Disparities Persist in Fertility Treatment for Black Intended Parents

As America continues to celebrate and highlight achievements in the Black community for Black History Month, we at IFLG have taken the opportunity to highlight disparities the Black Community faces when it comes to dealing with infertility. Black intended parents still have a higher hill to climb compared to white intended parents in order to fulfill their dreams of parenthood.

As we reported earlier this month, white women between the ages of 25 and 44 are twice as likely to seek out fertility treatments earlier compared to only 8 percent of Black women who seek out treatment during child-bearing years. Black women also suffer from uterine health issues more frequently than white women on average and face a persistent myth of being hyper-fertile, which has led to a silent shame when discussions about infertility issues arise in the Black community. As a result, some Black women don’t feel as though they can talk about their infertility struggles or seek help.

These ongoing disparities, combined with limited state-mandated insurance coverage for infertility care and the high cost of fertility treatments, have resulted in an incredibly high percentage of the minority population left without help and reasonable access to assisted reproductive technologies.

According to RESOLVE, 20 States have passed fertility insurance coverage laws with 14 of those states covering IVF and 12 of them covering fertility preservation for medically induced infertility. However, rules vary from state to state, and Forbes states, “small employers (often defined as companies with 50 or fewer employees) and self-insured employers (companies that pay claims out of their own funds rather than using an insurance company) are often exempt from these laws.” Even with some states covering fertility treatments, Lynae Brayboy, M.D., FACOG, an African American ob-gyn specializing in reproductive endocrinology and infertility, tells Glamour, “There is a higher proportion of women of color who use federal insurance coverage or Medicaid. Medicaid has absolutely no coverage for infertility.” In 2018, the AMA Journal of Ethics stated that 34.7 million adults were enrolled in Medicaid, and federal civil service employees working for the US government also had no insurance coverage for infertility treatment.

High Costs Create Barriers to Fertility Treatment

Michell Bratcher Goodwin, a professor at the University of California Irvine School of Law Center and founding director of the Center for Biotechnology & Global Health Policy, tells Parents.com, “IVF costs are deeply prohibitive generally. The high costs are particularly difficult for families of color and single individuals who disproportionately lack intergenerational wealth. Where others who want to use IVF-related services may be able to access financial reserves--either their own or from family members--those types of options may be less available to families of color.”

The average cost of a round of IVF is over $12,000, which does not include other costs for genetic testing, time off work to undergo treatment, or yearly fees to store excess embryos in cryobanks, which can often exceed $1,000 annually. In total, the final cost for one round of IVF can be well over $15,000, and with many intended parents requiring more than one round of IVF to become pregnant, the dream of becoming a parent becomes even more unattainable.

Lack of insurance also plays a role in access to ART. Shaylene Costa, a doula and a Black mother of two who experienced more than a five-year journey with infertility before giving birth to her daughter, tells Glamour, “A lot of people talk about IVF and going to specialists, but that was not on the table for us, because we had no insurance. We were paying out of pocket for all of the treatments and blood tests, which meant that we ate ramen noodles instead of good food.” Data from the Census Bureau shows the median income for white households in 2020 was $74,912 compared to $45,870 for Black households. The disparity in income combined with the lack of generational wealth due to systemic racism only heightens the need for more legislation to prioritize inequities in reproductive care.

Goodwin goes on to say in Parents.com, “The desire to parent does not have a color line, and Black parents, for example, would be just as likely to seek medical assistance to achieve pregnancy as their white counterparts. That said, if assisted reproductive technologies are outside of reach because of economic constraints then Black families may be less likely to have meaningful access.”

Diversity Needed Among Reproductive Medical Professionals

Not only do disparities continue to exist with insurance coverage and the affordability of IVF costs, but they also exist in the lack of diverse backgrounds in the medical community.

According to a study at UCLA, the proportion of Black physicians in the U.S. has only increased by 4% in 120 years. Dr. Dan Ly, an assistant professor of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and author of the study, states, “These findings demonstrate how slow progress has been, and how far and fast we have to go if we care about the diversity of the physician workforce and the health benefits such diversity brings to the patients, particularly minority patients.”

Kimberly Wilson, a Black woman who suffered from fibroids and had been in and out of the hospital with complications, tells NBC News she had trouble finding a doctor who understood her cultural and mental health needs. The majority of doctors she saw were white men who advised her that her only treatment option for her fibroids would be a hysterectomy which would take away any chance she had of having any children. Wilson says that a referral from a friend led her to a Black ob-gyn at Johns Hopkins University who recommended an abdominal myomectomy that would preserve her uterus while still removing most of her fibroids and ultimately preserving her chance at having children one day.

Although thrilled with her outcome, Kimberly goes on to tell NBC News, “I was frustrated by my experience and having to travel so far just to find a culturally competent physician.” She believes she had a better experience because her doctor was a Black woman.

