Posted on July 2nd, 2020by RMANY

Ep 26: Compensated Gestational Surrogacy and Establishing Parental Rights with Risa Levine

Fertility Forward Episode 26:

After becoming a fertility patient in 2004, Risa Levine began working to ensure federal insurance coverage for infertility treatment, and worked closely with RESOLVE for the passage of the family act to provide a tax credit for medical expenses incurred for infertility treatment. She has now committed to securing coverage for IVF for veterans injured in the line of duty, and for exploding the New York State mandate for including coverage for IVF. Following her own losing battle to keep her embryos in her divorce, Risa is dedicated to legislative change that would enable a party to keep his or her embryos as they desire. She is a passionate believer in grassroots activism and has been honored by RESOLVE numerous times. By day, she is a real estate attorney in the State of New York. In this episode, we talk about the Child-Parent Security Act (CPSA) and the importance of advocacy, where the surrogacy bill is today, and the legal nuances surrounding gestational surrogacy and establishing parental rights.

Transcript of Episode 26

Rena: Hi everyone! We are Rena and Dara and welcome to Fertility Forward. We are part of the wellness team at RMA of New York, a fertility clinic affiliated with Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Our Fertility Forward podcast brings together advice for medical professionals, mental health specialists, wellness experts, and patients because knowledge is power and you are your own best advocate.
Rena: After becoming a fertility patient in 2004, Risa Levine began working to secure a federal insurance coverage for infertility treatment and work closely with Resolve for the passage of the family act to provide a tax credit for medical expenses incurred for infertility treatment. She has now committed to securing coverage for IVF for veterans injured in the line of duty and for expanding the New York state mandate to include coverage for IVF. Following her own losing battle to keep her embryos in her divorce, Ms. Levine has dedicated to legislative change that would enable a party to keep his or her embryos as they desire. She is a passionate believer in grassroots activism and has been honored by resolve numerous times by day she is a real estate attorney in the state of New York. In this episode, we talk about the child-parent security act and the importance of advocacy, where the surrogacy bill is today, and the legal nuances surrounding gestational surrogacy and establishing parental rights.
Rena: We're so excited to welcome today, champion and New York state advocate, Risa Levine, who has played a paramount role and trying to advance the child parent security act. Lisa, welcome to fertility forward. Can you tell us where the bill currently stands?
Risa: We made a lot of progress on the bill this past session before we couldn't even get it to a vote. This year, the bill passed the Senate. We had an alta hearing in the Senate before that and we have numerous press conferences about it, but it did not pass the assembly this year. We didn't get a vote on it yet. So next year we're hoping that we do.
Dara: So let's take it back to the beginning.
Risa: Well then I have to take you back to my freshman year of college. I don't know that you want to go back that far, but I have been the kind of person my entire life that gets involved in causes to the point where people make fun of me and my causes. And one of my early causes was Soviet Jury. And that was a choice to advocate on behalf of Soviet jury on Capitol Hill, the alternative there at the time was people were getting arrested in front of the Soviet embassy and things like that. And my belief was that we live in a representational democracy and what a great thing that we don't live in the former Soviet Union where you couldn't go and talk to your legislators. So why would I want to do something that would be civic unrest, Soviet style? So instead I went to Capitol Hill with student organizations that were headquartered at my college Brandeis University and eventually became chair of the student lobby to advocate on behalf of Soviet jury. Eventually, many, many, many, not all of the Soviet jews were released and it was because of the advocacy of the United States Congress that that happened. And that snowballed into a lifetime of understanding that civic engagement and advocacy really is the way to go when you have a cost. But from me, I always did it for other people. I never really understood that there was something in it for me. And when I started to go through infertility and having also been involved in democratic politics and discovered that I had a lifetime max of $10,000 coverage, which in New York City takes about two weeks to go through, I used the skills and the access that I already had to begin talking to legislators about what are we going to do about this, that we need coverage for infertility on the national level, on the federal level. So I think my little folders and I went down to Capitol Hill and I went door to door and talk to legislators about these issues. And eventually Resolve found me.
Dara: You also went into law?
Risa: Yeah, but unfortunately for me, I didn't understand that advocacy is actually a field that one can get paid in, which makes very little sense. But you know, I'm a real estate lawyer. My practice has nothing to do with the volunteer work that I do.
Dara: Oh wow. That's great.
Rena: So can anybody get involved in advocacy?
Risa: Everybody should get involved in advocacy.
Rena: And how does one go about doing that?
Risa: Well, first of all, it's really interesting. Everybody's got little problems or big problems, and everybody thinks that government should fix their problems, but people don't get involved. You can probably stop anybody on the street and they will know who the president is, but they will not know who their city council member is. They will not know who their state legislator is. They probably don't even know who their member of Congress is, which is very sad and which bodes poorly for how we're going to get real change in this country if for everybody's big and little problems. Everybody has access to their legislators. Anybody can call and make an appointment. Anybody can walk into a town hall or a meeting. Their state legislators and their city legislative council members have opened meetings from time to time. They all have offices. They're all listed on websites. You could email them, you can call them and you can make appointments, go talk to them. So the decision to get involved in advocacy starts with the individual – decide you want to do it.
