A private Ottawa radio station's contest to 'Win a baby' puts a much needed spotlight on the issue of infertility, says an expert in child infertility, though she questions the way it’s being done.
Jan Silverman, a member of Ontario's expert panel on infertility, said most infertile couples could not afford to pay for in-vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments. The costs are not publicly covered.
The contest, run by hip hop radio station Hot 89.9, advertises a chance for a woman to win three IVF treatments, worth at least $35,000, which could help boost the chances of her conceiving.
Posters have also popped up around Ottawa advertising the contest.
"I certainly dislike the commodification of babies, turning babies into products," said Silverman, who is also with the infertility support and education program at the Women's College Hospital in Toronto.
"However, I am pleased that it brings attention to the plight, to the expense that infertile couples that require IVF must go through to have a baby."
Contest could help 'desperate' couples
The contest will trim a list of entrants down to five finalists who will share their personal stories on the radio. Then listeners will have a chance to vote online before a panel of judges picks the winner.
Silverman said IVF provides couples with the chance to have a child who otherwise could not.
"The couples I see are, of course, pretty desperate by the time they get to this point in their treatment cycle and have already spent a lot of blood, sweat, tears and money on trying to realize this dream," she said.
Silverman's panel has advised the provincial government to pay for at least three IVF treatments per year, which has yet to happen.
She also said the radio station's young demographic is likely targeted because they may want a baby but do not have the money to pay for the treatments.