A recent article in our local Swedish feminist online paper, Feministiskt Perspektiv, discussed the fact that childless lesbian couples in some Swedish counties have to pay considerably more for artificial insemination than straight couples. While heterosexual couples usually turn to artificial insemination when they can’t conceive, lesbian couples are not seen as suffering from any diseases or disorders that would prevent them from conceiving, carrying, or giving birth to a child.
The reasoning behind such a decision displays a presumed heteronormativity where having children is inherently depicted as a privilege shared between a man and a woman only. Being a lesbian couple, and wanting a child, is consequently treated as a lifestyle choice: lesbian couples could find other ways to have a child, compared to heterosexual couples where artificial insemination is the last step before adoption or remaining childless.
Lesbian couples who would want a child through artificial insemination are assumed to be able to “take care of it” on their own, most likely by having intercourse with a man–something that these women aren’t interested in, which is why they turn to artificial insemination in the first place. Having to pay more for the chance to become parents therefore becomes a societal punishment to women who do not live according to normative rules and who do not want to conceive a child through intercourse with a man.
Photo of crib shared by flickr user Fuschia Foot and is shared under a creative commons license.