My own history as an infertility patient is publicly documented, but I don’t usually choose to make it the primary focus of this site. After last week’s Personhood Mississippi press conference, though, I want to get personal here for a little bit.
Because I like to hear people’s statements for myself, I went to that press conference to listen to the Women for Personhood. I left it angry, very angry, and that has only intensified with a few days’ distance. This week’s Jackson Free Press goes right to the core of it:
Sigrest said women who oppose personhood do not speak for all women. “We are the women for personhood, and we want to share our side with you,” she said…. “Abortion is war on women,” [Anne Reed] told the JFP after the press conference. “… Abortion damages a woman in every way–physically, psychologically, emotionally, spiritually–in every way.”
I am now six years past the day when I held a pregnancy test in shaking hands, blinking through sudden tears to make sure I wasn’t imagining that second line. I write this with my three children clustered on the sofa next to me, and I will never go through infertility again. I have mostly worked through the emotional fallout of this complex failure of simple biology. I am a recovered infertile.
But I haven’t forgotten. Neither has my husband. We are so grateful for what we have, and so aware that we were lucky where others weren’t. Why us, and not so many others? We’ll never know.
I don’t presume to speak for Ashley Sigrest, or Anne Reed, or any of the other women on those steps last week. I never have. The only person I speak for is myself, and here is what I have to say:
You do not get to tell me whether I can become a mother.
Make no mistake: that is exactly what’s at issue here. As our FAQ discusses at length, IVF simply isn’t compatible with personhood. Oh, they may say they’re not anti-IVF, but their legislation, and their campaign literature, and their media statements tell the full story.
Thursday afternoon, one of these Women for Personhood told me, “You know, you don’t have a RIGHT to do IVF.”
Her words made me incandescently angry, but she is technically correct: there is no constitutional right to pursue infertility treatment. There is no Constitutional or legal protection for women and men who simply want to become parents, but who need a doctor’s help to get there.
Remember that, when personhood advocates tell you that their bills won’t override Supreme Court decisions. There are no Supreme Court decisions specifically protecting your access to IVF.
If you are an infertility patient, your only legal protection is that you have privacy rights to undergo any sort of medical treatment you like, as long as it doesn’t violate other people’s rights. Add in embryonic personhood, and everything changes.
Every single national medical organization involved in infertility treatment understands that personhood will effectively end IVF — ACOG, ASRM, RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, and every reproductive endocrinologist in the country. Ask the Oklahoma medical community, or the Mississippi doctors who fought Initiative 26 in 2011.
No “loophole” or “exception” can erase that fundamental conflict. Anyone who says otherwise either doesn’t understand the medical facts — or they are hoping that YOU don’t.
But infertility patients like me do, because we’ve learned the calculus of heartbreak: 21 eggs become 2 embryos become no baby. Or, if we land on the slender side of the probabilities, six eggs become two brown-haired daughters.
So no, I don’t speak for those Women for Personhood.
But I will not let them speak for me.