If Jessica Upham of West Babylon, New York, conceives a baby this month, it more than likely won't be via "traditional" methods. Upham is slated to undergo in vitro fertilization, or IVF, treatment later this month - a treatment session that she won in a raffle contest at her local clinic.
Upham won her free IVF session by responding to a contest announcement in April by Long Island I.V.F., an IVF clinic in Melville, New York. The contest ad stated, “[t]hat’s right, one lucky woman will win the ultimate chance at starting or building her family.”
For the contest, contestants were asked to submit “the most emotional or entertaining essays and homemade amateur videos” showing why they should be chosen for the free round of I.V.F. “Make us laugh with you or cry with you,” the announcement said. “Tell your story straight from the heart.”
In Upham's video, she showed how she repeatedly submitted to hormone injections in her abdomen in an attempt to conceive a child. The video also followed a weeping Upham as she learned the news that she was not pregnant after hormone treatments.
When Upham found out that she won the contest, she “just lost it,” she said in an interview. But while she may be thrilled, others have raised some concern over this growing practice of raffling off IVF treatments.
According to a recent article in the New York Times, fertility clinics around the country have found that these types of contests and promotions are an effective marketing tool and a good way to reach out to potential customers. They see it as win-win - the clinic gets good advertising and the winner gets a shot at an expensive fertility treatment that she might not otherwise be able to afford.
But not everyone is okay with this style of promotion. According to the Times article, some medical ethicists worry that raffling off an IVF treatment exploits people at a vulnerable time in their lives and trivializes the act of conception and the role of parenthood.
It's pretty sticky territory when you mix something as deeply emotional as becoming a parent with something as trivial as filling out a raffle ticket.
Should parenthood really be something that is won in a contest? Or are these promotions just a good way to level the financial playing field for families that would not normally be able to afford expensive fertility treatment? What's your take on this?