Reproductive Rights Duplicity

“Future generations will look back at the beginning of the 21st century and marvel that intelligent people actually tried to stop biomedical progress just to protect their cramped and limited vision of human nature.”

-Ronald Bailey

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Hello?  Is this thing on?  Can you hear me?  Here, let me step up here on this soapbox so you can hear me better.

Reproductive Rights.  What does that phrase mean to you?  According to the Center for Reproductive Rights their “issues reflect what a woman needs to direct her own life and make healthy decisions: Legal, safe, and affordable contraception and abortion.  Good obstetric and prenatal care for a safe & healthy pregnancy. Information about reproductive health that is free from censorship.”

I’m confused though as to why reproductive rights apparently only apply to those who can get pregnant and those who don’t want to get pregnant.  And an organization that’s whole purpose for existing is to further the reproductive rights of women has only officially been involved in one instance of the rights of couples to pursue fertility treatments (and that wasn’t even in the United States).

Another term that is quite a misnomer is family planning.  According to Wikipedia, “family planning is the planning of when to have children, and the use of birth control and other tecniques to implement such plans.  Other techniques commonly used include sexuality education, prevention and management of sexually transmitted infections, pre-conception counseling and management, and infertility management”.  But when you do a Google search for family planning the services that come up are birth control, sexual education and abortions.  And lets not even begin that the picture that was deemed appropriate to symbolize family planning in the Wikipedia article was a picture of a common birth control package.  Again, how is it that the term family planning apparently only applies to those who don’t want any or more family?

Realistically, why is infertility treatments not included in family planning?  Just because I am biologically impaired when it comes to conceiving my children doesn’t mean that the methods I choose are not family planning.  Considering the fact that a heck of a lot more “planning” goes into any fertility treatment, I’m confused as to why infertile couples are overlooked and often mocked for their family planning efforts.

Take into consideration the growing environmental movement.  An article written for the online blog Babble was about how eco-activists are pushing the idea of overpopulation and how it is environmentally irresponsible to excessively procreate.  Titled The New Eugenics, the article also discusses how couples who pursue fertility treatments are often scorned as being indulgent, selfish and the four-letter-word of the eco world – polluters.  The author uses another article from the New York Times Magazine, this article was written by a woman who hired a surrogate after five years of fertility treatments.  Yet despite being a well written article about one couples infertility journey and their choices in their family planning sadly very few of the anonymous commentors took away the intended meaning of the article.

There were 404 comments to this article.  The first comment was left by H.H. in Port Hardy, British Columbia, Canada.  The enlightened H.H left the following comment:  “You’d think with nearly 7 billion people on this planet, a couple might think of it as a blessing that they can not add any more “consumers” to our Earth’s already overstretched resources.”  Sadly, H.H. wasn’t the only person who left such comments.  The author wasn’t just chastised for adding more “consumers”, she was overwhelming dismissed as being elitist and having more money than sense. The comments to this one article overwhelmingly prove that that the population as a whole just does not get infertility issues.

I don’t know about you but Husband and I are not rich by any standard.  I am a medically-retired, stay-at-home-wife.  I go to school full time.  Husband works for the government.  Luckily I was able to retain my health insurance because of my pancre-ass but my military insurance doesn’t cover all of our fertility treatments.  Infertility is an expensive disease.  And one that isn’t just a physical affliction, its mentally and emotionally exhausting.  It is a disease that permeates to the very fiber of your being.  Biologically, your reason for existing.

I’ve read articles and comments that actually go as far as suggest that as an infertile couple, we should “save the world” and adopt.  We should not be allowed to procreate and/or should use the opportunity to rescue the abandoned children of the world.  I’m sorry.  I am not here to save the world of its ills.  I am one person and I have one question.  Why is it ok for you to procreate or not by using “family planning” but as an infertile am not?

In June, I participated in RESOLVE‘s Advocacy Day.  On a day that was filled with health care reform rallies and protesters, a group of women and men sat one-on-one with their elected congressional representatives to discuss infertility.  We simply asked for them to help us receive equal health care rights.  Currently only 15 states require insurance coverage for fertility treatment and even then the laws vary.  And just from my personal experience I encountered legislative workers who were not only not interested in helping but openly so.  Yet our current president and congress plan on including taxpayer funded abortions in the pending Health Care Reform (to be fair, they plan on not excluding it).

