Last week marked forty years since the first IVF baby, Louise Brown, was born. Forty years since one of the craziest advancements of modern science literally brought forth human life.
I was going to write a post last week about how grateful I am for being fortunate enough to have access to this incredible technology that is allowing us to become parents in just a few short weeks. However true, I’m not quite in the mood for blanket platitudes at the moment.
You see, I posted this CNN article, written by a fellow IVFer, about the forty year milestone. More specifically, the author poses the question that why, even after over 8 million IVF babies have been born since the first one forty years ago, is IVF still considered “experimental”? Why is insurance coverage in any way, shape or form still woefully lacking for those that need this procedure in order to have a biological child?
After seeing the article on my Facebook page, one of my close friends reposted the article to her page. And that’s where things got sticky.
I have been fortunate enough to be in a relatively insular environment when being open about my infertility and IVF experiences. I haven’t had anyone say terribly judgmental or insensitive things. But we all know the internet is a quick to judge place, where people are free to share their opinions as they see fit, without a thought as to how it might affect someone else.
I read the comments that were posted after my friend reposted the CNN article. They ran along the lines of:
IVF isn’t covered because the world is overpopulated.
It isn’t medically necessary.
IVF doesn’t fix medical issues, it just circumvents them.
If people really want to have children, they should just adopt.
Typically, I am a non-confrontational person by nature. I am a people pleaser and readily admit it; conversations on politics or religion make my heart race. I’m very much a “let’s all hold hands and sing Kumbaya” kind of person. This time, however, I could not sit back and be silent.
I can’t know for sure how much the commenters knew about infertility, or about all the reasons why a couple might need IVF in the first place. All I can do is share what I know, and do my best to educate when I can.
Things I wish everyone knew before placing judgement on the use of IVF in the family building process:
- No one wants to have to use IVF in their process to have a biological child.
- There are complex medical conditions that people are born with that do not allow them to have a biological child.
- IVF may be a medical circumvention rather than a “fix”. Using that argument leads down a very bumpy path, however. By that logic, we shouldn’t be expecting insurance to cover Viagra, a pacemaker, or even a prosthetic limb.
- Adoption and/or fostering is extremely expensive (often more so than IVF or other medical interventions) and can take many years until successful. It often leads to dead ends; many families work with a particular agency for years, only to find the agency has closed, or the country they are trying to adopt from no longer is allowing adoptions out of the country. It is no less a heartbreaking, resource draining, and mentally and emotionally exhausting process than IVF – if not more.
- Although some states and some employers offer insurance coverage for IVF, it is spotty at best. State mandates often only ensure that some coverage be offered somewhere in the state, and it is extremely rare for insurance companies to fully cover almost anything related to infertility beyond diagnostic testing.
To those of you who have supported us on this journey, THANK YOU. To those of you who are still in the process and are fighting for medical coverage for your disease – KEEP FIGHTING. And to those of you who wish to support us in this fight, start here: https://resolve.org/get-involved/