Senator Anthony J. Portantino (D-Pasadena) has been recognized by the Alliance for Fertility Preservation, an organization of professionals who advocate for fertility preservation, which gave him a Trailblazer Award for his efforts to protect the reproductive rights of cancer patients.
Portantino authored Senate Bill 600 which was passed in 2019. The bill mandates health insurance coverage for fertility preservation procedures for patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatment.
He is also co-author of SB 729, which aims to expand access to fertility treatments for more Californians.
Senator Portantino said he was inspired by a 26-year-old woman who told him about her personal struggle when he was in the State Assembly.
“I was proud to have authored SB 600 to ensure that cancer patients are not faced with the heartbreaking decision of treating their cancer and losing their fertility,” he said. “Today, Californians have the opportunity to preserve fertility options prior to chemo and other aggressive treatments.”
The senator thanked the Alliance for Fertility Preservation and other advocates for their support and dedication.
On its website, the Alliance for Fertility Preservation explains its mission is to increase information, resources and access to fertility preservation for cancer patients and the healthcare professionals who treat them.
“While many organizations address various facets of cancer and cancer treatment, we have chosen to help alleviate one of the most distressing, life-altering consequences of cancer treatment – infertility,” the alliance says in a statement.
Fertility preservation is a process that allows people to save their eggs, sperm or embryos before they undergo treatments that may damage their reproductive organs or affect their fertility. Some insurance policies and health plans did not cover these procedures, leaving many patients with no options. With SB 600, insurers are now required to cover the cost of these procedures for cancer patients.
Joyce Reinecke, Executive Director of the Alliance for Fertility Preservation, said young cancer patients also deserve the chance at a full life after cancer.
“Senator Portantino’s leadership and commitment to fertility preservation coverage through the passage of SB 600 not only safeguards that future for millions of Californians, it has served as a beacon and a model for states across the country,”
Reinecke said. “We are truly grateful for his compassion and perseverance over the many years it took to realize this important protection for the patients we serve.”
Katie McKnight, diagnosed with breast cancer at age 30 and one of the first beneficiaries of SB 600, said the law had a profound impact on her.
“It allowed me to freeze embryos ahead of my lifesaving chemotherapy treatments,” she said in a statement from Portantino’s office. “During a dark time, it gave me the hope that one day I may be able to have a child of my own.”