My letter to Stephanie Saul. A huge thank you to Whitney for editing it.
Good afternoon. This letter is in reference to your series of “investigative” articles regarding Artificial Reproductive Technology (ART). I have read most of these articles and, with the year coming to a close, felt the need to address some of the issues you have highlighted in these pieces.
My first area of concern is your lack of knowledge or desire to use the correct terminology when referring to fertility treatments. For example, you repeatedly use the word “implant” when referring to an embryo being placed inside a woman’s uterus during in-vitro fertilization. However, no reproductive endocrinologist that I am aware of is able to physically implant an embryo to “make” a woman pregnant. The correct term to use is transfer. Please also note that I referred to the items being transferred as embryos and not eggs. Eggs alone are not transferred, only retrieved.
Another term you use often is “business” or “industry” in reference to the various clinics and doctors in the fertility community. What about the fertility community prompts you to refer to it as a business? Would you refer to adoption agencies as the adoption industry? Perhaps you already do, so let me try another example: Do you refer to the clinics and doctors who treat AIDS as the AIDS industry? You most likely do not, since this would be considered highly offensive to those who suffer from AIDS. In fact, I highly doubt you refer to any other doctors or specialists who study and treat various diseases as industries.
What makes the infertility community different? I say community because we are one. This is not a business venture, either for couples or doctors. As for the couples who suffer from infertility, none of us chose to be this way. We were born with a condition or defect that prohibits us from becoming pregnant naturally. Many of us try for years before seeking professional help. And though I am sure there are individuals who study reproductive endocrinology with the sole purpose of making money, most become fertility specialists because they have a desire to fulfill the dreams of deserving couples who seek their expertise.
Reading your articles sparked my curiosity as to why you are so interested in writing about ART when you clearly have no personal ties to someone with infertility, nor do you care to create those ties or empathize with those who suffer from this disease. Is this a series that was created and outlined by your superiors? Or do you simply enjoy writing passive-aggressive pieces directed toward women and men who so desperately want a child? I understand that you yourself may not have children or may not have the desire to procreate, and there is nothing wrong with this. Women and men every day choose childfree living and it is a perfectly acceptable way of life. The stereotypes once held against childless couples no longer apply today.
Yet the stereotypes that exist for couples with infertility remain. It is sometimes even more enraging to see the kind of responses your articles provoke. Your negative portrayal of our community sparks a number of outrageous comments, none of which are new to me, but they do not minimize the pain. To think that couples only want a child to tote around and play “dress up” with is not only absurd, it is downright offensive. If I wanted a baby to play dress up with, Ms. Saul, I would have purchased a Cabbage Patch Kid rather than spent thousands of dollars on fertility treatments. To imply that couples are now “buying” their children is even more ridiculous. If this is the case, where are your articles criticizing adoption?
Though I would love to write more about each topic you have covered, I have neither the time nor the patience or appropriate language to respond to each individual, biased piece of writing you have published on this subject.
I will end with this: I thoroughly look forward to the New Year when I assume your articles will focus on a different subject area, one on which I hope you are more appropriately educated.