Showing posts with label Advocacy and Awareness. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Advocacy and Awareness. Show all posts

July 7, 2011

Unnatural Act, Unspeakable Crime

To kill your own child: it's literally a crime against nature. Granted, some biologists might argue that it's perfectly in line with nature, as there are several species that kill and even eat their own offspring. But this is one of those times that for all of our animal instincts, I'd like to think that humans have risen above this in our evolutionary progress.

I had not planned on writing about Casey Anthony, I really hadn't. I remember the hearing about this horrific crime and horrible tragedy of Caylee's death a few years ago; back then, I still had network and cable TV. A pretty young (and white) mom and her adorable toddler, their faces splashed all over the news. It was a disturbing story.

I hadn't really given it any thought since then until I started noticing it trending in on my Twitter home feed, among many of you, in the last few weeks. Since we only have internet TV at home, I didn't have a steady stream of news coverage waiting for me. Since I get most of my news on my commute to and from work, I didn't really get much more as NPR didn't have much to say about the trial. So I gleaned little bits and pieces from Twitter. I didn't even bother to read about it further online.

After the verdict was read on Tuesday, Twitter basically exploded. And even with my very limited knowledge of the case and trial proceedings, I was saddened and disturbed.

And that's where my commentary on the whole mess ends. It's a sad and disturbing story - that's it. I don't fault the jurors - they were fulfilling their civic duty. If anything, the fault lies with the prosecution; they failed to meet the burden of proof. It mirrors in many ways the very disturbing "Rape Cops" court case that wrapped up last month in New York.

Was justice served in either case? Perhaps not. But the judicial process was honored. (Danielle at Kitten a Go-Go has some rather excellent commentary on this thought, in her post The Casey Anthony Verdict: One Lawyer's Perspective.)

And... that's it. End of story.

Or is it?

Jjiraffe at Too Many Fish to Fry has an excellent post on her thoughts about the Casey Anthony trial. I particularly appreciated her viewpoint as she, like me, hadn't really followed the trial at all. On the other hand, Katie of from IF to when was my complete opposite. She was obsessed with the Casey Anthony trial, she admits. When the verdict was read, she was stunned.

Both are ALI community bloggers and we all shared the same thought, no matter how much or how little we were invested in this case:

It's not fair. It's just not fucking fair. She (said with judgment, disdain, and disgust) got to have a child but we don't??

For me, as I noted in my comment on Jjiraffe's post, it's not so much the unfairness as it is trying to process a very disturbing truth: how can a mother kill her own child?

This is not an isolated narrative, either. In fact, it just played out here in the New England region just two months ago. A mother from Texas drove to Maine and killed her 6-year-old son. Six. Years. Old. I just can't wrap my brain around it. But there have been many Casey Anthonys. We just used to call them Susan Smiths before this latest trial.

Or La Llorona.

Or Medea.

It's unnatural - a literal crime against nature. It's sick. It's an archetypal narrative that rocks us to the core that makes for salacious storytelling when it's in fictional form and horrifies us when we see it actually play out in real life.

That's why the Casey Anthony trial has sparked the outrage that it has: because this unnatural crime deserves justice - this forsaken mother must pay for her crimes.

Except this time, the American judicial system got in the way.

. . .

I thought my commentary was over, but it's not. I have one more thing to add. As Twitter blew up, so did my Facebook feed. I need to give my friend Jessa some recognition too, because her Facebook status was one of the most well-said:

While I'm thankful the onus of official judgment didn't rest on my shoulders, I have to say I'm disappointed by the verdict. Any mother who doesn't report her child missing for 31 days and the child is subsequently found dead should at the very least be found guilty of manslaughter.

No matter how the evidence was shown at this trial, this is the one fact about the whole Casey Anthony case that disturbs me as equally as the idea of a mother killing her own child. It's the one fact that's been nagging at me.

Verdict aside, not reporting your two year-old child missing for a month is tantamount to child abuse.

I think what many of us have forgotten in our outrage over Casey Anthony's trial is the fact that a child is dead.

Nearly five children die every day in America from abuse and neglect. In 2009, an estimated 1,770 children died from abuse in the United States (source). We can let Caylee become another statistic or we can educate ourselves and channel our outrage into advocacy.  

Take a minute to check out Childhelp, a national non-profit focused on providing support and resources for victims of child abuse and neglect. Find out what you can do to help.

How are you processing all of this after the verdict in the Casey Anthony trial?

June 13, 2011

Of SpermComets, Cellphones & Wannabe Dads: Men's Health Week 2011

It's that time of year again, guys: Men's Health Month is here and this week is Men's Health Week! I know I talk a lot about my lady bits at this blog, but let's not forget that infertility is not just a woman's issue. In 30-40% of cases, infertility is the result of the man. And while I know there are a broad range of health concerns for men besides infertility, I choose to highlight how men  can be impacted by infertility during this Men's Health Week. Believe me: there's plenty we can talk about on just this subject alone.

Take for example, the latest news to come out of Queen's University Belfast. Researchers there have developed a test for sperm quality that could revolutionize the diagnosis of male infertility and assist couples in determining the best path for fertility treatment in the process. The test, in all its inifinite wisdom has been named (and trademarked) as... wait for it...

The SpermComettest.

Now, I assure you that the name is not the result of a haughty researcher ego: the results actually look a bit celestial.The test itself measures the DNA quality of sperm. Knowing this information is key to predicting the success of certain infertility treatments over others. The SpermComet™ test is indeed 'groundbreaking' as its been described in the media, as it provides another way of giving couples more diagnostic information to make more informed decisions regarding their treatment. The test may ultimately lead them on a faster path to success.

Also making news in the past couple of weeks is the that cellphone use can impact a men's fertility, specifically the development of sperm. The study comes out of Queen's University Kingston (Ontario, Canada); it's not clear from what I read what exactly they mean about "use." The study was conducted from 1997-2003; the iPhone wasn't even released until June 2007 (which is totally crazy when you think about that for a second). I'm sure cellphone "use" in their study meant call time, but as we all know, that has broadened quite a bit in the age of smartphones. Sure I use my phone all the time, but not just for calls: checking email, GPS, playing music, banking, etc. In fact, call time probably makes up the lesser amount of time that I actually use my phone. Ditto my husband.

The study has examined the role of cellphone frequencies and their impact on sperm DNA. Their findings? There's a definite link between sperm health and cellphone use. Ladies: remind your gentlemen friends to keep their phones out of their pockets from now on and maybe that they don't need to play another level of Angry Birds.

But if you're worried, you can always have a SpermComet™ done.

