solution. However, the Government of Quebec should not cut the budget for IVF. According to the World Health Organization, infertility is "a disease of the reproductive system defined by the failure to achieve a clinical pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sexual intercourse" (WHO). Infertile couples should have the same rights as any other patient with another disease, and therefore should be able to receive free medical care. It is not something they can control, and if they do wish for a child, they have the right to do it. But there must be an age limit without making it illegal for women over that limit. Since health is important, being pregnant is both physically and mentally exhausting and there could be many serious complications, the government should keep the age limit to 42. That does not mean that a 45-year-old woman cannot be pregnant, it just means that they must get a medical examination, instead of a psychosocial assessment, which I personally find quite odd.


Thus, both the English and French newspapers are against Bill 20, but they have different arguments. English newspapers focus on deontology and being objective while the French take on the teleological perspective and being subjective. I believe that combining both views would help us find an ethical solution.


Works Cited

Mahutte, Nael. Opinion: Quebec should continue to fund IVF treatments. Montreal Gazette. December 11 2014. < April 1 2015.

Nadeau, Jessica. Québec prête le flanc à des poursuites, croit l'avocat Jean-Pierre Ménard. Le Devoir. 26 Février 2015. < Web. April 1 2015

Infertility definitions and terminology. World Health Organization. <>. Web. April 1st 2015.

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