This reality has shaped and defined our married and family life on many levels: Relationally, financially, physically, emotionally, spiritually, etc. and etc. It is a journey like no other, a true roller coaster ride.
I could (and will someday) write many words regarding our experience with infertility and all the lessons and truths embedded within the journey. There are so many. I can honestly say I have learned so much about God and what hopereally means having traveled this path. We’ve had it all–pain, questions, needles, weight gain, doctors, loss, hope . . .
After our last go-round with fertility treatment and subsequent loss, I experienced an incredible clarity like never before. I wrote about one aspect of that here.
The other aspect has been bothering me for quite some time, and I finally have some free time to give shape to it. It looks like two words:
When “reproductive rights” comes up, we all generally know what that means: (a) birth control, (b) abortion, and (c) easy, cheap access to a and b. If you doubt me, just read this article I stumbled upon back in January.
And if you were to look up the definition of reproductive rights, you might stumble upon the Center for Reproductive Rights. I’ll save you some time. Here is what they say they are about: We envision a world where every woman is free to decide whether and when to have children; where every woman has access to the best reproductive healthcare available; where every woman can exercise her choices without coercion or discrimination. More simply put, we envision a world where every woman participates with full dignity as an equal member of society. . . . Our groundbreaking cases before national courts, United Nations committees, and regional human rights bodies have expanded access to reproductive healthcare, including birth control, safe abortion, prenatal and obstetric care, and unbiased information. It sounds nice and utopic and very pro-women at first. Until I realize that my reproductive rights are not given a passing glance. My voice, my choices, my reproductive freedoms are not even considered.
Basically, infertility is never associated with anything having to do with women’s “reproductive rights” in this country. I don’t want or need birth control. I definitely don’t want an abortion. And I would love to get to the point where I need prenatal care.
But nothing about achieving pregnancy ever enters the discussion. The dots don’t connect for me.
When a woman is facing infertility, I can tell you first-hand that treatment costs quickly accumulate into the thousands. We, for example, have spent at least $21,000 on treatment, ultrasounds, blood tests, lab fees, and medications. And that’s not including costs associated with getting to and from the clinic and time away from work. Keep in mind that all of this isbefore the actual pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum care.
Our insurance company is not obligated by any law, state or otherwise, to pay a dime toward infertility treatment or medications. The onus is on us to figure out how to fund my very pricey reproductive choices. If, however, I wanted to prevent or abort a pregnancy, there are all kinds of provisions and laws and passionate protestors to make this easier and cheaper for me.
Basically, in this country, it is easier and cheaper (and more politically correct) to help women prevent and/or end a pregnancy than it is to help women achieve a pregnancy.
Think about this. If we suddenly made a single abortion $14,000 (the cost of ONE cycle of IVF-ICSI with monitoring and medication) and/or birth control $1,500 a month (a low-ball price of a one-month supply of fertility meds), the masses would FREAK OUT. Think picketing. Occupy movements. Marches. Sit-ins. Why? Because the cost makes the services inaccessible to the general population. When the cost is that high, choice diminishes.
And I can only think that fertility treatment is no different. The CDC reports that 7.4 million people have used fertility services. The astronomical treatment costs have undoubtedly limited women’s decision-making in this area. It looks an awful lot like price discrimination from where I sit.
Because here’s the truth:
To prevent conception of these two, it would’ve cost me $15/ month. If I took birth control monthly for 20 years, it would cost $3,600. Total.
To abort these two, it would’ve cost me about $500. These lives that we loved, suspended in time for seven years . . . for $500 . . .
The numbers are so backwards. The system is beyond crooked . . .
So, please. When you read and hear and discuss “reproductive rights” in America and in the world, please consider those of us who would give anything to need birth control or to have to consider abortion. Think about people out there spending thousands upon thousands of dollars to achieve pregnancy, to need prenatal care. Challenge people to ponder the gross price inequities of achieving vs. preventing/ending pregnancies.
And think about us. Speak up for us. Because the dots don’t connect for us.