So here we are back to family planning.  I don’t know about you but I’m more than a little upset about all of this.  I take offense to the fact that a disease that already makes me feel less human, less of a woman also makes me a target for eco-activists, well meaning albeit a little miss-guided.  I feel that I have to stand up and speak for this disease that affects so many.  Because infertility doesn’t just affect me or Husband.  It affects our parents who are not grandparents, our siblings who have no nieces or nephews and our peers who are unsure where their friendship lies in our relationship.  I just want a family and I don’t know what’s more of a basic human right than that.

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33 Responses to “Reproductive Rights Duplicity”

  1. So many people in this world feel they have the right to judge others.
    Anyone who considers critizing people who are dealing with infertility is a jackass. Misguided individuals are a drain on our society.

    Thank you for your comment on my blog.

    Caragh

    ICLW

  2. Thought provoking! And somehow I’m still shocked by the number of people who simply do not get how painful and debilitating infertility can actually be.
    Thanks for commenting on my blog!
    ICLW

  3. All excellent points!! And hey, I was at Advocacy Day too! 😉

  4. witfactory Says:

    Well written. A reality check that should render any eco-activist null of further comment. They are misguided at best.

  5. kittyquilt Says:

    This is a great post – there are way too many examples of how misunderstood infertility is in the general population. Like we really need anything to make getting through this that much harder.
    Thank you so much for your comment on my blog- there are so many days when I need that reassurance and validation from others just to make it through.

  6. good post. this shit pisses me off too. and, not to bash overweight people, but why should treatments like gastric banding be covered when infertility is not? i didn’t cause my infertility from eating too much. it can’t be cured with diet and exercise. some say obecity is a health concern. well, would anyone like to know how many times i contemplated driving my car strainght into a tree b/c of failed treatments? IF is just as much of a health concern in my book.

    and, who are these assholes that are trying to dictate how many embryo’s (they are pushing for 1 no matter what instead of 2-3) we can put back. these same useless f*&kers are/were also trying to pass a law prohibiting the freezing of any leftover embryo’s that make it to blast stage. because they will be willing to foot the bill for another cycle if the fresh one doesn’t work and you don’t have any for a FET? i think not.

    wow, sorry. this stuff chaps my ass. thanks for stopping by my blog. i didn’t mean to write a book.

    ICLW

  7. I agree with you- family planning to me means planning when, how and how large of a family to have, the answers are individual and should be protected by health insurance and the law. Two nights ago I got a phone call from Planned Parenthood, asking for my support. While I support what they do, I wish they would add those of us who are desperately ‘planning’ our families to the very best of our abilities to their vision of ‘Planned Parenthood’.

    Thanks for writing this.

  8. Wow, really makes you think about things huh? Excellent post by the way. Thank you for your comment on my blog! And no, there havent really been any crazy symptoms yet 🙂 I finally got over the morning sickness aspect about a week and a half ago. Hopefully for the rest of my pregnancy! We will see 🙂

    **ICLW**

  9. Great post! Very thought provoking!

    ICLW

  10. Very well thought out post and I appreciate your comments. I’m from Canada and it isn’t much different here either. I had some insurance, which pretty much covered just one treatment. Had it worked, I would have been considered myself very fortunate, but I had to wait and save up more money for subsequent treatments. All I got was the “a woman your age” speech. And I blamed myself for “waiting” til I was 38 to get married and try for children when I was in a stable relationship. I have since discovered so many women who are under 35 and can’t get pregnant. Our government bitches about the low population growth but won’t cover fertility treatments. My time has come and gone for TTC but I wish for all infertile couples to get the acknowledgment and medicare they deserve.

  11. What a brilliant post. I am so impressed with your well thought out and logical arguments.

    ~ICLW

  12. I agree with you… wholeheartedly! Is there room on your soapbox for two?

  13. Alison, thank you very much for your comments on my blog.

    What a thought-provoking post! I had never thought about that term “family planning,” but it clearly is a misnomer! Kudos to you for going to Resolve’s day in DC (while I thought of going, I didn’t get my lazy *ss there)! I am disappointed to hear that many legislators were unsympathetic. It is amazing how many people just don’t understand the devastating impact (and as you note, the far-reaching impact) of IF. Thanks for standing on your soap box!

