Infertility & Reproductive Autonomy
Reproductive autonomy means different things to different people. For me, and for the 1 in 5 U.S. citizens like me who are affected by infertility, reproductive autonomy is about having the opportunity to bring children into the world.
Note: In the wake of the 2022 U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade, reproductive freedom is being stripped away on many different levels. Dr. Murdock shared more here about how that can impact our community.
Maybe you were able to have children on your own. Perhaps you struggled with infertility but were fortunate enough to have great insurance coverage, excellent clinicians and really good luck, and were able to become a parent through some form of fertility treatment.
Maybe adoption was the perfect choice for you to expand your family.
Maybe you could have had children but decided against it.
No matter your personal decisions around family building, everyone deserves the chance to have a family of their own if they so choose. On Advocacy Day, we raise our voices for everyone who has struggled to have the family they dream of.
Why participate in Advocacy Day?
I am often asked why I'm so passionate about advocacy. While many people (including myself) have personal reasons for wanting to get involved in infertility advocacy, here are five powerful reasons to consider participating:
- Find community: Join together to collectively tell our legislators that family building is important to us and needs to be a priority.
- Get empowered: Because infertility may include loss and grief, but it doesn’t have to end there. You can turn your struggles into strengths.
- Take action: It's easy to participate, especially now that Advocacy Day is virtual!
- Change your story: Take back control by being part of the change. In the last 30+ years, 19 states have mandated insurance coverage, including IVF. You can change your story (or help someone else change theirs) by using your voice to push for more progress.
- Find your ending and help others find theirs. We’re not alone, we’re 1 in 5. And while this is a group no one ever wanted to be in, we are so much stronger together.
Keep reading to dive a little deeper! If you feel drawn to any of these reasons, please register for Advocacy Day and join us (virtually) on April 25th.
5 Reasons to Become an Advocate
1. Find Community
When you join RESOLVE and ASRM for Advocacy Day, you join a community of people telling our legislators that we are passionate about family-building issues. Here's what we want to convey:
- We want them to support legislation that will change how reproductive disease is treated in the United States
- We should be able to use the medical insurance we pay for to cover the medical condition that we are facing (infertility)
- That having a family (or not being able to) greatly impacts the rest of our lives
- That 1 in 5 people need accessible, appropriate medical treatment to have a child
- That infertility not only means you can't have a baby, it also means others cannot become aunts, uncles, grandparents - it means the end of a family's biological lineage
2. Get Empowered
Empowerment is the one word echoed over the years around Advocacy Day. When you take a step forward to tell legislators how vital family-building bills are, you change. I know it has changed me. Empowerment is a word that RESOLVE hears more often than any other.
Advocacy Day provides a space to express frustrations over not being able to have the family you dreamed of on the timeline you expected (or at all).
We carefully craft our stories to ensure the full impact of our experiences are conveyed. Legislators often stay silent throughout our meetings, sometimes ending the session in tears. They also often have lots of questions, and we are able to explain why infertility is a disease that deserves their attention.
Being able to do all of this feels incredibly empowering.
3. Take Action
Infertility can make us feel broken. Less than. Damaged. Helpless. All emotions that no one wants to feel. But we have to remember that these feelings are not facts.
One way to counter these feelings is to take action. If you are still trying to grow your family, you are probably taking many actions to achieve that goal. On Advocacy Day, you get to take a different type of action.
Taking action to create lasting change can feel incredibly satisfying. That’s where advocacy comes in. It’s your opportunity to take action in a way that can literally change the world.
You can help change who is able to access fertility treatment and if/when insurance coverage is offered to those struggling with infertility, which are both life-changing!
To put it simply, infertility is not political, it does not discriminate, it affects healthy human beings and it can damage dreams, impair hope and cause faith to falter.
Infertility is a battle that we all can take part in defeating.
4. Change Your Story
The dream of becoming a parent becomes battered, with the possibility of being lost forever. Friendships and other relationships are affected, due to the challenges of being with others who already have children or those who simply don't understand what we're going through.
Infertility is about loss:
The emotional pain of feeling unsuccessful at fulfilling the biological instinct to become a parent is intense. How we spend our time and money is affected. Vacations, career advancement, moves and other milestones are deferred as medical appointments, treatment cycles and paying for treatment take precedence.
There is also a loss of reproductive autonomy when we aren't able to depend on our own bodies to function the way we expect them to.
Infertility is about being courageous:
From taking the first step of booking an appointment to finding the strength to ask questions, see clinicians and doctors, go through fertility testing, deal with injections, procedures, anesthesia, hormones, investigating adoption or fostering, making decisions...it all takes a lot of courage.
Infertility is about family:
Every family looks different. Some families grow by having biological children, some grow through fertility treatment, some grow through adoption or fostering, and some find completion as a couple or a single-person family.
5. Find Your Ending
One thing about infertility is that when you’re in the middle of it, it can feel never-ending. Like you'll be stuck there forever. Time both slows down and speeds up, especially if you're worried about your "biological clock" that's ticking away.
One truth about the journey to have a baby is that it eventually does end.
Whether it ends because you have limited insurance coverage, because you've exhausted your medical treatment options that are appropriate or helpful, because of finances, or because you finally have that long-awaited baby...it does end.
Help us make sure that no one has to end their story before they’re ready to. Help us tell our legislators that infertility deserves to be treated as a disease, with appropriate access to fertility care. Because our families and our dreams matter.
Looking for free, one-on-one infertility support? Email me to connect anytime.
Be An Advocate for Change
Register now and join us for RESOLVE's Advocacy Day on April 25, 2023 to encourage members of Congress to prioritize family-building legislation, research and funding. Your voice and story are powerful, and when joined with the voices of others, cannot be ignored.