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When a lesbian couple from Grand Rapids visited Dr. Michael Mersol-Barg’s Center for Reproductive Medicine in Birmingham it wasn’t because they couldn’t find a facility closer to home. It’s because several reproductive agencies turned them down.
“That’s unfortunately a common tale,” Mersol-Barg said, on what was supposed to be his day off.
But on that day, Mersol-Barg had one woman who received her eggs in the morning for in vitro fertilization and another whose embryos were about to be returned into the womb. “You have to accept in reproductive endocrinology and infertility that the egg rules,” he said. “It has no regard for holidays, weekends or days off.”
Mersol-Barg, who’s been practicing for 16 years, prefers to meet with both partners, regardless of sexual orientation. But often, he finds that only one partner comes in and doesn’t acknowledge the other on the information chart.
“As I talk to them it becomes indirectly apparent that there is another partner involved,” Mersol-Barg said.
Once he asks about another same-sex partner, the patient will usually confirm their significant other, but cautiously. “There’s a sense that they may be turned down,” he said. “Usually I just sit back with them and say, ‘If I can put your mind at ease, I look really forward to meeting your partner.'”
Every year, the Center for Reproductive Medicine treats 40 to 50 gay and lesbian couples. “This is an aspect of our care where we have to put some people’s mind at ease because they’re really out there on a hit-or-miss basis,” he said. “They’re sampling the area and they’ve been turned down by so many that … they stop looking, as if this is a hopeless option.”
Mersol-Barg believes there should be no sense of rejection or judgment in reproductive facilities. “This is more than just advertising and marketing, it’s letting folks know there’s a safe haven,” he said. “There’s a place they can feel at ease.”
Regardless of sexual orientation, Mersol-Bargsaid his pateints realize the psychosocial considerations of bringing a child into the world in an unconventional way where both partners aren’t genetically contributing to the making of the baby.
“Bringing a child in to the world should be unconditional, that’s what unconditional love is about,” Mersol-Barg said.