Rena: Sure. I mean, I met you when in Albany advocating on behalf of resolve. And I remember coming back from that, that was my first advocacy trip. And I remember coming back from that saying, wow, that was so easy. I went to Albany, we met with senators with Congress people just like that. And I had no idea you could do it. And it was so empowering and really such an easy experience to do. And I remember even you can, like you said, sit at home, write letters, send them in. It's very easy. But I think a lot of people don't know where to get started. And don't know that we have this amazing access to our government.
Risa: Well, they could start by putting their address into their search bar and say, who are my representatives? And it'll all pop up. Their city, in New York City you have a city council, you have council members. On the state level, you have state senators, which is a larger area and assembly members, which is a smaller area. There's two bodies in Albany. And in Congress we have congressmen and senators, members of Congress. We do have some women, not enough yet, but we're getting there.
Dara: So starting point: find out who is part of our community.
Risa: That's correct.
Rena: So now can you talk to us more about the child-parent security act, which is a very, very important bill that I know you're very involved in. You had this video and you were lobbying in Albany that went viral, which is very exciting. So can we talk some more about that? I think it's so important for everybody to know what that is.
Risa: The child parent security act would reverse the long standing ban on compensated gestational surrogacy in New York.
Rena: Okay. So wait, I'm going to stop you there so everyone can understand. Okay. So compensated gestational surrogacy. Let's tell everybody what is that?
Risa: Okay. So for women who are unable to carry their own child, their own embryos and fetus, they will discover along their infertility path, they may come to the day where their physician says to them, you can't carry for whatever reason.
Dara: Physically carry.
Risa: Physically can’t carry. Either they have an illness or they have a uterine issue, or they have a hormonal issue or some kind of medical condition that makes it impossible for them to carry their own child. At that point in time, they may be really lucky and have a sister or a cousin or a friend who is willing to carry for them. That is a gestational carrier. If they do not have a friend, a sister, a cousin who's willing to do it for them and they need to hire a surrogate who will do that for them that's called compensated gestational surrogacy. And that is not just prohibited in New York, it's actually criminal.
Dara: And, I believe I read it, it's only two states?
Risa: There's only two states where it's criminal in this country.
Dara: How is New York one of them? That’s wild.
Rena: So, and that means you then have to go out of state and then racks up your bill to pay for the travel expenses and everything. But it believe the reason for that is dating back to the baby M case.
Risa: That's correct.
Dara: Let's talk about that.
Risa: The baby M case is what is called traditional surrogacy meaning that the person who was the surrogate was impregnated by the intended father's sperm with her own eggs.
Rena: Right. And that was because the mother in that case, I believe she had MS? Multiple sclerosis?
Risa: She had a condition. Exactly.
Rena: And didn't want to pass that on to the baby so that they wanted to use someone without that.
Risa: So that's called traditional surrogacy where the carrier also has a genetic connection to the fetus that she's carrying. That is no longer done in this country. I mean, it probably is done in some cases by private arrangement. But that is not what we're talking about here. What we're talking about is third party gestational surrogacy. That means that the surrogate, the woman who is carrying has no genetic relationship to the embryo that she's carrying. And it's a third party. It's either the intended mother's egg, or it is a donor egg.
Rena: So she's kind of just the host and carrying the child?
Risa: Correct.
Rena: To pay someone to do this in the state of New York right now is illegal?
Risa: Correct.
Rena: So this bell is working to reverse that, right and legalize compensated, gestational surrogacy?
Risa: And the bill does so much more than that. What it also does is it sets forth all the different relationships. Who's a parent and who's a surrogate. So for example, absent this legislation right now in New York, we have all these questionable situations where even a surrogate who was just a friend who was doing it as a favor to the intended parents for purposes of the hospital, when she gives birth, who's the parent? So the hospitals want to have somebody on the birth certificate and right now you need a court order. What happens if the judge isn’t available? What happens if there's delays in getting that court order? Who's the parent? What happens if the child gets sick? Who's insurance covers the child? What happens if the intended parents break up in the interim? When gay couples let's say one of the partners has contributed their sperm, but the other partner doesn't have a genetic relationship to the baby when it's born and what if they break up, who's the parents? Does the non-biological parent have any rights? All of this creates enormous litigation in New York. And that is the genesis of this legislation. The attorneys who were dealing with a lot of these cases for women got together and said, this is crazy. And they went to their state assembly member and said, we would like to do something about this and assembly member Polin in Westchester, invited these women to author the bill. They've been working on this since 2012, 2013. I think I testified on this bill first for the first time in 2013, to write a bill that would establish the relationships. Who's the parent, who's the child. And that's why it's called the child parent security act so that everybody knows who's responsible and who is simply the carrier.
