The ASRM Advocacy Academy was a great success again this year! The half day event was held in Washington, D.C. May 17th and was convened in partnership with RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, which hosts its Advocacy Day each May. The combined event was attended by more than 220 ASRM members and RESOLVE advocates, more than ever in the history of RESOLVE’s annual event!
ASRM President, Dr. Richard Paulson, opened the event and led a panel of experts in a discussion of personhood legislation and the importance of defending the science of reproductive technologies and protecting fertility treatments from policies that attempt to define fertilized reproductive tissues as “people.” Dr. Paulson is the author of an editorial on this topic, which appeared in a recent issue of Fertility and Sterility. ASRM has successfully worked to defeat personhood legislation at both the federal and state levels for the past decade.
A panel of doctors, including ASRM members, Drs. Ann Davis and Maria Bustillo, followed with important advice on how to become involved in public policy and tips for talking with elected officials and their staff about issues important to our field. Both Drs. Davis and Bustillo have been very active in ASRM’s advocacy efforts over the years. They were joined on the panel by Dr. Reyn Archer, an obstetrician-gynecologist who is also the Chief of Staff to Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee.
Attendees also heard from a panel of lobbyists working in Washington about the best strategies for developing successful partnerships with organizations with similar interests and policy agendas. Many of ASRM’s policy successes are achieved in partnership with organizations like those represented on the panel, including the March of Dimes, Paralyzed Veterans of America and Fertile Action.
A panel of speakers rounded out the day, sharing strategies for successful advocacy at the state level. ASRM was pleased to hear from Delegate Cory McCray, a sponsor of legislation in Maryland to require insurance coverage of fertility preservation procedures, as well as representatives from the Maryland State Medical Society (MedChi), the American Civil Liberties Union, and Catholics for Choice.
ASRM members joined RESOLVE the next day for a commanding presentation from Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN), the Ranking Member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee and himself a father as a result of IVF. Walz expressed strong support for RESOLVE’s mission and congratulated attendees on coming to D.C. to bring awareness to issues of access to infertility care. Attendees then departed to Capitol Hill for a day of lobbying, which included visits to an impressive number of congressional offices–more than 156 scheduled meetings with advocates from 30 states–again more than ever in the history of RESOLVE’s event.
We look forward to seeing you at the next ASRM Advocacy Academy!