All kidding aside, Men's Health Week always falls the week before Fathers' Day every year and the emotional health of the men in our lives in just as vital as their physical health. There are plenty of Wannabe Dads out there who find Fathers' Day just as painful as Mothers' Day for their wives and partners. This year I asked people to Remember Us on Sunday; that post came from a very woman-centric place. This year (and every year!) I'm asking folks to remember the Wannabe Dads this Sunday for Fathers' Day. Men have a biological clock too, and while it may not always be in sync with ours, we can't forget that it takes two to make a baby and that just as much as we want to be moms, they want to be dads, too.

I'm not saying go out and grab your guy a new tie and some golf clubs, but don't forget about his feelings this Sunday too. For all the tips and tricks you can use to make it through Mothers' Day, the same can be applied to Fathers' Day. Go out and have a day to celebrate yourselves or just celebrate the Wannabe Dad in your life. Stay away from kids on Sunday, if you can. Make it a weekend getaway. Or, maybe just give your spouse a little extra space if he needs it. Men process their emotions in a variety of ways, some more overt than others. You know your guy best, but make a plan on how to tackle That Dreaded Sunday in June.  RESOLVE has a great guide for coping with both Mothers' and Fathers' Day on their website that I highly recommend.

For more fertility-related Men's Health Week goodness, check out my Five Myths of Male-Factor Infertility, as well as last year's Men's Health Week Roundup.

What are you doing to recognize Men's Health Week? How are you coping with Fathers' Day coming up this Sunday?

May 26, 2011

WBZTV News: Infertility Doesn't Just Affect Older Women

Check it out! Here's the news piece from WBZ-TV, Boston's CBS news station, on our story of infertility and how my younger age plays a factor. Reporter Christina Hager has put together a really compassionate piece and I'm so honored and grateful that she reached out to me for her story.

You can read the story here online - Infertility doesn't just affect older women; or just hit play below. The video runs just over two and a half minutes long. (If it doesn't load, just click the link to the story above and scroll down for the video on WBZ-TV's website.)

  • If you're visiting my blog from the news piece: welcome! You can get a brief overview of our infertility journey here. I'm happy to talk with folks so don't hesitate to contact me via email (see my Media page above).
  • Correction: Larry and I need to save up $18,000 to begin IVF treatment with donor egg, not $1800, as is mentioned in the piece. Looks like they left off a zero.
  • The piece ended mentioning the Family Act, an infertility tax credit bill. You can find out more about the infertility tax credit here - and how you can help by contacting your Senators to ask for their co-sponsorship of this important legislation.
  • Please feel free to share this news story on your own blogs, FB, and Twitter. Here's a link for your convenience: 

Thanks for tuning in and thank you Christina and WBZ-TV for helping to raise awareness for an important public health issue!

May 25, 2011

The Power of 1000 Women

Join the 1000Women movement

I recently discovered EmpowHer, a women's health website. I was intrigued by their 1000 Women campaign, a massive effort to reach 1,000,000 women online to create a huge social media women's health advocacy movement. From their website:
Through our 1000Women campaign, EmpowHER is recruiting 1,000 women who will then each reach out to 1,000 women to create the biggest movement for women’s health and wellness. When we have reached our goal of reaching 1,000,000 women, EmpowHER will donate $50,000 towards women’s health research. In 2001, the Institute of Medicine validated the need for studying the sex differences in all areas of biomedical and health-related research. However, since women were excluded from most major medical research studies before the 1990s, there is still so much to learn about health conditions that are unique to women or affect women differently than men. Your involvement in this campaign can help change this and save lives.
It's a fascinating, inspired idea and speaks to so much of what I write about here on this blog: it's important to get out there and share our stories. By opening up about our infertility to others we help to lift the silence that surrounds our entire infertility community. Our stories make the infertility experience real to others; we give infertility faces and names.

To that end, I've shared my story on While every infertility story is unique, we share so many of the same themes in our journeys. 

I'm asking folks to vote for my story of infertility awareness and advocacy. I bet that between here, Facebook, Twitter, and my friends and family I could get 1000 votes!

You can share my story with others by tweeting the following:

@MiriamsHope is a Voice for #Infertility Awareness. Vote for her story at @1000womendotcom

What's in it for me? I would be featured on and that's pretty much it. What's in it for you? A single click and registering with your email address (you can opt out of emails from EmpowerHer) helps to further advocate for infertility awareness.

I know infertility isn't just a women's issue, but with an audience like that at EmpowHer, I think it's vital to make sure our disease is given the spotlight it deserves. All it takes is a minute to click the link and cast your vote - that's it!

And with that folks, I'm out for the day. Off to celebrate my birthday tonight with loads of oysters and a chilly bottle of champagne.

May 18, 2011

I Beg to Differ, Max: Infertility is NOT a Social Condition

I saw a curious tweet on Thursday last week from @maxpemberton in my infertility feed on Hoot Suite: @randomtwitteruser It's about IVF and infertility funding in the NHS *gulp* So I clicked to see the conversation and this was the tweet that preceded it:
So when I saw his Telegraph column pop up in my infertility news Google Alert, Infertility is distressing, says Max Pemberton, but it’s a condition the NHS can ill-afford to treat, I of course clicked over to take a read. Boy howdy, I was not prepared for what I read. The crux of Mr. Pemberton's article is that the NHS (the UK's National Health Service) should stop funding all IVF procedures. He goes on then to list the justifications for this argument. His column starts out cautiously, almost tip-toeing towards his argument: "...I thought long and hard about the reaction it [this column] would provoke... It is not my intention to add to people’s grief."

It isn't long though before Mr. Pemberton drops all the nicities and goes for the jugular (emphasis mine):
But is this something that is really a medical problem? Some sociologists argue that the inability to have children is actually a social condition that has been recast as a disease. Society places an expectation on individuals to reproduce and become parents and so childlessness is a status that does not readily fit within society’s cultural norms. Pathologising and categorising it as an 'illness’ is a way of managing this difference from the norm.
*record scratch*

I'm sorry, did you just say my disease is a social condition? Excuse me while I pick my jaw up off the floor.

Besides using 20-year old sociology research as the basis of this particular argument, it's just plain wrong. Despite the World Health Organization's classfication of infertility as disease in late 2009, Mr. Pemberton is of the opinion that infertility is merely a social condition and that parenting is a desire, not a right. He goes on (again, emphasis mine):
While childlessness is distressing, it is not associated with long-term disability, morbidity or mortality. It is not a disease. Rather, it is about people unable to have something that they want. This is not what the NHS is there to remedy.
Mr. Pemberton - Max, can I call you Max? Considering I conversed with you for nearly an hour on Twitter Monday? Right, so...

