We’re Not in Kansas

by The Center for Bioethics and Culture

By Jennifer Lahl, CBC President

The Dr. Oz Show

As you probably know by now, the episode of the Dr. Oz show that I taped in New York City in December, 2011, aired on January 27. I hope you were able to watch it, but if not, Dr. Oz has plenty of clips up from the show. They recorded for nearly two hours, but the running time of the show is only about 40 minutes. Much of what was said ends up on the proverbial editing room floor. Many good and important insights, particularly from some of our friends in the audience, did not make it on the air.

On the whole, however, I was pleased with how the show came out. Dr. Oz allowed for a wide-ranging exchange of ideas and very clearly explained how the aging process affects fertility. Dr. John Jains, my sparring partner, talked about helping women (with ‘donated’ eggs) to have a child well up into their 50s. Jains announced on the show that the embryos his facility lost have been found. Fact Check: We contacted the plaintiff’s attorney who said the DNA testing has yet to be done to confirm this. Lawyers don’t like public appearances on national TV while a case is being sorted out. I’ll be watching the outcome of this and will keep you posted.

Some of the audience comments show how difficult the task is of raising awareness about the realities of infertility and the dangers involved in making use of reproductive technologies.

Our message highlighting the dangers to women involved in egg ‘donation,’ the risks of fertility drugs, and the issues that arise in the lives of children conceived with these technologies got a significant boost from being heard on such a prominent national forum. Already I’ve heard from:

  • A single woman in Canada considering having a child via sperm donation
  • A woman who took fertility drugs to conceive and has been diagnosed with cancer

And quite a few others just praising or condemning my message.

New York Screenings

On the heels of the Dr. Oz airing, I have just returned from a wonderful week of screening both Eggsploitation and Anonymous Father’s Day at the Soho Gallery for Digital Art in New York City. Both films were overwhelmingly well received by a diverse group of attendees.

The Sunday night premier screening of Anonymous Father’s Day was standing room only. Many of the donor-conceived people from the film were on hand, as well as many others who are interested in donor conception and reproductive technologies.

All of our social media buzz, all of our outreach, flyers, emails, and phone calls to campuses really got students out. Students attended from:

  • Columbia University
  • NYU
  • LeHigh University
  • Hunter College
  • The Kings College
  • Pratt Institute
  • The New School
  • Baruch College
  • Yeshiva University

 

We even had a group of students who are involved in The Vagina Monologues attend one of the Eggsploitation screenings. They were enthusiastic about the message of the film and left with DVDs, motivated to get the film shown on their campuses and placed in their student health centers. As one of our supporters in attendance said, “You just can’t make this stuff up!”

We also had faculty from NYU, The New School, and Yeshiva University attend over the course of the week. A journalist from Glamour magazine attended, as she is writing a pro and con piece on donor-conceived children. Even a man who self-identified as an “over 1,000 time” sperm donor attended. Photos from the premier are posted on our facebook page

 

In sum, we have seen some amazing successes over the past few weeks. I could not have done it without your support. But much remains to be done to get our message out. At the time of this writing, I’m being considered for a new TLC program that will devote an entire segment to the story of the serial sperm donor, Trent Arsenault. We are quickly booking showings of the films at various university campuses as well as booking conference-speaking engagements. We count on your continued support in order to seize upon all these opportunities. We are making a difference!

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