SGF team members in front of the United States Capitol during Advocacy Day.

Advocacy Day is an annual event hosted by RESOLVE, The National Fertility Association and sponsored by Shady Grove Fertility where the infertility community comes together in Washington, D.C. to support legislative initiatives that will assist the 1 in 8 couples who experience infertility. It’s a chance to make the voice of the infertility community heard. 2017’s Advocacy Day had the most registrants to date with over 246 advocates from 30 different states including 17 Shady Grove Fertility physicians, staff, and patients. The state of Maryland had the largest state delegation, mainly made up the SGF team.

“Life Experiences Shape Who You Are”

The Honorable Timothy Waltz, (MN- 1st District), U.S. House of Representatives

During the morning training session, many RESOLVE board members spoke and gave an overview for how to advocate most effectively. As advocates, it was our responsibility to properly explain the issues and represent those who face infertility. Before we left for our exciting day on Capitol Hill, The Honorable Timothy Waltz, (MN- 1st District), U.S. House of Representatives, spoke to the room of advocates. He is the highest-ranking enlisted soldier to ever serve in Congress. He also had trouble having children with his wife and they turned to IVF. He spoke of the long road of infertility and how the pathway to parenthood can be difficult. Rep. Waltz joked that they finally had their miracle daughter and named her Hope, while their second child they simply named Gus. The speech inspired the room as he said “we evolve with the experiences around us” and that your “life experiences shape who you are.” Many people at Advocacy Day probably never imagined that infertility would be the cause they would carry the torch for, but once you’re faced with infertility it becomes hugely important to you.

Supporting Our Veterans

The first bill on the Advocacy Day agenda was the Women Veterans and Families Health Services Act (S 700 & HR 1681). This bill provides veterans wounded in the line of duty with access to reproductive treatments and adoption assistance permanently. The original bill, which was passed after the efforts of 2016 Advocacy Day, provides IVF coverage for 2 years, but we believe it’s time to make the coverage permanent. Dr. Jason Bromer, of SGF’s Frederick, MD and Hagerstown, MD offices, shared the story of his patients, Lauren and Kevin Jaye. Kevin is a veteran and during his service was severely injured by an IED requiring 30+ surgeries, all of which were covered by the VA. However, the only treatment not covered, despite his injury occurring while he was serving his country, was IVF that the couple would require in order to have a baby. The Jayes went on to have a baby with the help of Dr. Bromer, but made their story known by advocating for coverage for all veterans injured during service.

Making Adoption Affordable

Adoption can be expensive, and over 100,000 children are waiting to be moved into permanent homes. The Adoption Tax Credit has been around since 1997, but the importance of it staying intact during the likely upcoming tax reform is imperative to helping the 100,000+ children be adopted. This credit helps encourage adoption and eases the financial burden that adoptive families sometimes face. However, the tax credit helps only those who can use it depending on their income level and if they qualify for adoption expenses.

In addition to ensuring the credit stays intact, the goal is to advance the Adoption Tax Credit Refundability Act (S 937 & HR 2476) to encourage adoptions. The adoption tax credit needs to be made refundable so that low- to moderate-income families can afford to adopt children.

(L to R) SGF Drs. Gilbert Mottla, Jason Bromer, and Arthur Sagoskin

Stopping Personhood Bills

For the first time, Resolve added the Personhood bills (S 231 & HR 586 & HR 681) to the agenda for Advocacy Day. It is crucial to educate the Government on how Personhood would hurt the safe and effective practice of IVF, infertility research, and fertility treatment. Since 1985, over 1 million babies in America have been born as a result of IVF. This Advocacy Day we stood in opposition in order to protect our current and future patients.

Dr. Gilbert Mottla of our Annapolis, MD and Rockville, MD offices, perfectly summed up the power of Advocacy Day by saying, “Whenever I visit Capitol Hill I feel the strength of our democracy and get just a bit of a chill walking between buildings in front of our Supreme Court and Library of Congress.” At Shady Grove Fertility we enjoy being able to support our patients by speaking up and making our voices heard. Having a family is a basic human right and SGF continues to make parenthood possible for couples all over the world.

 To learn more about Advocacy Day or to schedule an appointment with one of our physicians, please contact our New Patient Center at 1-877-971-7755.

 At Shady Grove Fertility, we’re here to give you the caring support you deserve as you start or grow your family. As a leading fertility and IVF center of excellence, we offer patients individualized care, innovative financial options, over 30 accepted insurance plans, and pregnancy rates among the highest of all national centers. We offer patients the convenience of 19 full-service and 6 satellite locations across Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. More than 1,700 physicians choose Shady Grove Fertility to refer their patients, and more than 96 percent of our patients say they would recommend Shady Grove Fertility’s 35+ physicians to a friend. With 10 Shady Grove Fertility babies born each day, your dream of starting or growing your family is within reach.