Max - You've missed the mark on so many levels. Let me break it down for you:

Infertility is NOT a social condition. In our little Twitter tete-a-tete, Max shared with me a study from 1992 by Becker & Nachtigall titled, Eager for medicalisation: the social production of infertility as a disease. If you click over for the PDF, it's a doozy of a study. So I took a read and was dismayed to learn that not only was their interview sample size only 43 couples, but the interviews were conducted in 1984. So the data was nearly a decade old by the time this study was released. Not only that, but seeing as how much infertility treatment and ART have advanced even in just the last decade alone, I can't imagine the gap in treatment advancement in practice between 1984 and 1992. And then there's the bigger issue of using a nearly 20-year old study with 30-year old data (and nearly verbatim from the abstract, I might add) to gauge a medical issue that has undergone radical advancement in the last 20 years.

Infertility IS a global public health crisis. In the United States, infertility is estimated to affect 1 in 8 couples. In the UK, that estimate stands at 1 in 7. In Canada? Try 1 in 6. Globally, in developing countries? The World Health Organization estimates that "1 in 4 ever-married women of reproductive age in most developing countries are infertile because of primary or secondary infertility." [Source.] Infertility is highly treatable, with as many as 80% of patients able to be successfully treated. And yet, in the United States, it's a highly treatable disease that is most routinely denied coverage. Why would you advocate for your country to strip away that same coverage? Socialized healthcare or otherwise, at least the NHS recognizes that infertility is a public health need and provides appropriate coverage.

Infertility IS a quality of life issue. While infertility in general may not be life-threatening, it is life-altering. Regardless of whether it's male or female factor, there exists a disfunction of basic human reproductive capacity. Considering that procreation is perhaps one of the strongest driving biological instincts aside from self-preservation, the inability to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term then disrupts a basic life function. A myriad of other medical issues can then result, most notably mental health consequences. To suddenly take away a benefit or to somehow say a disease is not worthy of treatment only further compounds the impact on an infertility patient's quality of life.

Sadly, many of the Letters in today's Telegraph agreed with Mr. Pemberton's opinion. The fact of the matter is, it's easy to throw the infertility patients under the bus. We're an easy target because so many people see parenting as a lifestyle choice.

But you know what Max?

I didn't choose this. I didn't choose to be unable to have my own children. I didn't choose this disease.

And neither did the 3.5 million people infertility affects in the UK.

UPDATE: This post was selected as a 2011 BlogHer Voice of the Year in the Perspectives category. I am deeply honored and humbled to have been recognized in a field of truly outstanding submissions and bloggers. Please take a moment to click the link and read the posts from the other honorees.

May 15, 2011

Senator Gillibrand introduces the Family Act of 2011: An Infertility Tax Credit Bill

Photo by Keiko Zoll, from Advocacy Day.
Exciting news folks: Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) has officially introduced the Family Act into the Senate (S. 965). The Family Act is a bill that creates a tax credit to reimburse individuals for out of pocket expenses for infertility treatment. While the text of the bill has not yet been released (it should be in the next day or two), it is anticipated that the tax credit will provide a lifetime cap of just over $13,000, renewable up to 5 years, and on a 50/50 cost share between taxpayer and government. The Family Act has been modeled after the very successul federal Adoption Tax Credit.

Here's where your help is vital: we need Senate co-sponsors like whoa. RESOLVE has set up a very easy form for you to contact your Senators right at their website. Send an email to your Senators encouraging them to co-sponsor the Family Act here.

Additionally, if we really want to gain traction on Capitol Hill, we also need a House version of this the Family Act. Please consider contacting your Representatives encouraging them to originate the bill on the House side of Congress. Look up your representatives' contact information here. I've drafted a sample letter to your representatives here, so you can copy, paste, and fill in your appropriate information and send it off to your legislators with ease.

I've already reached out to my Congressman, Representative John Tierney. I sent him a follow up email from Advocacy Day today and then posted a comment asking for his support on his Facebook page - he actually responded to my comment, having read my email! Feel free to get creative and check to see if your Senators and Congressfolk are using social media. I would email them first, then follow up on their Facebook pages and Twitter accounts - it can't hurt!

For more information:
  1. Here's a general overview of the Family Act.
  2. Here's a detailed FAQ about the Family Act. 
  3. The Family Act has been endorsed by the American Society of Reproductive Medicine.
  4. Make sure to Like EMD Serono's Family Act page on Facebook.
  5. And don't forget to write your Senators!

May 11, 2011

Two Videos from Infertility Advocacy Day

Just a quick post to share two videos from Advocacy Day. The first is a short interview with Risa Levine, our keynote speaker and RESOLVE Board of Directors member, and her thoughts on how Advocacy Day went this year.

The second is Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz's inspiring address to the volunteers before we headed out to our appointments. The first video is just over 2 minutes long, the second is about 11 minutes long. Something short or something more, depending on the time you have to view them. Please also feel free to share on your own blogs; you can snag the embed code right from the videos below. Enjoy!

May 10, 2011

How You Can Help the Atlanta Walk of Hope This Weekend

This Saturday, May 14, RESOLVE is hosting a Walk of Hope in Atlanta, Georgia. So often we say to ourselves, "Where's our walk?" Well... here it is! In addition to being a great fundraiser for the folks at RESOLVE, the Walk of Hope provides a chance to very publicly raise awareness for an otherwise very private disease. It's exactly the kind of event the infertility community needs. And if you're feeling brave enough, Kim over at The Ladies in Waiting Book Club has come up with a very creative way for you to participate without having to even go to Atlanta.

Kim and her team will be walking on Saturday in Atlanta, and they want to walk for you too:

May we walk for you?

My team and I would like to collect names from you (first, or last, or even just your screen name - doesn't matter to us!). On the day of the Walk, we'll take this list of names and write them on our t-shirts before the walk begins. We'd love to represent you along with our own families of two, no matter where you are on your journey. We hope to have our t-shirts completely covered in the names of the many infertile families we wish to represent.
To particpate, simply leave your name (however you wish it to be listed) in a comment to Kim's post about their Walk of Hope project here. Once you've added your name - and I hope you will! - why not consider posting about it on Facebook or Twitter? Here's a sample tweet:

@liwbookclub will walk for me & my #infertility at ATL #WalkofHope. I added my name; will you add yours?

You can also help out Kim and her team out by making a donation; see their Ladies in Waiting Team Page for more details. They're only 30% away from their goal of raising $750. It would be amazing if Kim and the Ladies in Waiting Team could have their shirts filled with names, to represent the millions of us living with infertility.

