So I got a lousy one-line auto-reply from the dicks, erm, I mean, caring animal activists, at PETA. It included the sentence, "Be patient." Oooh. Not my strong suit.
So I fired off another email, this time taking a slightly different approach and trying to explain 1) why their contest language re: population control and "reproductive-free living" in the context of infertility is fucktarded and 2) how little they know about infertility. Imma catch more flies with honey than vinegar.
Dear Ms. Newkirk,
I'm disappointed that I haven't received a reply, even if only a form letter, to my email sent yesterday regarding PETA's "win a vasectomy" contest, which you are touting as a prize in "honor" of National Infertility Awareness Week later this month. I can only imagine you have received many such emails, due to the sensitive nature of a campaign that invokes any prize in "honor" of infertility awareness, and I know from personal experience how passionate the infertility patient community is about our medical diagnosis and the public perception of it.
I'd like to try and reattempt communication with a less passionate, perhaps more explanatory approach. To begin, I am actually quite simpatico with PETA's mission to protect animals and prevent overpopulation of companion animals. I also agree that global human overpopulation is a serious problem that requires effective and sensible solutions. I am in absolute agreement with your organization's supposition, as expressed explicitly in the contest in question, that voluntary birth control and "reproductive-free living" is one way to address the growth of our human population. Where I diverge is when you suggest or imply that the medical condition of infertility is an effective and desirable method of population control, and when you attempt to equate it with a voluntary birth control measure such as a vasectomy. It makes me wonder if you are clear on what infertility actually is. I would like to try and explain why your association of infertility with voluntary birth control is inaccurate.
Infertility is a medical term that encompasses multiple specific conditions that cause a patient to be unable to conceive or carry a baby to term, including but not limited to: endometriosis, Fallopian tube damage, ovarian cancer, cervical cancer, uterine cancer, pituitary tumors, uterine fibroids, testicular cancer, sterility secondary to chemotherapy or radiation therapy for cancer, bleeding disorders, and a variety of genetic anomalies. None of these medical conditions in any way involves a voluntary decision to live "reproduction-free." And most of these conditions, like many medical diagnoses, are treatable with appropriate reproductive endocrinology care so that individuals and their partners can conceive a child. Patients with infertility are usually lucky if they can successfully conceive one, perhaps two children, if any at all. We are not significant contributors to overpopulation in the way that, say, lack of access to birth control and sex education are worldwide.
To give away a vasectomy in conjunction with a contest to neuter your pet is cute, and attention-grabbing, and not at all offensive to me or most people, including the infertility patient community at large. But it is a bridge too far to suggest that we have chosen our infertility and/or that it is some method of population control. Let's be level: you included National Infertility Awareness Week in your contest language precisely because it's a controversial stand to take on the issue of human population control. Why not suggest that AIDS or cancer are helping to curb the population? Why not praise suicide as a way for individuals to thin the herd? How about lethal birth defects and severe mental retardation, since they get rid of people on the planet, too? Why not celebrate miscarriage? I suspect it's just because you know that advocacy groups for these diseases and conditions are extremely visible and powerful, so you picked a fight you felt you could more easily control. All I can ask is that you consider the people you are hurting. We are responsible people who engage in carefully thought out and hard-fought family planning and we deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. The contest is only objectionable insomuch as it ties voluntary birth control and population control to infertility by mentioning National Infertility Awareness Week. This association is scientifically inaccurate and extremely insensitive. I personally think your campaign would be just as effective if you removed language related to National Infertility Awareness Week, and respectfully ask that you do so.
Jennifer B___, PhD