“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.”
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.