The Fertility Industry Superhighway

by Jennifer Lahl, CBC President on September 12, 2013

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Miriam Zoll, author of the recent book Cracked Open: Liberty, Fertility and the Pursuit of High-Tech Babies, has a terrific piece out in today’s New York Times on “Selling the Fantasy of Fertility” to those struggling with infertility. She’s co-written the piece with Pamela Tsigdinos, and their voices are important as they write from their personal experience of having been on the fertility superhighway.

They speak of the powerful seduction of the fertility industry, which promises to give you the baby you so desperately want. They also address the strong lure to try one more time writing, “inside the surreal world of reproductive medicine” there is “no obvious off-ramp; you keep at it as long as your bank account, health insurance, or sanity holds out.”

You certainly won’t find their faces or their stories on fertility industry websites. As you Google and make your way to fertility industry websites, you will be inundated with photos of beautiful babies, happy couples, and even coupons for discounts for these expensive high-tech treatments. You won’t learn of the high failure rate. And you won’t hear stories like the ones these women have to tell.

But it is good news to see their piece in print. And it is our hope that many more men and women will come forward and tell their stories, putting pressure on the industry to come clean.

Zoll and Tsigdinos write, “Ending our treatments was one of the bravest decisions we ever made, and we did it to preserve what little remained of our shattered selves, our strained relationships, and our depleted bank accounts. No longer under the spell of the industry’s seductive powers, we study its marketing tactics with eagle eyes, and understand how, like McDonald’s, the fertility industry works to keep people coming back for more.”

This multi-billion dollar, largely unregulated, global industry with overall failure rates of 70% needs to be exposed. It’s nice to see those who have been lured by the desire to have a baby speaking up.

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