As a result of her experience, Wilson created HUEDCO, a digital health equity company that creates inclusive healthcare for Black, Latinx, and Indigenous communities by connecting them to medical professionals of color and offering research-based courses designed to equip healthcare professionals with the ability to remain open to each patient’s cultural background, values and traditions and how they impact a patient’s care.

Increasing the number of providers from diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds and providing training against bias is essential in order to correct some of these long-standing disparities plaguing the Black community when it comes to reproductive health. Research shows that sharing a racial or cultural background with a patient’s physician can lead to higher patient satisfaction and health outcomes according to Parents.com. The need for more diverse medical professionals is evident, and the US has a duty to grow and diversify its medical workforce to not only root out systemic racism in the field but to be at the forefront of inclusion and equity for all humans no matter the color or socioeconomic status.

Intended Black parents have just as much desire as intended white parents to fulfill their dreams of parenthood but are more likely to face insurmountable obstacles preventing access to reproductive healthcare, including the lack of diversity in medical professionals. The human want and need to create a family transcends race and culture. Equal and comfortable access to reproductive health services and assisted reproductive technology should be a basic human right, free from judgement or financial barriers.

Richard Vaughn

Attorney Rich Vaughn is founder and principal of International Fertility Law Group, one of the world’s largest and best-known law firms focused exclusively on assisted reproductive technology, or ART, including in vitro fertilization (IVF), surrogacy, sperm donation or egg donation. Rich is co-author of the book “Developing A Successful Assisted Reproduction Technology Law Practice,” American Bar Association Publishing, 2017.

Peiya Wang
Paralegal (律师助理)

Peiya Wang joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2015, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases and provides translation services for many of IFLG’s international clients. Peiya moved to the United States in 2012 to attend Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, receiving a Master of Science degree in Global Studies and International Affairs in 2014. Peiya moved to Los Angeles in 2015, received her paralegal certification from UCLA Extension, and obtained her second Master of Science degree in Legal Studies from Loyola Law School. Peiya relocated back to her hometown, Beijing, China in 2019 and works from IFLG’s Beijing office. When away from the office, Peiya is a dragon boat paddler and a ballroom dancer, where she favors Rumbas and Cha-chas. She is fluent in Mandarin and English.

Luis Sosa

Luis R. Sosa joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2016, where he enjoys pursuing his passion for family and reproductive law. While working toward his bachelor’s degree at Florida International University which he received in 2013, Luis worked as a paralegal and legal assistant for family law litigation firms in Miami and Washington, D.C. As a paralegal and case manager for IFLG, Luis, who is bilingual in English and Spanish, manages surrogacy, egg donation and other reproductive law cases. Luis has worked for IFLG in both Los Angeles as well as San Francisco, and is currently based in Dallas, Texas. In addition to spending time with husband Randy and dog Marty, Luis enjoys being outdoors and appreciating the arts.

Toni Hughes

After receiving her B.S. in Business Management, Toni joined IFLG to pursue her dream of working in the legal field. As a Paralegal with over 10 years of experience in the assisted reproduction technology field, Toni is our Managing Paralegal, responsible for training and managing our paralegal staff. From drafting legal documents to assisting our clients with post-birth matters, Toni embraces the challenge of learning something new in this field each day. Besides spending time with her son, Jordan, Toni enjoys exploring new things, cooking, spending time with family and friends, and serving as a Youth Advisor for “Next Generation.”


Kim has over 30 years of experience in the legal field and has worked exclusively in surrogacy and assisted reproduction law since 1999. Kim is a senior case manager responsible for managing parental establishment cases and interacting with IFLG’s Of Counsel attorneys across the country. With three children of her own, Kim understands the importance of family and finds working in this area of law a rewarding experience.

Rich Vaughn

Attorney Rich Vaughn combined his personal passion as a father of twin boys born via assisted reproductive technology (ART) with more than 20 years of experience in business and technology law to build International Fertility Law Group. Today IFLG is one of the most successful and best-known law firms in the world focused exclusively on fertility law, helping thousands of intended parents through empathetic listening, compassionate guidance, and unmatched legal expertise. As an advocate for reproductive freedom, Rich also contributes his knowledge and time to improving the understanding and practice of ART law, most recently as a founder of and speaker at the first Cambridge University International Surrogacy Symposium held in June 2019, as immediate past chair of the American Bar Association ART Committee, and as a popular presenter to law schools, faculty and advocacy organizations all over the world.

Elizabeth Tamayo

Elizabeth received her Bachelors of Science degree in Criminal Justice from California State University of Los Angeles. Shortly after graduating, she continued her education at the University of California, Los Angeles where she obtained her Paralegal certificate. Elizabeth is fluent in Spanish and has been in the legal field since 2009. She is excited to be a part of the IFLG Team helping families realize their dreams.