In fact, I'll make this pledge:

If 100 names are added in the comments on Kim's post between now (10am on Wednesday, 5/10) and 10pm Friday night, 5/13: I will donate $50 to the Ladies in Waiting Team for the Walk of Hope. If they reach 500 names or more total, I will donate $100.

If there's anyone willing to match this pledge, let me know in the comments. Be sure to post on your blog, Facebook, and Twitter (hell, you can even just swipe this whole post, I have no shame) to advertise if you'll join me in this pledge.

So, have you left your name for The Ladies in Waiting Walk of Hope Team yet?

May 9, 2011

RESOLVE Advocacy Day 2011 in Washington DC Recap

RESOLVE volunteers in front of the Capitol Building.
From left: Lee, Kara, Theresa, and me.
I never thought advocating for infertility awareness could be so empowering, but RESOLVE's Advocacy Day was just incredible. I advocate all the time on this blog; I write letters to my legislators all the time. But to actually walk around Independence and Constitution Avenues in the heart of Washington DC, to walk into Senator John Kerry's and Senator Scott Brown's offices - I've never felt so humbled or proud to be an American. I've never felt so honored or privileged to take advantage of my rights as a voting citizen in this country. And I've never been prouder of the infertility community.

The day started with an opening training meeting where close to 100 volunteers representing 18 states gathered. I was thrilled to see folks from Night of Hope again, including Lee Rubin Collins and Risa Levine, winners of the Hope Award for Advocacy. Lee was in the Massachusetts delegation with me and two other volunteers, Theresa and Kara. Barb Collura, the Executive Director of RESOLVE, opened the day with introductory remarks. I was totally not expecting for her to recognize me for the whole PETA counter-campaign, but I won't lie: it felt good to stand up and be recognized for that. Then Risa came out to deliver our keynote address... it was simply beautiful, powerful, and so inspiring. Risa has kindly sent me a copy of her remarks and allowed me to republish them online, so here is just a brief excerpt:

Wherever you are in this process, I know how hard it is for you to be here. How hard it is for you to identify with this disease that has stripped you of your identity. How hard it is to say "I am infertile".

I want you to think about all of the diseases you've experienced personally or through friends and family. I want you to think about how you or others have been affected by those diseases but how your infertility has redefined how you see yourself and how you relate to every one else in the whole universe. How unfair the unwarranted shame and loneliness has been. I want you to think about your own goals and dreams and self definition and for some of you, the retirement village in Florida that you will never join because you can't compete in the grandchildren wars. I want you to think about all of the times you bought Girl Scout cookies to support your friends' children and all of the times you heard that children are our nation's future. And I want you to believe that YOUR right to have YOUR disease treated so that YOU can have children whose cookies can be bought or whose health care should be provided for are just as important as everyone else's. And then, I want you to walk into Congressional offices today with the confidence that you are justified, no, righteously compelled and duty bound to demand that the treatment and cure of infertility be a priority in our national agenda of providing health care to the people of this country.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.
We went back over our key advocacy issues for each congressional visit: 1) infertility is a disease; 2) pushing for co-sponsorship of an Infertility Tax Credit Bill; and 3) to have legislators call the CDC to demand to know why work stopped on the National Action Plan for infertility. Barb announced that Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) has agreed to be an original sponsor for the Senate version of the Infertility Tax Credit bill. (A bill number and name is still forthcoming.) And then our group was treated to a special guest appearance from Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL), who gave a rousing 15 minute speech on the importance of the advocacy work we were doing, and to take our legislators to task to hear our concerns. (I'll post a video of her speech this week.)

And then... we were off to our Senate appointments. Our delegation from Massachusetts was followed around by RESOLVE's official event photographer. I felt like such an Infertility Rockstar!

Sen. Kerry's swanky Senate office.
We headed to Senator Kerry's office where we waited to meet with his Health Legislative Aid (or, Health LA in DC staffer lingo). After a short wait, we were ushered into the large conference room in Senator Kerry's office. I gave the rundown to the Health LA about infertility as a disease: stats, figures, and a brief overview of my personal situation. Lee then talked about the Infertility Tax Credit and the inquiry to the CDC. While the Health LA couldn't commit to specifics without running things by her boss, she seemed receptive to both the legislation and getting Kerry's office to call the CDC. And in the blink of an eye, we were shaking hands and exchanging business cards and then off to our next appointment.

We arrived at Senator Brown's office with just minutes to spare, after getting to his office in the Rayburn Building only to find out he had moved to the Dirken Building. We sat down with Brown's Health LA who was surprisingly receptive (despite Brown's track record with wanting to pare down the Massachusetts healthcare mandates- including infertility- back in 2009). She asked great questions and Lee was able to talk about how the Infertility Tax Credit would be a huge relief to military families, as TriCare (the military health plan) only provides discounted infertility treatment coverage at only four centers in the entire country. And then, as Theresa was explaining the part about the CDC...

Remember, Scott Brown: babies grow up to be future voters!
When in walks Senator Scott Brown himself. I literally could only mumble out "It's an honor to meet you" as I shook his hand and I probably could have caught flies in my mouth it was handing so wide open. "How about a picture?" he suggested, and we lined up and Scott Brown put his arm around my shoulder. Just as quick as he popped in he was out and I felt like was a starstruck teen giddy at meeting her dreamboat idol. Let me be clear: he's hardly my dreamboat idol, but he's still good looking whether I agree with his politics or not and he's still basically a political celebrity. Thank goodness our group was followed by RESOLVE's professional photographer, who snapped up a ton of pics of our group with Scott Brown.

The afternoon was spent meeting with our House representatives. Our group had scheduled appointments with Rep. Ed Markey, Rep. Barney Frank, and Rep. Nikki Tsongas. Each appointment went very well: each office was committed to calling the CDC and wanted us to send them the Infertility Tax Credit bill language asap for review. I had registered late so I didn't have a scheduled appointment with my Represenative, Rep. John Tierney, but our group agreed to swing by his office to drop off some materials for his Health LA. When we did, I was thrilled when the Health LA agreed to an impromptu meeting. I stepped up to the plate and delivered our whole Advocacy Day schpiel by myself (we had been trading off each of the three issues at each appointment). And then the icing on the cake: Rep. Tierney popped in at the end of our meeting and we got to grab a photo with him.

