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Don't Ignore the Politics of Infertility
by Leigh Ann Woodruff, April 24, 2012
Wednesday, April 25, is a key event during National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW) — Advocacy Day. Don't ignore this day. This is the day to make your voice heard on the politics of infertility. It's your time to say to elected representatives: "Don't ignore infertility."
Maybe you're not political. Maybe you're not infertile. Maybe you're wondering why you should care about the politics of infertility at all.
Here's the reason. Look around at your next dinner party. Chances are, you or a couple seated at your table has experienced infertility. According to RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, one out of eight U.S. couples of childbearing age has been diagnosed with infertility.
The politics of infertility is the politics of many things: reproductive freedom, health care economics, health care access, and treatment and recognition of a disease. Infertility is experienced by men and women of every race, ethnicity and socio-economic level. Infertility is recognized by the medical community as a disease, and its effects can be devastating — physically, psychologically and financially.
The Focus for 2012
On Advocacy Day, infertility advocates are meeting with members of Congress to gain support for the Family Act of 2011, S 965 / HR 3522. The goal is to ensure that this legislation, which was introduced in the 112th Congress, passes in 2012. The bill to create a tax credit for the out-of-pocket costs associated with infertility medical treatment was introduced in May 2011 in the U.S. Senate by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) and in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressman John Lewis (GA).
The Family Act is modeled after the Adoption Tax Credit, which was adopted in 1997 and is actually set to expire on Dec. 31, 2012. Thus, the infertility community will also be advocating on the need to save the Adoption Tax Credit, too, legislation that has had wide bi-partisan support.
Barb Collura, Executive Director of RESOLVE, explains why Advocacy Day is important in this initiative. "We are making progress — we just learned that several more Representatives have agreed to co-sponsor the bill, and we know that Advocacy Day will have a big impact," she says. "Having legislators hear directly from their constituents is extremely important, as it makes it real for the legislator.
"We know this is a tough year — Congress is deadlocked on many issues, and soon everyone will be focused on the election," she continues. "But we also know that many legislators care about continuing the Adoption Tax Credit, which will expire in December, and we hope they also agree that passing the Family Act makes good sense for America. By making sure we educate as many legislators as possible, we are positioning the Family Act and the Adoption Tax Credit as important pro-family bills that help the middle class in a time when we all could use a break. "
The RESOLVE community, including volunteers, patients, physicians, and friends and family who care about people with infertility, will share their personal experiences and educate elected officials about infertility and the needs of the people who are diagnosed.
“With infertility patients feeling ignored and their family-building rights threatened across the country, we need to raise our collective voice and ensure our lawmakers do something positive for this community,” Collura says. “Advocacy Day will empower our grassroots supporters to share their story and seek support from their elected officials.”
How You Can Help
You do not have to go to Washington, D.C., to get involved in the politics of infertility. RESOLVE has identified several key states needed for passage of The Family Act, including Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania and Tennessee, but everyone's voice is needed in every state to advocate with lawmakers. The key messages, according to RESOLVE, are:
- Infertility is a disease.
- Passage of The Family Act for an infertility treatment tax credit
- Continuation of the Adoption Tax Credit
Call or write your state's U.S. Senators or Representatives and get involved. The politics of infertility is the politics of everyone who wants to strengthen families and access to the health care and other means to build them.
For more information about RESOLVE and National Infertility Awareness Week, visit:
http://www.resolve.org/infertility101 (Basic understanding of the disease of infertility)
http://www.resolve.org/national-infertility-awareness-week/about.html (About NIAW)