Sunny Chien

Sunny joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2017, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases for many of IFLG’s international clients. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from California State University of Los Angeles, where she graduated cum laude. Sunny is bilingual in English and Mandarin and has extensive experience as a legal assistant and paralegal at Los Angeles-area law firms. She is excited to be part of the IFLG team. In her spare time, Sunny enjoys spending time with her family and their dog, going to the beach, cooking, and being outdoors.

Los Angeles

5757 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 645

Los Angeles, CA 90036

Phone:  +1 323 331 9343

Email:  info@iflg.net

Website:  www.iflg.net

New York

501 Fifth Avenue, Suite 1900

New York, NY 10017

Phone:  +1 844 400 2016

Email:  info@iflg.net

Website:  www.iflg.net

Molly O'Brien

Fertility law attorney Molly O’Brien began working in the field of assisted reproduction technology (ART) in 2005, at an egg donation agency and a surrogacy agency where she became familiar with all aspects of in-vitro fertilization, egg donation and the financial aspects of surrogacy. Since becoming an attorney in 2011, Molly has drafted and negotiated surrogacy, egg donation, sperm donation embryo donation agreements for hundreds of her clients all over the world.

Phoebe Sadler

Fertility law attorney Phoebe Sadler has a background in family law and has been practicing exclusively in the area of assisted reproduction technology (ART) law since 2018.

Rubina Aslanyan

Rubina has an extensive background in the legal field as a paralegal in Family Law and has worked in surrogacy and assisted reproduction law since 2012. Her area of focus is in managing and assisting clients with surrogacy, egg donation, and parental establishment cases for many of IFLG’s domestic and international clients. During her spare time, Rubina enjoys spending time with her family and dog Bella, traveling and cooking.

Alexander Espinoza
Legal Assistant

Alexander joined IFLG as a legal assistant in 2019, where he manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases. Alex is bilingual in English and Spanish and has been in the legal field for 23 years. Alex is excited to join the IFLG team and pursuing his will to help others in the reproductive law process. In his spare time he loves spending time with his family and friends, being outdoors, road trips, loves music and dancing.

Cara Stecker
Senior Paralegal

After receiving her paralegal certificate in 2005, Cara began working in assisted reproductive law. During the fifteen years Cara has worked in this field, she has gained a wide range of experience and knowledge that she uses to help better assist clients and those involved in the assisted reproductive journey. Cara’s primary roles involve managing parental establishment matters and coordination with IFLG’s Of Counsel attorney network, drafting contracts and parental establishment court documents and providing support to other team members. Cara finds great joy in being a small part of a team of caring people who help others achieve their dream of having a family. In her spare time, Cara enjoys spending time with her husband and three children, watching her children play the sports they love, and she enjoys, running, cycling and exploring the outdoors in the sun.

Stephanie Kimble

Stephanie received her BS in History and Political Thought from Concordia University Irvine in 2015 and her Paralegal Certificate from University of San Diego later that same year. She has been working as a Paralegal since 2016 in Family and Reproductive Law. She is excited to be part of International Fertility Law Group working on managing Surrogacy, Egg donation and Parental Establishment Cases.

Trish Pittman
Assistant Financial Coordinator

With more than 20 years of experience in the field of accounting, Trish joined the IFLG team in 2019 as Assistant Financial Coordinator. Her client-facing focus at IFLG is to assist with all client trust accounting. Trish is the mother of two daughters and enjoys spending time teaching and learning new things from them. In her free time, she loves long walks in the park and reading suspense and mystery novels.

Katie Deaquino
Senior Paralegal

Katie is a Senior Paralegal with IFLG and has dedicated over sixteen years to the areas of surrogacy and reproductive law. She received her Paralegal Certificate from Coastline Community College and has worked with some of the top law firms in the assisted reproduction community. Katie is also a commissioned Notary Public. With IFLG, Katie manages Surrogacy, Egg Donation, and Parental Establishment cases and provides support to other IFLG team members. Katie truly enjoys helping others build their families through assisted reproduction and is thankful she has had the rewarding experience of assisting IFLG clients. Katie often spends her free time with her Husband, four young children and her bulldog “Bella”.

Elsa Jimenez
Legal Assistant

Elsa joined IFLG as a Legal Assistant in 2019, bringing more than 35 years of experience working in the legal profession (concentrating in tort and litigation matters). At IFLG she assists surrogates with their surrogacy and parental matters. The oldest of five siblings, born and raised in East Los Angeles to Mexican immigrant parents, Elsa loves “seeing the beauty of families forming” through assisted reproductive technology. She and her husband Carlos have four children and one grandson. Elsa enjoys jazz and ’80s music, being outdoors in nature, collecting teacups and tea pots, and spending time with her close-knit family.