Being Single Now Considered A ‘Disability’ As Per New World Health Organization Definition

Eunice Alcala

If you are unable to find a partner who cannot give you a child, then you are disabled, according to a new definition that the World Health Organization will soon roll out. In a new dramatic move, single men and women who have no known medical issues but aspire to be parents will be deemed "infertile" or "disabled." Under the new terms, infertility will no longer be treated as merely a medical condition.

For years, WHO has defined infertility as the inability to conceive after 12 months or more of sexual intercourse. With the revised definition, the organization aspires to provide all individuals "the right to reproduce."

The new definition, which will be disseminated to health ministers starting next year, will help many single aspiring parents get the same priority that couples seeking in vitro fertilization (IVF) receive. The new term will put the single ones equal to those who are unable to get pregnant because of medical reasons.

According to Telegraph, Dr. David Adamson, one of the authors of the revised definition, believes that it will provide people fair access to adequate reproductive healthcare.

"The definition of infertility is now written in such a way that it includes the rights of all individuals to have a family, and that includes single men, single women, gay men, gay women. It puts a stake in the ground and says an individual's got a right to reproduce whether or not they have a partner. It's a big change. It fundamentally alters who should be included in this group and who should have access to healthcare. It sets an international legal standard. Countries are bound by it."

The current policy of NHS, for example, outlines that only those considered infertile are to be funded. It will be the group's decision if it will follow the new standards that WHO will introduce. NHS' current definition of infertility is "when a couple cannot get pregnant (conceive), despite having regular unprotected sex." The group reports that in the U.K., one in seven couples encounter difficulty in conceiving.

There are those who argue that it isn't apt for WHO to label a "social condition" a serious medical problem considering how traumatic infertility might be for those affected.

Politician Gareth Johnson, who used to be the chair of the All Parliamentary Group on Infertility, is against the reclassification. For Johnson, whose own children have been born because of fertility treatments, altering the definition will only make the work of other organizations futile.

"I'm in general a supporter of IVF. But I've never regarded infertility as a disability or a disease but rather a medical matter. I'm the first to say you should have more availability of IVF to infertile couples but we need to ensure this whole subject retains credibility. This definition runs the risk of undermining the work NICE and others have done to ensure IVF treatment is made available for infertile couples when you get definitions off the mark like this. I think it's trying to put IVF into a box that it doesn't fit into frankly."

What are your thoughts on WHO's latest move?

[Featured Image by Antonio Guillem/Shutterstock]