The marble halls of the Dirksen Senate building rang with the sound of sensible shoes and nervous energy as a hearing room began to fill with all different types of people ready to talk about infertility advocacy.
They were teachers, military members, lawyers, writers, nurses, accountants, retail associates, doctors, business professionals, assistants, CEOs, scientists, republicans, democrats, green party, purple party, people who liked Coke and others who preferred Pepsi. How could a room with so many different people with different views, interests and backgrounds join together to become one voice?
It was simple. We were all bound together by one common thread; all of our lives have been forever touched by infertility. And that common thread pulled us together to bring our voices to Capitol Hill for Advocacy Day.
When I panned across the room, I saw tight hugs between old friends who have built strong bonds after coming back year after year. In another area of this room, I overheard doctors and other family building professionals discussing patient advocacy and equal access. Then there were brave new first time advocates unsure of the great impact the next 24 hours would soon have on their lives. This evening set the tone for the next 24 hours, as did the words spoken from RESOLVE Advocate Susann Edwards that would be echoed as our rally cry for the day that followed.
“If you aren’t at the table, you are on the menu. If you aren’t at the table, you are on the menu.
PEOPLE, we were on the menu. We ARE on the menu.
And it’s high time we get seats at the table for some more people, because we need to rewrite that menu.
So I started talking, YOU started talking.“
And start talking we did…in record Advocacy Day numbers!
241 registered advocates traveled to Washington D.C. from all over the country. Advocates from 30 states plus D.C. showed up with gusto to tell their story. We all wanted to be part of the unified effort to alter the future of people living with infertility.
There was something that made this year’s Advocacy Day different than the years prior. The patients were not the only ones with thinning tread on the soles of their shoes on Capitol Hill. There was a much larger presence from the professional community who decided they too wanted to take a seat at this table. RESOLVE partnered with The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) in coordinating this event and that advocacy partnership brought together a force that would be unstoppable.
Honorable Tim Walz
Then there was the Honorable Tim Walz, a representative from the state of Minnesota and now a father through IVF. His keynote during the opening training was not only motivating, but it got all of us fired-up to be change makers for the day.
Together, patients, professionals and supporters met with lawmakers from their home states.
Here’s what advocates talked about:
We asked our members of Congress to make #IVF4Vets a permanent program: Because of our past advocacy efforts, we were successful in securing funding so that the Veterans Administration can offer IVF for wounded Vets in FY 2017 and FY 2018, but it did not lift the ban permanently. We had a simple ask: make #IVF4Vets permanent through passage of the Women Veterans and Families Health Services Act (HR 1681 and S700).
Personhood: The fight against personhood bills is usually a fight we encounter in state legislatures, but with two Personhood bills in a new Congress, we need to be sure our lawmakers know how these impact those needing medical treatment to build their family. Personhood is declaring a fertilized egg a “person” with all the rights and responsibilities afforded a living human being. If enacted, a Personhood law would force changes in the practice of reproductive medicine and make practicing medicine to the standard of care needed very difficult. Doctors may be unable to freeze embryos, or test embryos before transferring them. It was important that our advocates educated Congress on how the infertility community would be impacted and to oppose H.R. 586, H.R. 681, and S 231. Read RESOLVE’s Personhood Policy here.
Adoption Tax Credit Refundability Act of 2017, HR 2476, S. 937: Since 1997 the Adoption Tax Credit has been an important policy allowing thousands of families to adopt a child or children. Congress has made tax reform a high priority and the Adoption Tax Credit is in jeopardy. Our voices during this year’s Advocacy Day was critical in the need to educate our legislators on why keeping this credit is pro-family.
We talked a lot and we had a firm seat at their table. Here’s the thing, we don’t want to lose our seat. What is at stake for the infertility community is too great to risk walking away. The moment we stop talking someone else will begin a new conversation and our issues disappear. Pro-family advocacy is not an annual event, it is every day. Even if you did not join us in Washington D.C. this year, you can help us keep talking. Here’s how:
Stay connected with your Members of Congress.
That includes their staffers. A lot of Members of Congress are also active on social media pages. Reach out to them! Let them know as their constituent, why they need to care about people with infertility.
Get involved locally.
Back to the wise words lamented from Susann Edwards:
“Tell them. (Congress) It’s time to get out there, get off the menu and take a seat at the head of the table. There’s no greater work, and there’s no better group of people to get it done.”