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PETI: People for the Ethical Treatment of Infertiles


a blog by JPalumbo, April 12, 2011

As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) is having a contest that offers a free vasectomy to a lucky winner to have their pet spayed or neutered during National Infertility Awareness Week.

When I first heard about this contest, I had just gotten home from my third in vitro fertilization (IVF) class. Every time I’m about to get an IVF, I’ve had to go to that clinic’s “teach class." I’ve gone enough times now that, I dare say, I could now run the class myself. I would make it a bit more entertaining though, employing shadow puppets and blow up dolls to not only lighten the mood, but make it more engaging.

National Infertility Awareness Week

While sitting in this class going over all the steps needed, what fertility medications would be best for me, how much IVF was going to cost, the difference between day three and day five embryo transfers, I couldn’t help but feel jealous of any woman who is able to remain ignorant of all these details. I can’t tell you how many of my fertile friends who have had children don’t know what “assisted hatching," “egg white cervical mucus” or “ICSI” is — and most all of them think “implantation” is land in Georgia.

National Infertility Awareness Week is meant to bring attention to infertility, which affects many men and women. It’s a week set aside to remind the community at large that we exist, and we need funding. It also reminds those coping with infertility that they truly aren’t alone.

National Infertility Awareness Week is a week of respect, support and attention that I wish we could have year round.

My Uterus Is Not a Punch Line

So, for PETA to basically capitalize on our predicament and use it to promote getting your dog’s balls cut off feels a little ... insulting. They have muscled in our territory not as a show of support, but for their own agenda. I envision one of their publicity people saying, “You know what would be cute? We could run the contest during National Infertility Week! Aren’t I clever?” To that person, I want to say: My uterus is neither a punch line nor a promotional tool for your cause. It may be “uterus” but it’s really “uter-me."

What’s next?

  • A “Win Two Tickets to the Ford's Theater on Lincoln's Birthday” Contest?
  • The “Free Dinner for One on Valentine’s Day” Contest?
  • “Have a Free Ham Sandwich for Hanukkah” Contest?
  • The “One Day White Sale during Black History Month” Contest?

To those who think that this is an over-reaction on my part, I want to point out that April is actually “Animal Cruelty Awareness Month”. (Animals get a month and we get a week, but whatever). My point is that I have no doubt that if anyone had an “In Honor of Animal Cruelty Month, Win a Free Fur Coat!” contest, PETA would be just as outraged, if not more.

To be clear, I appreciate their cause. This has nothing to do with what they stand for or even the point of the contest. What I’m annoyed at is the timing of the contest. They are using a week that was designed to share facts and bust myths and misconceptions about infertility as part of their campaign. I guess that’s why they are called “People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals” and not “People for the Ethical Treatment of People."

Perhaps if I were a puppy struggling with infertility, they’d pay attention to me in one fashion or another. (I would make sure to piss on Ingrid Newkirk’s leg.)

PETA's Slow Reaction Time

What also annoys me is, once the infertility community expressed how hurt they were by this contest, PETA’s reaction was basically, “Ooops. We never meant it that way, but, oh well! On with our contest!”

Although they did change "In Honor of Infertility Awareness Week" to "During Infertility Awareness Week” (insert *eye roll*), what they should do is immediately remove the link between their campaign and National Infertility Awareness Week.*** End of story. That would be true acknowledgment and respect.

Until then, I will make my feelings known through the appropriate channels and then quickly turn my attention to both my upcoming third IVF and to finding a way to honor my fellow infertile people during National Infertility Awareness Week.

I guess having a barbecue would be petty, right?

***Editor's Note: PETA has now removed all mention of National Infertility Awareness Week from their website.

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