Surrogacy is a funny thing. A lot of people see it as a selfless act, which I’m not quite sure I agree with. Generous, compassionate, loving – yes. But selfless? I don’t see it that way. There is plenty that I gain from the surrogacy experience, so does that make it selfless? I’m not sure.
And if I’m really being honest, it’s hard for me to feel as virtuous as people make me out to be, especially when I’m only helping two people at a time. Granted, I’m helping them in a very profound way (perhaps, for them, the most profound way possible), but even still, all told I’ve impacted only 6 couples who needed help building their families.
That is, until this week.
This week I took part in Resolve’s Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill (Resolve is the national infertility association). The goal of Advocacy Day is to make many, many voices heard to our legislators and to ask them to support family-building bills that are currently before Congress. To say it was an amazing experience would be a vast understatement.
There were well over 200 people gathered for this year’s Advocacy Day and all of us worked on advancing the same bills:
S 469 and HR 3365 – Women Veterans and Families Health Services Act - these bills provide veterans wounded in the line of duty with access to reproductive treatments and adoption assistance
HR 4892 – Special Compensation to Certain Veterans With the Loss or Loss of Use of Creative Organs – this offers up to $20,000 extra compensation to use for family building initiatives
A Veterans’ Amendment to the Senate Appropriations Mil-Con Bill – this bill allows the Veteran Administration to offer IVF to veterans
S 950 and HR 2434 – The Adoption Tax Credit Refundability Act – this bill changes the Adoption Tax Credit to a refundable tax credit, especially useful for lower-income couples and families
Advancing the CDC National Action Plan for Infertility – While not a bill, this is an important initiative nonetheless. In 2014, the CDC issued a public health action plan that declared infertility a public health issue. The resulting pro-family plan identifies scientific and programmatic steps for the CDC, communities, doctors, and others to take to detect, prevent, and successfully manage infertility and our role on Advocacy Day was to ask our elected leaders to champion this plan.
As you might notice, the reproductive medicine bills are limited to veterans, not the public at large. This is because military- and veteran-specific bills are the only infertility-related issues currently before Congress. I’m told that in past Resolve Advocacy Days, the issues have included ones benefiting the civilian population as well. It was an honor to give back, even in this small way, to men and women who have served our country.
Did you know that the Veterans Administration currently bans IVF for wounded vets, even ones whose fertility-related injuries were suffered in the line of duty? It’s an archaic policy, dating back to the 1970s when IVF was still considered “experimental” (and we all know how that experiment panned out!).
It’s my hope that by speaking out this week to my Senators, my House Representative, as well as to another House Representative from a different part of the state, we can change this dated and unnecessary policy to one that not only recognizes the success of IVF treatment, but provides it as a vital solution to our wounded veterans.
And in service to the civilian population is the adoption tax refund, of course, which is great. But it’s also important to note that historically, the military has led the way in establishing new medical treatments and protocols. That means that any changes for the better in the military and Veterans Administration’s infertility policies and procedures benefit the armed forces in the short term, but all of us in the long term. And asking our elected leaders to support the CDC’s infertility action plan is clearly of benefit to us all.
It was a thrill and an honor to take part in Resolve’s Advocacy Day, but the fight is not over! There is plenty that you can do to help make these bills a reality – check Resolve’s site to find out how you can lend your voice to this important cause that ultimately benefits us all.