    ICLW

    • Advocacy Day was awesome. I’m telling you next year you should go. I have never felt more empowered and LESS like my infertility was a personal fault! It was hard but so worth it.
      I hope you join us next year.

  14. Adoption is noble. But to be suggested that as a blanket cure for IF is ridiculous.

    And why would the IFers have to bear the brunt of the fertile humans again and again and again.

    Adoption is a very personal decision…and it is a huge investment – genealogically, financially and emotionally.

    Some people refuse to believe so.

    ICLW

  15. Very well written post. It pisses me off, too.

    Thank you for standing up.

    ((Hugs))

    Happy ICLW

  16. ifcrossroads Says:

    Happy ICLW!

    I was very happy to meet you at Advocacy Day and I hope that we were able to make somewhat of an impact with people in our home state!

    It still pisses me off that my hubby can get Viagra covered under our insurance policy but that I can’t get one red cent for infertility coverage.

  17. Happy ICLW 🙂

    Thanks for the comment on my blog! I used to feel like running was only for use when being chased too (haha). Finally I got so restless from sitting at a desk all day that I just had to so something.

    I’m lucky, I haven’t experienced any bad comments about being infertile but I haven’t gone through any fertility treatments either. My heart goes out to everyone who has to put up with this bullshit on top of the pain of IF.

    (I read your “About Me” post as well. You are very well spoken – It was a pleasure to read!)

  18. Awesome post!

  19. Yeah, I totally agree. Reproductive rights and family planning should include any type of reproductive issues, including those of us who very much want to get pregnant. I blogged about this recently as well. And for those eco-activists who say IF treatments are just wasting resources, you can point out that our low birth rate is contributing to the insolvency of Social Security. If birth rates were higher, there would be more workers in 20 years or so to support retirees. (Not that that’s a reason to have kids, but smart-aleck activists deserve a similar response).

    And thanks for stopping by my blog. I also feel that the only reason to run is when you are being chased.

  20. As an ecologist, I have to point out that there is actually some pretty sound evidence that the sustainable human carrying capacity of the earth has been passed, it’s not just the rantings of a bunch of crazy eco-activists. At the same time, those numbers are all based on current consumption and carbon trends, and there’s lots of room to lower both of those on an individual and societal level. At the same time, having a family that is right for those involved is a human rights issue about which everyone should be concerned. That includes allowing people to be parents or not as they choose, not as a default. Although I do think some people (ahem- Octomom and the like- ahem) maybe should reconsider how many children they are creating.

  21. HAPPY ICLW!

    Great work on your post! I was nodding and shaking my head many times!

    Since we encountered secondary infertility, I’ve made it a point to tell EVERYONE about our struggles. My daughter who is 12 knows all about our struggles to conceive her little brother (who is now 6). I’ve made sure she knows that pregnancy and children aren’t a given. I want her to know that many women go through struggles and if she happens to be one of them, she is not alone. I’ll do my best to let my son know the same things. Although, I’m not sure how to do it. Guess I’ll figure it out as he gets older.

    Thank you for doing your part in getting the word out. And making it so one woman (hopefully more) know she isn’t alone and it is her right to have a child. I believe family planning should encompass EVERYTHING!
    *HUGS*

  22. Excellent post. I am from Australia and whilst some of our issues are different, the is an attitudinal similarity. Australia ‘had’ one of the best coverages of fertility treatments that was covered under what we call a Medicare Safety net, then it all changed in our budget this year. I read many articles with commentors such as the ones that you listed and honestly, I had trouble coming to terms with just how some people think. We also have some crazy regulations here such as a new one that comes in next month, every couple that has IVF must have a police check done with fingerprinting. I get SO angry – sorry will get off my high horse now. Really great post!!