And suddenly, it was 3pm, all of our appointments were done, and it was time to decompress and grab some snacks at the end of the day debriefing and reception. As the delegates from other states returned, we swapped stories of the day. Alabama and New Jersey seemed to have the best success stories of support from their legislators; the lone delegate from Texas had a tougher time with the day for a variety of reasons: Texas is a huge state for just one volunteer to cover and her legislators aren't exactly supportive of mandated coverage. It made advocating for her cause pretty challenging. All the same: to blogger Hold My Hope, I'm so proud of you for taking on that challenge. Thank you for representing one of the biggest states in the Union by yourself.

Before I knew it, I was hitching a ride to the airport, on a plane and back home by midnight. I was exhausted- physically, mentally, emotionally - but I didn't regret a single second of the day.

When so much is taken away from us as infertility patients – without our choice – going to Capitol Hill gave me a sense of power and purpose in my infertility journey. I have often taken for granted my rights as an American citizen and taking part in Advocacy Day is perhaps one of the truest expressions of what it means to be an American. I had a voice. I was heard. And now, I commit to the work that needs to be done to ensure that my 7.3 million brothers and sisters struggling with infertility are heard too.

I really do believe Risa's words, that this was the most important Advocacy Day we have ever had. I am grateful and thankful to have been a part of the experience. Now, the real work begins: following up with my legislators and building public support for a forthcoming Infertility Tax Credit Bill.

I'm already marking my calendar for next year's Advocacy Day. You better believe I'll be there next year, and the next, and every year after - until we no longer need to advocate for infertility. I truly believe that with the advocacy work we did last week, I hope that's someday soon.

Me & RESOLVE Board Member Lee Rubin Collins.

May 4, 2011

Gearing Up for Advocacy Day

I've got the shoes - slip-on heels that are uber-comfy. And there's a backup pair of flip flops in my shoulder bag just in case. That's been the #1 piece of advice I've gotten from all of the other bloggers I've asked who have participated in Advocacy Day: make sure you have comfortable shoes.

I'm so. freaking. excited. for tomorrow. After work today, I hop onto a flight down to DC amd then starting bright and early at 7:30am tomorrow, Advocacy Day begins with on-site registration and breakfast. We train from 8am to about 10am, and then it's off to the Senate Office Building. I was thrilled to read on Friday's Advocacy Day update email that Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) will speak to our group at 9am before we head out! Rep. Schultz was one of the 20 co-sponsors of the Family Building Act of 2009 and is a vocal supporter of the infertility community. She spoke with members of RESOLVE in support of our community at a Congressional briefing on infertility last April. I am ver yexcited to hear her speak.

I'm nervous about tomorrow.

The other folks I've talked to have all assurred me there's really no reason to be nervous. Larry said it best to me last night, "What's the worst that could happen? They say to you, 'Thanks for sharing your story with me?'" He raises a very salient argument there. But I can't help it; I'm still nervous. Maybe it's more nervous excitement. I know I'll be in the company of over 100 people representing 18 states who will be doing the exact same thing: meeting with legislators and/or their staffers, advocating for infertility awareness and some key action items. And it's not like we'll be unprepared: we have plenty of materials we've been given over the last few weeks, there are resources online, and we'll be getting that last-minute training rally first thing tomorrow morning.

Still... I'm nervous :)

I'll also be really candid here: this whole OBL thing? Makes me nervous about retaliation. As much as I think it's important to release the photos eventually, I'm just praying the White House doesn't decide to drop those today or tomorrow. Like, seriously folks? Can you just wait until the weekend for that? Please? Thanks. It's been a few years since I lived in the DC area, but even when we still had the colored terror threat system, I know how the region gets in times of increased security. I had to put this (slightly irrational) fear out there: name it, own it, and realize that there's not really a whole helluva lot I can do about it.

Tomorrow I'll be speaking with folks on Capitol Hill about three key issues:
  1. Infertility is a disease. I know it seems like such a no-brainer to all of us. Yet, even though WHO and ASRM define infertility as a disease, we haven't gotten that yet from the CDC. More on that further below.
  2. Getting support for a possible Family Tax Credit Bill. Similar to the Adoption Tax Credit, a bill has been drafted (but not proposed officially) that would offer infertility patients a credit of their infertility-related out-of-pocket expenses. It would certainly supplement folks like me who live in a mandated state, but would be a tremendous help to the 35 other states with no infertility mandate. As I will be meeting with Senator Kerry's staff, you better believe I will close the deal on asking him to originate the bill rather that just co-sponsoring, as he's on both the Senate Finance Committee and its Healthcare subcommittee.
  3. Asking our legislators to follow-up with the CDC to inquire about the status of last year's National Action Plan for Infertility. This was a huge step forward for our community: the CDC last year committed to researching and funding a National Action Plan for "an emerging public health priority." (That's how the CDC refers infertility - not as a disease. You can see why issue #1 is important to discuss with legislators.) However, all work has stopped on the Action Plan. We want to get our legislators to commit to pushing the CDC to move forward with their work or to at the very least, find out why work has stopped.
Throw in the mix some highlights of our journey- like the fact that despite the fact that I live in a state that leads the nation in mandated coverage, we're still looking at $15-20K out of pocket - my effervescent charm, and hopefully, a little luck - it looks like it's going to be one amazing day.

I also want to give a very public shout out to both Melissa from Stirrup Queens and Julie from A Little Pregnant: when I asked each of them, they were both very kind to give me some fantastic advice about what to expect tomorrow. They've both really taken a lot of the edge off of the nervousness.

I'll be updating throughout the day on Twitter, so if you're not already following me @miriamshope, that will be the place to read about all of my adventures on Capitol Hill tomorrow. I will of course have a huge update post on Friday with pictures, reflections, and maybe a little video. We'll see how much I can cram in tomorrow and how fast I can edit any footage.

So with that folks, I'm off. If you're going to DC, look for the gal in the dark teal blue shirt and dark grey pants; I'll be wearing a yellow RESOLVE bracelet too. Feel free to come over and say hi - I love to meet folks IRL. For those on the blogosphere, read about my exploits on Twitter tomorrow. And to all: come back Friday and read the recap.

Oh, and wish me luck :)

May 2, 2011

Nat'l Infertility Awareness Week 2011 Highlight Reel

It's hard to believe that National Infertility Awareness Week is already over. What an incredible week it was! I got to meet so many new people and be exposed to so many more blogs and resources out there... it was really just a phenomenal experience. I can't believe how much more involved I was this year and I have to say, it felt great to make those connections to and to offer that kind of support to others.

