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No young person planning to start a family imagines they will be one of the one in seven that will struggle with infertility. Similarly, no one imagines they or their partner will receive a cancer diagnosis.

My family is part of an unlucky, although not rare, group that has had to manage both.

At a time when in vitro fertilization (IVF) and infertility treatments are making national headlines in the wake of the Alabama Supreme Court decision that ruled frozen embryos are considered human beings under state law, people all over the country are concerned about access to IVF and the ripple effect this will have across other states.

Ten years ago, my then-boyfriend Ryan was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia — a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. He was 26. We had only been dating a year. We learned that the full-body radiation he needed would likely leave him infertile. Ryan decided to save his sperm.

While his cancer treatment was covered under insurance, fertility preservation was not — despite the American Medical Association and the World Health Organization defining infertility as a disease.

Thankfully, the cancer treatment was successful, and Ryan was in remission after a year. He did, however, have many post-treatment side effects like tooth deterioration, cataracts and osteonecrosis that all required care and expenses. He was also paying $300 a year to store his sperm.

In 2020 Ryan and I got engaged and thought about our future family. We tried to get pregnant without intervention but weren't successful, which was no surprise due to Ryan's health history. My physician recommended IVF but the costs start at $15,000 to $20,000. The process is also emotionally and physically draining.

We were lucky that my employer-based health insurance covered some IVF costs, but we would still pay around $12,000 out-of-pocket. Many Minnesotans have no infertility coverage.

Cancer took away so much of a normal life for Ryan in his 20s. We were not willing to let it take away our dream to be parents. We went ahead with IVF, and it was successful on our first try. We welcomed our beautiful daughter, Kennedy, in June 2022. She is here today because of IVF.

Now she's a toddler, and we want nothing more than to have a second child. We have two frozen embryos in storage, but we haven't done IVF again because we're not sure if we can afford it. To save as much money as we can, we've avoided planning a wedding. We're paying $600 a year to store our embryos. Yet every year we wait, the less likely an IVF cycle is to be successful.

Now we have something in common with IVF couples in Alabama. They are unsure what the future holds for their frozen embryos. IVF clinics there are already pausing treatments as they weigh legal risks.

The Alabama decision is another clear sign we need to make sure the approximately 185,000 Minnesotans facing infertility have access to affordable care. The Minnesota Building Families Act would require state-regulated insurance to cover diagnoses and treatments for infertility, as well as standard fertility preservation services for medically induced infertility (e.g., for cancer patients). Twenty-one other states have already passed fertility insurance laws.

No one desires to start a family by using IVF. However, it is often the only effective medical treatment option. Adoption can also be a wonderful choice, but it's not for everyone and can even cost more than IVF. Would-be parents deserve options so they can choose to grow their family in the way that makes the most sense for them.

Dealing with cancer is difficult and life-changing. Having the additional burden of an infertility diagnosis should not come with a crippling cost for any hope of having a family.

It is more crucial than ever to take action and support the Minnesota Building Families Act to ensure that Minnesota is and remains a pro-baby, pro-family state, and that hopeful families get the infertility treatments they need.

Jennifer Stein is a Minnesota advocate for RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association and The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. She lives in Champlin with her fiancé, Ryan, and their daughter, Kennedy.