    ICLW

  23. Great, thought-provoking blog!! I am very anti-abortion on a personal lever it just makes me so sick to even think about it, and hearing that it’s going to become a common thing – like getting a mole removed – makes me even sicker. The fact that women and men who suffer from infertility but kids can go out and make babies and toss them away like a news paper just irritates me. It’s okay for the kids because “they don’t know any better” BS and infertile couples are looked at like “maybe there is a reason you can’t have kids” …… excuse me??? Sexual Education was suppose to decrease teen sex and the like, but all it has done is give them an instruction manual, and now there is more teen pregnancy and other issues going on. Again, apparently your blog provoked some thoughts. Thanks for sharing your POV 🙂

    Happy ICLW 🙂

  24. Depression caused by infertility is covered. Infertility is not covered. That is typical of all medicine – treat the symptom, not the cause. Ugh.

  25. Question: Can’t you add a section on infertility to Wikipedia’s Family Planning page yourself? I thought that’s how the site worked.

    Excellent stump speech, though. Reproductive rights and family planning should involve anything where egg has the possibility to meet sperm.

  26. Here from LFCA/Kirtsy. Excellent post. I believe in full reproductive rights & choices, but you’re right, it really should extend both ways, shouldn’t it? And while I am proud to call myself a feminist, I am disappointed that the feminist movement is quick to lobby for reproductive rights when it comes to birth control, abortion, etc. , but strangely silent when it comes to matters of infertility & reproductive loss.

  27. Great post! I’ve often felt like infertile women have been completely left out of the “reproductive rights” dialogue. I would like to point out, that even if we were all to agree that zero population growth was a goal to have, it would allow for each of us to replace ourselves, or, two children per couple. Not that I think it is anyone’s business to tell me or someone else whether they should or should not have children. I’m totally linking to this post.

  28. Here’s from Mrs. Spock’s blog…

    what an excellent post. Very well said.
    I’ve been wondering the same thing.

  29. Great post! Just goes to show the birth control mentality that wrecks havoc on our nation. I am not sure that I agree with having all fertility treatments covered by insurance as I do not believe in test tube babies or even freezing humans. I don’t know about you but I would hate to be put in a freezer for the rest of my life to only be disposed of down a drain. But then I also think that when people lovingly think that life begins with them and not God you run into that issue, leading back to the birth control mentality. One viscious circle that we have found ourselves in……

  30. I have always joked that my family was created through the ultimate in family planning.

    Having endured well meaning comments that I should just adopt because I would be surprised how much I could love a child I didn’t create, I agree that although adoption can be a great way to create a family it does not cure the desire for a bio-child.

    And…the whole anti-assisted reproduction thing seems a bit anti-gay/lesbian family creation. The three couples with whom I most bonded about fertility issues were all same gender pairs.

  31. Hello!

    My name is Elisabeth, and I am an infertility / repeated pregnancy loss “veteran”. You can read a little bit about me and my experiences in my (not very updated) blog: drhousewife.blogspot.com . I am completing a PhD in Counseling Psychology, and my dissertation is focused upon the impact of infertility on marriage. I believe strongly that there is a need for better support services for men and women who are undergoing IF diagnosis and treatment, and my hope is that this study will aid in the development of such services.

    I am contacting you after stumbling across your blog. I am recruiting participants for my study, and wanted to invite you and your husband to take part. All that would be involved would be the completion of an online survey, that would take approximately 20 minutes. All couples who complete the surveys will receive a voucher good for a pair of free movie tickets at a Regal Cinemas.

    Please let me know if you are interested by emailing me at UTInfertilityResearch@gmail.com . I have included the criteria for participation below.

    Feel free to pass information along to anyone you know who might be interested in contributing to this study.

    Best of luck to you!
    Elisabeth

    Member of a married, heterosexual couple
    Both you and your spouse are between the ages of 20 – 45
    You do not have any biological or adopted children living in your home
    You are not currently pregnant
    Either you, your spouse, or both has received an infertility diagnosis
    You have received treatment for infertility in the past six months, or plan to do so in the next six months
    Both you and your partner are willing to participate & have access to the internet

  32. Wonderful, informative post!

    I wish the jackasses that suggest those struggling with IF should just adopt would have been “forced” to adopt themselves. I’m by no means against adoption, but with my whole heart I hope and pray for a biological child too.

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