After such a whirlwind week, I wanted to share some of those moments, blog posts, and other goodies around the web that stood out for me this week. I present to you my personal Highlight Reel for NIAW 2011:

The Blogosphere
Other Media

...Now what?
Just because National Infertility Awareness Week is over, it doesn't mean the work is done. The next big thing is Advocacy Day this Thursday. Believe it or not, there is still time to sign up. There are over 100 participants and at least 18 states represented... and there's room for more! Find out how you can participate in Advocacy Day either in DC or in your home state. I'll be going to DC for my very first Advocacy Day; I'm so excited! If you're going, leave me a comment or shoot me an email.

What other awesome things did you come across on the web this week? Share your resources and great NIAW finds in the comments!

April 28, 2011

RESOLVE's Advocacy Day: A Real Woman's Story

RESOLVE's Advocacy Day is one week from today on Thursday, May 5th and there's still time to sign up and participate. It might seem intimidating and overwhelming to head to our nation's capitol to speak to legislators about our needs as a community, but it can be a powerful, incredible experience for those who participate. I'll be heading down to D.C. Wednesday night to join RESOLVE in advocating on the Hill for infertility awareness a week from today. I'm a newbie to Advocacy Day too, so I wanted to share one woman's story to show you that yes, someone just like you or me can participate in Advocacy Day, with no prior experience with legislators at all.

Folks, meet Susan. You may know her as Donor Diva:

She's the proud mama to a darling boy, a fellow POF-er, and a blogger just like you and me who took the leap and participated in RESOLVE's Advocacy Day in 2009. I asked Susan to talk about her experience with RESOLVE and to tell us what the day was like.

Why did you decide to participate in Advocacy Day? 
My friend and I were both in the middle of our 2ww after our DE cycles. She suggested that we go down to DC for advocacy as a distraction. I live in Maryland so it was easy to get there.

How were you feeling about the day leading up to it? 
I was most nervous about talking with the Congressman and Senators. I was most excited about helping the infertility community. There are so many people in the infertility community that helped me I wanted to help also. RESOLVE provides you with support beforehand. They did a conference call, had papers for you to read through, and did training the morning before meetings. As long as you do your prep you will be ready to go.

Tell us what the Advocacy Day itself was like.  
My friends and I Metro-ed down to DC (we live in MD). When we arrived, we were greeted by many smiling faces. The first part of the morning was spent prepping us for our meetings and also hearing stories about peoples' journeys through infertility.

For me, the meetings were in a great progression. It started off with a big group and my last meeting was just me and one other person. It gave me a chance to warm up and gradually feel more confident. It was very exhilarating to actually speak to the Aides and have them understand our position.

It was hard for me to stay calm since this was the first time for me to do something like this. What helped was knowing that I wasn't the only one meeting with them. Also, you aren't meeting with the actually congressman/women or senator you are meeting with their aid. Also, that we were doing this for a great cause. My proudest moment was talking with other participants of advocacy day.

At the end of the day, how did you feel? 

Any advice you would give to folks going to DC for the first time this year? 
Prepare yourself and read EVERYTHING that RESOLVE provides you with. This way you will be confident in all of you meetings. If you are passionate about infertility then you should go. There were several states not represented when I went and the only way we are going to make change is by getting as many people as possible involved.

Thanks Susan, for sharing your story. I hope your positive experience will inspire others to follow in your footsteps and continue the grassroots advocacy work for the infertility community on Capitol Hill. I know it's certainly made me very excited to take part a week from today!

Worried about making it down to DC? No problem! RESOLVE can prepare you to talk with your local legislators in your own home districts. I wanted to give a special shout-out to Whitney, who had an amazing experience this week meeting with legislators in her home state. Not only did she meet with her legislators, give them plenty of facts, but she actually got their support to co-sponsor a forthcoming infertility tax credit bill. Another real person, another blogger just like you and me - and she's advocated in a huge way for our community.

It is especially critical for constituents from the following states to attend, as you would meet with key members of Congress who could help us in getting the infertility tax credit bill to succeed:

  • California
  • Delaware
  • Illinois
  • Maine
  • Minnesota
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania
  • Washington

Have you participated in Advocacy Day before? Sound off in the comments and share your experience with us!

If you still have questions about the day and how you can participate, what to expect - even what to wear - check out the comprehensive Advocacy Day FAQ online.

Will you join me in DC this year for Advocacy Day? 

April 19, 2011

Surrogacy Lawyer Radio Show Update: MP3 Available Online

If you missed me on last week's The Surrogacy Laywer Radio Program with Evelina Sterling, you can download the show as an mp3 to listen to at your leisure!

Click here to download Premature Ovarian Failure and the NIAW/PETA Debate with Evelina Weidman Sterling and Keiko Zoll.

As the title mentions, Evelina and I talked about all things POF; Evelina spoke to the more clinical aspects of the disease and I shared my personal experiences as a patient. Evelina also shared how it's now referred to as Primary Ovarian Insuffiency. And of course, we saved a few minutes at the end to chat with Theresa about the whole PETA ordeal.

If you have 54 minutes right now, you can listen below:

April 12, 2011

What I Learned from PETA & Why This Mattered

What a week folks, what a week.

It's official: all references to NIAW have been removed from the PETA website, including on that directing Features page that would take you to the contest page itself. Again: thanks, PETA - much appreciated.

I've had some time now to finally get some sleep, step back from Twitter for more than 20 minutes at a time, and really reflect on everything that's happened. Some people supported our efforts wholeheartedly (63 of you joined me in openly condemning PETA through blog posts). Some people didn't think that, of all the battles we face as a community, this was the battle to pick. Some folks remained silent by choice- for a variety of reasons, and many reasons I can respect and support. And some probably still don't even know anything happened at all last week. In the grand scheme of the looming government shutdown, discord in Libya, and mounting concerns at the Fukushima reactor in Sendai, Japan - I can see how some riled-up infertile folks yelling at PETA might seem like small potatoes in comparison.

As an infertile woman, especially the days where I've got baby on the brain pretty bad, I have to remind myself to keep my infertility in check, or rather, to keep my perspective in check. There are bigger things in the world than whether or not I want or am able to have children. I get that, but sometimes I don't always remember this when I all can think of is "When's it going to be our turn already?" So I challenge myself to keep it all in context.

So, after all of this, allow me to share What I've Learned and Why This Mattered.

What I Learned from Standing Up to PETA:

Take the high road when you're trying to argue a point.
It is so tempting and quite easy to resort to name-calling. Like I said, PETA is an Internet Troll with whom to be reckoned. It's so easy to fall into the trap of hurling insults and low-blow moves; after all, was not their campaign an insult and low-blow to us in the first place? To quote the ever famous Calvin, of Calvin & Hobbes: "Nothing helps a bad mood like spreading it around." It feels good to engage in some verbal mud-slinging.

