I am writing in response to your article posted yesterday on MSN.com, "Designing the $100,000 baby." On the tails of this, it is important to note that October 19-25, 2008 marks The National Infertility Awareness Week during which those who are affected will disseminate valuable information to their communities about infertility. This includes dispelling myths and sensationalized portrayals of the very treatments those who suffer from infertility must endure in order to bring a child home. In reading your recent article, I believe that you have done a huge disservice to this effort and to the infertility community as a whole. In fact, speaking as someone who suffers from infertility, I would go so far as to say that your effort at journalism on this piece was completely irresponsible.
Firstly, your portrayal of infertility treatments is incredibly limited, representing a minuscule percentage of cases. Given that we have so few spokespeople who have the visibility to make a real impact, this is the information the public is given. It is sensationalized, painting a picture of the misuse of medicine for the purposes of greediness and vanity. You fail to even mention the very real heartbreak that people who face years of loss and disappointment because of infertility must endure. In case you were unable to research it in its entirety, I can assure you that 99.999% of us did not choose this path. We were forced into it. Whether or not our child has blue eyes or goes to Yale is completely irrelevant. The real question is whether or not there will even be a child and if so, will he/she survive? IVF and PGD, the procedures you portrayed as very slippery ethical slopes, are the miracles of modern medicine that grant us this ability to answer that question. And in failing to paint a full portrait of infertility by not including any of its real cast members, you have just made this unwanted path that much rockier for all of us.
I am disappointed. Your article also managed to make light of one of the biggest life crises a person can face: living with infertility, the stress of which has been proven in research to equal that of patients with cancer. In likening donor egg selection to ‘online dating’, you have ignored the reality that by the time they reach that point, the woman making the selection has likely been through immense disappointment, including financial and emotional loss, and has recently had the door for a biological child slammed shut in her face. I’d hardly compare that with a perusal through match.com.
Infertility is not just a crisis in adding to one’s family, but it is also a daily social struggle. We are met with hurtful comments time and time again, the product of information such as that seen within your article. This needs to stop. This is the purpose of National Infertility Awareness Week, making your article strangely well timed. I invite you to read about the real stories behind infertility and moreover, I invite you to write about them. One of six couples in the U.S. experience some form of infertility, so that coverage of this epidemic would speak to millions rather than the small, elite group you chose to represent. I look forward to seeing more realistic portrayals of what we go through in the years to come and I'm hoping you can join us in this effort. Thank you for your time.
Disgruntled in SF
(actually, I put my real name, in case you're wondering!)
PS. This lady is actually a contributing author to Conceive magazine!