Kelly Trent and Beverly Newell have been married for a year, together for two, and are ready to start a family. When intrauterine insemination (IUI) treatments proved unsuccessful, Trent and Newell knew they needed to move on to the more complex and costlier alternative of in vitro fertilization (IVF).
They were happy with the services provided by the clinic they had gone to for IUI treatments, a Charlotte business called REACH, which stands for Reproductive Endocrinology Associates of Charlotte. Trent says that clinic treated them well throughout. A friend of theirs suggested another clinic, however, telling them it would be significantly less expensive.
Their friend, who is in a heterosexual relationship, had gotten pregnant through going to this other clinic, called Advanced Reproductive Concepts, Trent says.
Trent reports that she called the clinic, located in the Charlotte suburb of Huntersville, in early March for a consultation. She says she provided them with both she and her partner’s information at that time.
“We haven’t had any communication with them since early March, and then they called us on Friday afternoon, the 1st, and said they would not be able to accept us as a patient; that they were not accepting any same sex couples at this time,” Trent says. “And I asked why, and she said they’re a small clinic and they’re busy and they’re just not focused on that right now, and they may in the future accept single-sex couples, but they aren’t at this time.
“And honestly, I was so shocked that I just hung up the phone without demanding further explanation.”
Trent is not sure who exactly she spoke with, although she assumes it was a receptionist. She says she and her partner have called back several times trying to get a more complete explanation, but that they have been unsuccessful.
Trent believes the clinic could have told her they were not accepting new patients and left it at that. Their failure to do so leads her to believe that they were, as she says, “trying to make a point.”
“If they had told us a month ago that they didn’t accept same sex couples, that’s one thing. But to waste our time for an entire month thinking that this was an option for us is even more appalling,” Trent says.
This all comes, of course, in a post HB2 North Carolina, which stripped Charlotte of its non-discrimination ordinance, which the city council voted to expand to include LGBT protections. Those protections would have gone into place on April 1.
“This is a highly personal, emotionally charged issue for us, and to take it public was not something that we did lightly,” Trent says. “We considered, and talked as a couple, and decided that it was necessary because this bill (HB2) has been using the restroom issue as a Trojan horse, to keep women and children safe, but this bill effects everyone, not just us. And we wanted to know that this puts a human spin on it.
“We’re trying to start a family. We’re a legitimate, married same sex couple. We pay taxes. We’re good citizens.”
Updated website language to exclude gay couples?
Trent also claims that the clinic changed the language on their website recently. On their page describing artificial insemination, under the “Services Offered” tab, it begins, “Artificial insemination can be performed with either your male partner’s sperm.”
Trent says this now grammatically incorrect sentence used to read something along the lines of, “Artificial insemination can be performed with either a donor’s or your male partner’s sperm.”
You will also find that the subheading reads, “Artificial Insemination with Husband’s Sperm (AIH),” language which excludes lesbian couples.
When reached for comment Advanced Reproductive Concepts said they deny Trent’s claim and would provide us with a written response within 48 hours. We will update with more information as it becomes available.
UPDATE (4/5/16 7:15 P.M.), The clinic responds:
Advanced Reproductive Concepts has responded. Below is their written statement.
To Whom It May Concern:
It has come to the attention of Advanced Reproductive Concepts that an individual who inquired about services at our clinic has made libelous and defamatory statements about our practice on multiple social media platforms and is now further seeking to defame our practice through traditional media outlets.
In response to the false and untruthful statements stating the practice discriminates based on sexual orientation, all allegations are denied. Due to FDA regulations and requirements, limited staff and the scaling back of our practice, Advanced Reproductive Concepts is not currently accepting new donor sperm cases for any couples regardless of sexual orientation. Advanced Reproductive Services is a small boutique practice and does not offer all reproductive services but chooses to specialize in in vitro fertilization cases which do not involve the use of third party donors. The libelous and defamatory statements circulating on social media are based on conjecture and conclusory opinions which are not well grounded in fact.
Other reproductive endocrinologists in the Charlotte area and elsewhere in the state offer services involving third party donors and Advanced Reproductive Concepts wishes all individuals interested in such services success in growing their family and hope they find a practice which fulfills their needs.
Advanced Reproductive Concepts does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, national origin (ancestory), disability, sexual orientation, or military status.
Based upon the advice of legal counsel, we cannot offer any further comment at this time as we are currently reviewing our legal options.