I could have easily written a letter that said, "Fuck you, PETA!" That's certainly how I felt. Instead, I took the time to process through my gut emotional response to deliver a clear and (relatively) concise argument: "Dear PETA: here's why your campaign is not cool and here's what we'd like you to do about it." When all you're doing is throwing mud around, you still just end up covered in shit. And I don't know about you, but I hate doing laundry. I also want to add: be gracious. PETA didn't have to do anything at all, but they did, so it's only right (and polite) to say thank you.

Don't give up.
I'm a figher by nature. I fight for and within this community because others can't or won't for whatever reasons. I'm able to do so because I am infinitely lucky to have the support that I do; I know many others in my shoes who don't have the kind of support systems Larry and I have. I also know some people are just tired of fighting, and I don't blame them. I suppose it's just a personality trait for for me: I'm a passionate person. I give myself fully to the things and people about which I am passionate. Some people (my husband, my parents) might say I'm a woman who simply doesn't take "No" for an answer.

When emails didn't seem to be making an impact, I turned to the blogging community. When additional emails and posts from folks in the community didn't work, I took to Twitter. When Twitter didn't work, I started a petition. When the petition gained momentum, I approached the media. I turned to my colleagues in this field for help in not only lending their support, but spreading the word. One drop in the lake became a ripple effect in the community... and it worked.

Why It Mattered:

Every battle in this community is important, whether it's telling off the media, telling off PETA, or telling off our legislators. But it's not just about raising our voices in anger - it's about raising our voices in informed civil discourse. We don't have to shout to get our point across; we can speak clearly, intelligibly, and respectfully. When we organize ourselves and our voices into a coherent, passionate message, the effect is profound.

As a community, we were heard.
We were heard when so often we are not: when we disclose to others we're seeking IVF and we get the instant response comparing us to Octomom; when infertility is still up in the air as an essential benefit; when the media asks Giuliana Rancic if she's considered adoption immediately after her miscarriage; when people ask prospective adoptive parents if they're worried about whether or not they'll feel like their "real" chidlren; when the voice of the childfree, the of color, and the LGBT are lost in the greater conversation about infertility but whose experiences are just as valid and relative to ours. It was pretty hard to ignore us because we came out in such force.

As a community, we needed this.
In a patient community where we're already beaten down from tests, insenstive comments, BFN's, fall-throughs: this was a huge confidence booster. So often we don't feel like we have any control of our lives or our bodies, and yet here is an example of making a concious decision to stand up and fight back, to take control over how an organization chooses to exploit our community: and we did it. We regained a little bit of that sense of control that we lost. We gained back some of the confidence that may have been taken away from us. It felt good. And feeling good is something we always need as a community.

As a community, this inspired us to act.
I am still amazed at how many people chose to participate in some way, from as simple as sharing links on Facebook to writing letters of their own. To every person who signed the petition, I hope you'll write your legislators. For every person who posted a blog, I hope you'll participate in the Bust a Myth Bloggers Unite Project for National Infertility Awareness Week.

I hope this experience gave everyone who participated the confidence to turn your passion into action. I hope this inspired EVERYONE to really, really consider participating in RESOLVE's Advocacy Day either in DC or in your local districts on May 5th.

All of this mattered because it has paved the way for us to do even greater things as and for this community. I'm of the opinion we owe it to each other, because at the end of the day, we're all fighing for the same thing, right?

It matters because if we put good out there, hopefully we'll get a little bit of that good back. And folks: it is good work that we're all doing. Let's keep it up.

Don't forget: I'm appearing on The Surrogacy Lawyer Radio Show this Thursday, April 14th, with Evelina Sterling from Rachel's Well. Tune in here online at 2PM EST (11AM PST) to hear us talk about premature ovarian failure, menstrual health, and more updates about PETA.

April 11, 2011

Reflective thoughts on PETA forthcoming - promise!

Hey folks - I've been meaning to post a nice reflective piece on this whole experience. It has been a whirlwind of a week and weekend, but I'm literally running on empty right now between work and some after work commitments (in addition to getting my house cleaned/organized for visitors in a couple of weeks). My schedule, as it always does in April, has blown up.

I'm hoping to have something up by tomorrow night at the latest, but wanted to share a couple of quick, cool things:

1. The NIAW language that still remained on PETA's directing Features page has been removed as of 12pm EST today. Victory complete!

2. We got media coverage in Canada... under "Weird News." Lol, I'll take it.

3. We got an amazing and inspiring summary of events from Rachel Gurevich from How Blogging, Online Petitions, Phone Calls, and Email Writing Really Can Make a Difference

4. I'll be appearing as a guest with Evelina W. Sterling from Rachel's Well on Theresa Erickson's The Surrogacy Lawyer Radio Program THIS THURSDAY at 11AM PST/2PM EST. Tune in online here!

So stay tuned for (what will hopefully be my last) blog post about PETA and this whole experience tonight or tomorrow.

And now, I'll leave you with another picture of my cats, because they are quite frankly - adorbs.

That's right, our cats hold paws. Behold the cute.

April 10, 2011

PETA Update #5: An Email from PETA President Ingrid Newkirk

Knock me over with a feather this morning when I actually got an email from Ms. Ingrid Newkirk herself:

FROM: "Ingrid Newkirk" []
TO: Me
DATE: Sun, Apr 10, 2011 at 7:48 AM
SUBJECT: Thank You.

Thanks, we will look at that right away.

Also, thank you very much for your adoption of the beautiful cats and for suggesting people help their local shelters. We are not in favor of “no kill” terminology as it leaves the dirty work to the open admission shelters. You might enjoy our other website, We operate three full time spay/neuter clinics for indigent people’s animals, and others who will not or cannot afford full price. It not only does spays/neuters, but helps with fleas, ear cleanings, even surgeries for animals who spend their entire lives chained to a dirt patch or living under a trailer, etc. You may wish to look at and pass on the links of some of the animals who are taken in, that “no kill” shelters will usually not touch as they are not adoptable. Someone has to touch them. We get a lot of criticism for being so “impure” as to do so rather than leave the dirty work to others. Some of the pics are tough to look at...

[Ms. Newkirk included a list of links that I've truncated here for space.]

 . . .

I'll definitely be following up this week to make sure the link/reference has been removed from their Features directing page. EDIT: As of 12PM EST Monday, April 11th, the language has been removed. I can now consider this a complete victory.

We have been heard indeed, from the highest level of PETA.

I'm so incredibly humbled by and proud of this community right now.

More thoughts tomorrow.

