Oregon bill would require insurers to cover fertility preservation in certain cases

In this undated photo provided by OHSU Center for Embryonic Cell and Gene Therapy, scientists use a pipette to remove the nucleus from an egg. (OHSU Center for Embryonic Cell and Gene Therapy via AP)

On Monday, lawmakers will take up a bill that could dramatically impact growing families, and it's getting bipartisan support.

"My first time being diagnosed with cancer was four and a half years ago," says Mary Beebe who just beat Ovarian cancer for the second time. "I'm four weeks cancer-free at this point, so I'm just excited about life and excited about the future."

Her future is in storage at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU). She chose to freeze her eggs before undergoing a full hysterectomy at just 31 years old; a time when she hadn't even thought about having children yet with her then boyfriend, Alex.

"They have a very short period of time to make a decision about whether they can do anything to try and preserve their fertility. And then they find out often those things they can do are very expensive," says Dr. Paula Amato, an OHSU fertility specialist.

It can cost thousands and thousands of dollars. That's why Dr. Amato and her colleagues are pushing for lawmakers to pass a bill that would require insurers in Oregon to cover the fertility preservation process when someone needs a life-saving medical treatment - such as chemo or radiation - that may risk or cause infertility.

"Cancer does not discriminate. Of course, it effects patients from all walks of life," Amato says.

She feels especially for lower-income patients, the legislation could be life-saving.

"They might choose less effective treatments for their cancer because they're worried about the impact of their fertility," Dr. Amato explains.

Mary and Alex - who are now engaged - sold a home to pay for the freezing process.

"To think that people in the future can just not have to think about that cost for fertility preservation is very exciting," Mary Beebe says.

She's also excited about something else.

"We have a surrogate," says the survivor, who may soon have a new title: Mom.

There's a public hearing for Senate Bill 911 on Monday. It's at 1 pm in hearing room "A" before the senate committee on health care. So far no one's filed testimony in opposition to the bill.


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