The Story Behind The New York Times Op-Ed: Selling the Fantasy of Fertility

If you’ve read one breathless headline in popular media about the latest and greatest breakthroughs in fertility medicine you’ve read them all. Articles written about reproductive medicine routinely characterize assisted reproductive technologies (I.U.I, I.V.F., donor eggs, egg freezing and surrogacy) as a “sure thing” when, it turns out, close to 80 percent of the cycles performed annually around the world fail. It took some digging (since clinics are reluctant if not downright misleading about success rates), but the facts are spelled out on the European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology website.

The distorted reality that fertility medicine equals ‘successful science’ is what led me and author Miriam Zoll to team up and co-author a piece to set the record straight and rein in the hype. We submitted a letter and and an op-ed to The New York Times entreating the editors to provide a public service by adding new voices to the often one-dimensional conversations.

And I’m happy to report the editorial team agreed with us. Our piece can be found here:

Selling the Fantasy of Fertility

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Our op-ed had one mission: advocate for greater transparency from clinics to patients (and the public) so that couples planning for parenthood, and contemplating fertility treatments, can make truly informed decisions about their health.

As Judy Norsigian, executive director Our Bodies Ourselves, wrote in the Foreword of Miriam’s new memoir-expose, Cracked Open: Liberty, Fertility and the Pursuit of High-Tech Babies:

“Regardless of the reasons, more and more Americans are swarming to the doorsteps of fertility clinics with their hopes high and their pockets bulging with cash. Many do not realize the extent to which they are participating in a vast experiment, where evidence-based medicine has yet to establish a reasonable foothold. They surrender their bodies, sexualities, and emotional lives to the doctors, syringes, and drugs that might lead them into parenthood. They sign up willingly because they believe—and the U.S. media reinforces their beliefs—that science and technology have finally outsmarted Mother Nature, and that concern for women’s biological clocks is no longer relevant.”

This op-ed is only the beginning of movement to broaden the conversation.

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