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#IVFContests #IVFAwareness #BuildJewish Families

Another group held a video conference for a free IVF. This was a new twist however, because the host of the contest was a radio station in Utah. The ends of the contest – the chance for someone without the financial means to be able to receive treatment that may lead to having a baby – is a wonderful goal. An important question is if those ends justify the means.

Unlike most coverage of these contests, a recent article reporting about this contest shared both sides of this story. The pro’s include building awareness about infertility, the emotional and financial costs that it takes, and providing someone with treatment. It may also help people speak out and get support they may not have otherwise received.

The con’s are another story.  “Asking couples to create a video for a radio station about raw, difficult experiences can feel like making entertainment out of someone’s misery” said one contributor to the story. Another shared that the contest is, “ a very offhand or casual way to deal with something that we generally view as being a more serious issue.” Indeed.

The public votes on the videos submitted by the finalist for the radio station contest. Imagine you are applying for this and were told you were a finalist. Do you make your story the saddest? Do you show yourself as the most hopeful? The most desperate? Do you need good production values? Do you have others speak for you? Should you be funny? How do you get people to vote for your video? Whatever the criteria for earning IVF treatment, it seems as much a reflection of how to use publicity to show yourself as deserving treatment.  And that is a problem. Someone deserves treatment more than others? Someone’s story is more compelling? Or is it a popularity contest with extremely high stakes? None of the answers are good.

Another con is that these contests overshadow an underlying issue of why the treatment is not funded in the first place. The insurance industry is not taking on this issue and the idea that it is expensive is not a legitimate answer. Cancer treatment is not cheap. Neither is a mastectomy, cataract surgery, diabetes treatment or treatments for accidents and traumas. We ought to be asking more challenging questions about why treatment for infertility like IVF is not available and affordable.

For Hasidah, these issues are not taken lightly. The medical appropriateness, financial need, and personal information are taken seriously to ensure the best possibility of building a Jewish family. Hasidah grant applicants take a significant amount of time and effort to apply which often is not rewarded with funding. We try to honor that with continual efforts to build awareness, to treat our clients with the utmost respect and not make a spectacle of their experiences.

If there was a contest to be held, perhaps it ought to be finding the most effective strategy for making IVF affordable and making insurance coverage for it part of standard health insurance. That would be the mother of all contests.

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Hasidah has opened a new cycle and is currently accepting applications for in vitro fertilization (IVF) grants and loans. Funding is available for people in the Jewish community, throughout the United States, who require IVF in order to have children and need financial assistance for treatment. The deadline for applications is Thursday, March 30. Interested parties should visit https://hasidah.org/financial-resources/grants-and-loans/ for application information.

Hasidah is the voice of hope and compassion that raises awareness of infertility, connects people to support, and reduces financial barriers to treatment in the Jewish community. Now in its third year of operation, Hasidah has previously completed four cycles of funding for families combating infertility in the Jewish community. The organization also offers support networks for struggling families, advocacy training for clergy and online resources of news in the fertility realm.

Hasidah is the Hebrew word for stork. The root of the word (Hesed) means loving-kindness. Hasidah was founded on the belief that one of the greatest gifts of loving-kindness is helping couples struggling with infertility to become parents. Hasidah believes that Jewish families are the core of Jewish life and children are the source of our future, and therefore is dedicated to the work of addressing infertility, financially supporting treatment, and promoting awareness in our community. Building Jewish families is existentially important for our future. Hasidah understands that having Jewish children is a birthright and the community has a responsibility to help make that happen.

Contact: Rabbi Idit Solomon, (415) 323-3226, Idit@Hasidah.org

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