And then this.
And the series of initial responses here.
And here is my contribution, emailed this morning:
Dear Ms. Newkirk,
Let me first explain, I am an animal lover. I rescued my dog after she had been dropped off pregnant at a kill shelter, then transferred by caring animal activists to a no-kill shelter where she had her puppies with proper veterinary care and was then spayed. She is part of my family and we cherish her. I don't possess the fervent level of dedication to animals rights that PETA proclaims to, but I do care and I am responsible.
Now. With regard to your campaign, ne, stunt, to offer a free vasectomy "in honor" of National Infertility Awareness Week, in exchange for the "lucky" recipient getting his pet spayed or neutered, I take issue. On a very basic personal level, I am deeply offended. My husband and I hoped to start a family, and learned we had severe male factor infertility. Despite taking care of our bodies, our pets, and our planet, we were given the devastating news that we would be unable to have a child to share our lives with, to raise to responsible adulthood in a loving home. We were referred to infertility specialists and eventually conceived via in vitro fertilization, and are now the proud parents of a beautiful baby boy. I am telling you my story to put not too fine a point on it: making light of infertility as a PR trick is cheap and hurtful. And claiming that it is "in honor" of National Infertility Awareness Week is simply deplorable.
Do you, or anyone on your staff, have children? Do you, or anyone on your staff, have a diagnosis of infertility? Please ponder these questions carefully. For all of your claims that the human population is out of control, I certainly hope none of you have "bred" any human babies. For if so, how can I ever trust that PETA practices what it preaches? And certainly, all of your male staffers should have had vasectomies by now, and your female staff should have had tubal ligations, at the very least. And I dearly hope that any staff who have suffered infertility, in exchange for doing their part (albeit unwillingly) to keep the human population lowered, have received free spaying and neutering services for their pets. (Does any of this help you see how awful and outright ridiculous your campaign is?)
It is idiotic to equate animal population control through spaying and neutering, with the size of the human population and infertility. All animals, including humans (or didn't you know that, technically speaking, we're animals, too?), are driven by biological imperatives to reproduce. There is evidence that even animals grieve when they lose a baby, demonstrating just how hard-wired the desire to produce and care for young truly is. Responsible adult humans who desire to create and raise a family, but are unable to do so as a result of infertility, have every right to seek treatment and find ways to grow their family. And you, an organization dedicated to treating animals with dignity and care, have no right to mock, belittle, or trivialize the struggle and pain endured by those of us who are unable to conceive children on our own. Being infertile is not a choice, it is a medical condition that can (in many cases) be treated; it is physically, emotionally, and financially devastating in ways that you clearly are incapable of understanding. Infertility is not a method of reducing the world's human population; responsible family planning, which includes having reproductive choices, is the way to address the human population. A vasectomy is not an appropriate "prize" to honor National Infertility Awareness Week. Offering a vasectomy "in honor" of this medical condition is akin to offering a free bolus of intravenous potassium "in honor" of heart health awareness.
I understand that part of PETA's mission is to use shocking images and campaigns to get attention for your cause. But I ask you to cease and remove all materials from your "win a vasectomy" contest, because it is degrading and inhumane. If you must use such tactics to further your cause, that's your prerogative, but to do so by denigrating a large group of people (of over 7 million infertility patients) is unacceptable. Please find another way to advance your organization's mission that does not involve petty mischaracterization and hurtful antagonism of a large community of people suffering from the medical condition of infertility.
Until this campaign is ended, I will continue to share my concerns about PETA's treatment of humans with infertility with my friends, family, and a large blogging community that includes mommy blogs, parenting blogs, infertility blogs, and the broad reach of the RESOLVE network. I encourage you to be proactive and immediately end this contest, if for no other reason than to retain support and a modicum of respect from these individuals.
Jennifer B___, Ph.D.
If you want to help:
- Send an email expressing your concern and anger with this campaign to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Don't open or link directly to the PETA contest page, which would increase their pageviews; instead, use this screenshot link (provided by the fine blogger behind Hannah Wept Sarah Laughed)
- Share this with friends, family, fellow bloggers, and anyone who cares to listen