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The ABC/Cablevision Standoff: What It Says About Infertility

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a blog by David Kreiner, M.D., F.A.C.O.G., March 9, 2010

It was quite shocking on Sunday when Disney pulled WABC Channel 7 from Cablevision. Three million viewers in the New York Metropolitan area were affected. My wife was distraught. Her favorite television shows -- Brothers and Sisters, Desperate Housewives, Lost -- were no longer viewable on our TV set. Not to mention the Superbowl of celebrity watching, the Oscars. Many were frustrated and depressed at the prospect of being denied the pleasure of watching the shows we have grown accustomed to expecting.

My wife and I never truly experienced infertility. We had a workup for recurrent miscarriages and it took us more than a year to conceive a healthy pregnancy in between our two boys and two girls. We were not denied the joy of building a family that we had learned to expect while growing up, observing our own, as well as our friends’ and neighbors’ families.

When a couple experiences infertility, they are denied the expected right to the pursuit of happiness by creating their own family. No one deserves to be infertile; the affected are innocent bystanders of a tragedy not of their own making. Someone afflicted with infertility might have just as randomly suffered some other disease or condition. The difference – unfortunately -- is that if you have any other condition or disease requiring medical treatment, odds are excellent your insurance will cover it. Most insurance providers don’t cover infertility, not because of ethical or religious reasons or even lack of sympathy, but instead because it costs them money.

The Cablevision/Disney battle was over a $40 million increase in payment to Disney. Senator John Kerry, the former presidential candidate, interceded to try to negotiate a settlement so that my wife and others would not be denied our TV shows.

Why can’t we get a similar hero to negotiate a settlement for coverage so that infertile couple can get the treatment they need so they can have families like the ones they see on TV and in Disney movies?

Why do politicians ignore the millions of infertile individuals and couples in this country (six million, according to the Centers for Disease Control) and deny them the right to have the family they grew up expecting as naturally as tuning into ABC and watching a favorite TV show?

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