A 2nd Open Letter to PETA: Thank You

TO: "Ingrid Newkirk" []
CC: "Carrie Snider" [], "HollyAnne Dame" [], "Tracy Reiman" [], "Dan Mathews" [], "Lisa Lange" []
SUBJECT: A 2nd Open Letter to PETA re: Win a Vasectomy - Thank You
DATE: Sun, Apr 10, 2011 at 2:26 AM

Ingrid E. Newkirk, President
CC: Carrie Snider, Special Projects Coordinator; HollyAnn Dame, Membership Correspondent; Tracy Reiman, Executive Vice President; Dan Mathews, Senior Vice President of Campaigns; Lisa Lange, Senior Vice President of Communications
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
501 Front St.
Norfolk, VA 23510

Dear Ms. Newkirk,

It was recently brought to my attention that PETA has removed all links to National Infertility Awareness Week for your “Win a Vasectomy” campaign. On behalf of the 7.3 million people who cope with the disease of infertility every day:

Thank you.

Thank you for listening to our voices, our emails, our blog posts, our tweets, our website comments, our media coverage, our phone calls and messages, and our petition with 2,200+ signatures. Thank you for listening to your members and supporters who disagreed with this campaign’s tactics. Thank you for listening and hearing the voice of the infertility community. Believe me when I say we are deeply grateful for your decision to retract the association between these two campaigns.

Thank you for recognizing and acknowledging that infertility is not a joke, not a patient community who can be used to promote your organization’s aims at our expense.

I have asked my readers and followers to consider making a contribution to their local animal shelter as a way to say thank you to your organization in the wake of your decision to remove the link to NIAW. I personally will be making a contribution to the Northeast Animal Shelter in honor of this occasion, a no-kill shelter in my community that brought us our two lovely cats Saba and Toro (see picture below).

I do have one final, minute request of a technical note. While the landing page for the “Win a Vasectomy” campaign has removed all mention of NIAW, it appears the directing page under the Features tab still includes the “in honor of” language ( As someone who has worked with website management before, it appears to be a simple oversight error that this language was listed on this separate page. We would appreciate the immediate removal/updating of this language from the Features page as well if PETA would like to be consistent in honoring its commitment not to further offend our patient community.

Again, I would like to personally thank you, and thank you on behalf of the infertility community for removing the link to your campaign and NIAW.

~Keiko Zoll
(and Saba & Toro)

Thanks, PETA.

April 9, 2011

PETA Update #4: Victory!

We did it, folks!

PETA has removed all references to National Infertility Awareness Week from their "Win a Vasectomy" campaign. I've closed the petition and we've come in at just over 2,200 signatures in just 3 days. This is an incredible victory for the infertility community.

Check out my vlog below for more information, and stay tuned for my open letter to PETA thanking them for hearing our voice and responding to our concerns.

Feel free to spread the good news!

April 7, 2011

PETA Update #3: Close, But No Cigar

It's been a crazy 48 hours. Let's recap:

First I sent PETA my open letter in response to their "Win a Vasectomy" campaign. Then PETA wrote back... and told me to "just adopt." So I wrote them back again (does this officially make us pen pals?) and they wrote me back again with a non-apology apology.

Then PETA issues a broader non-apology apology on their Facebook page that said, in a nutshell: "We're sorry you got so upset."

So then I posted a petition online at, urging signers to Tell PETA: Infertility Is Not a Joke. And as of 9PM EST today, 1700+ people think that PETA should formally apologize and immediately remove any link between their campaign and National Infertility Awareness Week.

I think this makes me and PETA BFFs now.

Other important things that have happened in the last 48 hours:

If this wasn't already obvious, the momentum on this campaign has picked up like wildfire. So after all this, how does PETA respond?

By changing "in honor of" NIAW to "during" NIAW.

Click to embiggen.

*golf clap*

Don't be fooled, readers. This isn't the victory we've been after just quite.

What would appear to be a real response is actually just a trollish attempt to appease the masses and probably keep their phones from ringing off the hook.

I've got to hand it to PETA: they rank among the likes of Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church when it comes to walking the line between literal and libel. In sum, I'm honestly impressed at not only how smug PETA is when it comes to engaging with their opposition, but at just how suave their trolling really is. In the battle of David vs. the Goliath, this little blogger is head to head with the pros.

Here's the thing about trolls. They love the attention and the vitriol spewed in the wake of their trolling. They feed on making you angry. That's why apart from this post, I've engaged in nothing but eloquent, well-researched, well-composed dialogue on my end. PETA, for the most part, has done the same, with the exception of telling me that "infertility is justified because the world is overpopulated" and that "as an infertile woman, I should just adopt." In all of my exchanges, I haven't resorted to profanity or name-calling. Believe me: I've been tempted.

But with this little tweak to PETA's campaign website, I'm calling out PETA for what they are: trolls. 

Trolling: an artist's rendition.
I'm not stupid and I know this one campaign has not happened in a vacuum. "Win a Vasectomy" in honor of/during NIAW is not a new tactic; this is merely standard M.O. for these folks. I'm well aware of some of their other controversial campaigns, such as comparing the consumption of meat to the Holocaust. And there's other less overt ways PETA exploits people at the expense of animals: PETA has no problem objectifying women in their ad campaigns.

What's the first rule of the internet? Don't feed the trolls. Here's the thing - I'm confident that PETA went after the infertility community because we're largely silenced; I honestly don't think PETA was expecting a response this vocal. Sometimes you have to feed the trolls - but give them food they don't like, such as solid research and stats, a commitment to no longer contribute to them financially, and mature, well-spoken arguments. If you resort to swearing and name-calling, they've won. You basically have to treat PETA like a small child: speak slowly, clearly, and repeat yourself ad nauseum until they understand. 

By changing "in honor of" to "during" and by issuing apologies that apologize for our reactions and not their actions, PETA is essentially patting us on our heads and hoping we'll go on our merry ways. We can't give in; we have to be relentless. Keep calling and leaving messages. Keep emailing them. Keep sharing the petition with others. Keep tweeting and posting on Facebook. Keep contacting the media (so far only Canada, Ireland and New Zealand have picked up PETA's stunt, but not our response).

If you chip away at a tree long enough, it will eventually fall over. The ball is still in PETA's court to do the right thing, and until then, we need to remind them of that... every day, every hour, every minute.

EDIT: On the flipside, I'd like to recommend Mel's very thoughtful post about this whole fiasco over at Stirrup Queens. It's easy to get caught up in the anger and emotion, but she makes some fantastic points about why this whole thing still matters. It's a nice counterpoint that promotes and encourages thoughtful dialogue about all of this. Check out Why I'm Not Talking about PETA.