Infertility Advocacy 2020: It’s Simpler Than Ever
RESOLVE's Advocacy Day 2020 will hold on firmly to a place in history: it’s the first time we’ll be gathering together… from our homes rather than the Capitol. It’s an unprecedented move that we hope will bring out even more advocates to fight for reproductive rights.
It also raises lots of questions, starting with, will it be the only time we stand together on this day to advocate remotely, or simply the first time that we do this?
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let’s answer the basic questions first. What is Advocacy Day? Who can participate? What would I have to do? I hate politics, is this really for me? And, ultimately, in the middle of this crazy time, how hard is this?
We will take it one question at a time. And if at the end, you still have questions, you’ll let us know. This is our goal, to ensure you know how to participate, so ask away!
Here’s a mantra for focus- think pro-family, talk pro-family. And look at the very end to see our secret goal.
What is Advocacy Day?
RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, in partnership with the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and with immeasurable help from impassioned fertility advocates from all over the country, come together to talk to the Senators and Congresspeople who represent us in Washington, DC about infertility, and why fertility treatment is an essential service, necessary medical treatment and the only solution for family building for one in eight couples. The specific issues being advocated for are listed further down.
What is The Link Between Infertility and Advocacy?
Throughout most cultures, and since the beginning of time, infertility has been seen, not as a disease, but as a lifestyle choice, mistake, or even the fault of the person who’s having trouble conceiving. People have been blamed for waiting too long, having too many sexual partners, using various birth control methods, wanting something that isn’t coming “naturally,” trying to play God, and so on and so on.
All this, rather than the simple truth that infertility is reproductive disease – a matter of the reproductive system not functioning the way in which it is supposed to. The argument that an infertile person has brought it on themselves belies the fact that there are many other diseases more prone to develop due to lifestyle choices than infertility.
One in eight couples will be affected by infertility and yet in thirty six states in the U.S., there are no insurance laws or state mandates ensuring that medical coverage to treat their disease is provided. Many in these thirty six states will be forced to pay for necessary fertility treatment, while continuing to pay insurance premiums that specifically exclude coverage for reproductive disease.
This is an antiquated and unfair position for anyone affected by infertility to be in.
What’s the Difference Between State and Federal Advocacy?
There are fertility insurance laws on a state by state basis that are being fought for- in the past year, we’ve celebrated success in New Hampshire, New York, and Colorado. Individual states will continue to push for fertility insurance coverage, but even as they do, there are changes that need to be made on the Federal level that would level the playing field, so that someone living in one state, just over a border, would not be discriminated against because of that state’s laws.
How is Federal Advocacy Day Different This Year?
In the past, RESOLVE, ASRM, and the fertility advocates have gone to Washington and spoken directly with the legislators, senators and representatives. This year, it’s not possible and, it turns out, that may be a positive aspect to the pandemic we’re all experiencing. For the first time, advocates are going to be able to give the relevant information, share their personal stories, and tell their legislators what they want and need, without the expenses and time associated with travel.
This year, advocates will be able to communicate with their legislators directly from home, giving many more opportunities to speak up about how infertility has affected their lives.
What Are We Telling Our Legislators We Need?
These are the issues that advocates will be discussing with the legislators:
1. Access to Infertility Treatment & Care Act
2. Woman Veterans and Families Health Services Act of 2019
3. Every Child Deserves a Family Act
4. Tax Credit Refundability Act of 2019
5. PCOS Awareness Month Resolution
6. Medical Research Funding More specifics can be found in this collaborative video with RESOLVE and ASRM
Who Are My Legislators? How Do I Find Out Who They Are?
First, to send a letter, the good news is that RESOLVE has already done the work via a digital letter campaign. Go to this link and you will be able to send your letters without doing one more thing. If you’re like many of us, you’re not sure who you need to write to, so FYI, there will be letters sent to your two U.S. senators, and one to your representative from your congressional district. (Click on those links to see who your legislators are.)
Do I Have to Be Public About My Advocacy?
Even if you decide to attend the May 20th Advocacy Day, these are not public meetings or conversations. No one outside of RESOLVE and your legislators will know that you’re attending. If you prefer not to be shown in any social media posts, you will not be. Your participation does not have to be public.
To send a letter, you will need to include your information as your legislators will receive those letters - you are their constituent. They are interested in what’s important to you as they want and need your support as much as you want and need theirs. At some point, they will come up for reelection and they will want your vote. You may receive a letter back from your legislators, thanking and acknowledging your communication to them. Other than that, there is no public record of your letter, it is a private message.
How Do I Sign Up to Be an Advocate?
Read here for a rundown on the day. It can be as little as three phone calls for new advocates or more if you have the time.
I’m Not Political, So Why Should I Get Involved With This Effort?
One in eight couples require medical treatment to have their family. This is a pro-family, bi- partisan effort. Regardless of whether you identify as red or blue or neither, this is about families, not politics. If you’re reading this, it’s because something about infertility drew your attention. Tell your legislators that you care about family building.
How Do I Support the Pro-Family Effort?
Add to the letters by personalizing it with your story or your connection to infertility and fertility advocacy.
Ask your friends, family, colleagues, neighbors, and anyone else you can think of to send the letters.
Be public and ask everyone, there’s zero cost involved.
Be private and send only your own.
Any end of the spectrum is helpful, encouraged, and appreciated.
Why Help Now?
In the middle of a crazy and chaotic time, there is this surprising silver lining. The ability to be a fertility advocate from your own home. No travel, no expense, no extra time or energy needed.
Take advantage of this moment in time because it’s so very easy to add your voice in supporting those who can’t build their families without help.
Here at RMA of Connecticut, our secret (not so secret) goal?
That’s right. 100,000 letters.
Let’s do the math. One in eight couples in the United States. Population is 328 million+. If my math is correct (which is always suspect), that means about 41 million people affected by infertility. Stated that way, 100,000 letters doesn’t seem like all that much, does it?
Write the letter. Share the letter. Add your voice.
About Lisa Rosenthal
Lisa has over thirty years of experience in the fertility field. After her personal infertility journey, she felt dissatisfied with the lack of comprehensive services available to support her. She was determined to help others undergoing fertility treatment. Lisa has been with RMACT for eleven years and serves as Patient Advocate and the Strategic Content Lead.
Lisa is the teacher and founder of Fertile Yoga, a program designed to support men and women on their quest for their families through gentle movement and meditation.
Lisa’s true passion is supporting patients getting into treatment, being able to stay in treatment and staying whole and complete throughout the process. Lisa is also a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist, which is helpful in her work with fertility patients.
Her experience also includes working with RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association and The American Fertility Association (now Path2Parenthood), where she was Educational Coordinator, Conference Director and Assistant Executive Director.