Dara: So where are we now with this? And where do we see it going? Hopefully some are positive.
Risa: So the issues have been fleshed out pretty carefully. Over the years that this legislation has been working its way through, the attorneys have invited many, many groups, different women's groups, different advocacy groups, parent groups, children's groups, pro-choice groups, to provide comments to the bill and try to protect all the varying interests and all the parties who may be involved. And they have come up with a bill that is state of the art in its protections for the surrogate. It has a surrogate's bill of rights in it that requires that the intended parents pay for insurance, that the intended parents pay for legal representation, that gives the surrogates all kinds of options and total autonomy over her own health and the right to choose her own physicians and attorneys. So there's all these kinds of protections that are in the bill. With these protections, the Senate finally saw fit to pass this legislation, but it's stalled in the assembly and didn't even get to a floor vote because there are some people who are concerned that some of the interests aren’t protected. Governor Cuomo has been fighting really hard for this bill and has put his the weight of his office behind it and has helped us greatly trying to get passage of this bill.
Dara: And just for our listeners that are not in New York, do you know what the second state is that is also…
Risa: Michigan.
Rena: So say I needed to use a gestational surrogate. And I said, okay, Dara, will you be my gestational surrogate? She said, yes.
Dara: I would love to.
Rena: Oh thank you. So now, so now in New York now, so what does that mean? I cannot pay her?
Risa: You can't pay her. You can't even buy her a massage. You can't give her a gift certificate for a massage, it's compensation. You would be charged with a criminal act punishable by a $10,000 fine.
Rena: Yeah would I be fined? Would I go to jail? What would happen?
Rena: You’d get a punishable by $10,000 fine
Dara: In terms of if it's a friend or family member, okay? But if it's someone who does not really…
Risa: It’s called compassionate passionate surrogacy.
Rena: So basically someone right now in the state of New York has to say, yes, I will carry your child. And that's it. No reimbursement. They cover everything. Otherwise you have to go out of state. And then of course there's the additional travel expenses, the headache of going out of state, et cetera.
Risa: Yeah. Loss of work. The emotional, psychological issues. Gay men obviously also need the use of a surrogate and can't become parents with their own biologic connection without a surrogate. But the emotional challenges are very different. The costs are equally challenging, but the emotional connection is different. For a woman to get to the point where she needs a surrogate it usually means that she has gone through fertility treatments, she's had multiple miscarriages, she's had all kinds of losses and invasive treatment and procedures that are painful and frankly, demeaning. I mean, in this room, I think we understand the loss to a woman of realizing that you can't carry your own child.
Rena: And of course, you know, an intangible loss because it's very hard to see that and communicate that, which I think is one of the hardest losses to mourn. You know, how do you tell somebody the loss of sort of what we consider our biological right to carry a child that it’s taken from you. It’s a really, really difficult loss to mourn.
Risa: So then you think, well maybe if I get a surrogate and I can get close to her, I can go to doctor's appointments with her.
Rena: Be part of the journey.
Risa: Be part of it. See the sonograms, feel the kicks, be part of that pregnancy to find out that, Oh, wait, now I got to travel out of state. I can't do that on a daily basis. I can't help her go shopping for vitamins.
Dara: Basic things.
Rena: It’s almost stripping someone of their biological, right to be part of the child's life in utero.
Rena: Right. And then to also be in the delivery room, I mean, we can't predict when.
Rena: Right.
Risa: And it's healthiest for women to go into labor on their own. If you want to be part of that, you got to have a plane ticket ready in case and you gotta be able to get out of work and
Rena: Right. Or what if you already have children at home and need to lineup childcare. I mean, there's so many factors and you know it’s…
Risa: So you might miss the birth. I mean, this is just, what are we doing to women here? That's awful. And of course not to diminish the effects on men who also want to be part of the process too. I mean, they have to be able to jump on a plane or in some cases know that it's the last couple of weeks and they're just going to take a leave of absence and they're going to sit in Wisconsin or whatever state they're in and be there for their surrogate. The beautiful part is, is that intended parents we're seeing have become quite close to their surrogates. They share the emotions with them. They share relationships with them. They share family stories and they want to be there. They want to be supportive to their surrogate and they want to be there and help her along.
Rena: That's lovely. So is there any sort of timeline on getting this bill passed? What do you think? And what can we do to help further this along to really push it through?
Risa: So we are, of course, are already working to meet with legislators who have had issues with the bill, uh, this past year to try and figure out exactly where their fault lines are, to find out what it is they're concerned about, and understand what we can do to make the bill even better if that's possible or educate them about what the bill actually says.
Rena: I guess that makes me question. Okay. So we're one of only two States in the whole country that doesn't allow this. Why?
Risa: Well, a third one doesn't allow it, but it doesn't criminalize it.
Rena: I mean, why is, is it really just because of the baby M case and that set the precedent?
Risa: I think there's a huge if factor with, with third party reproduction that people aren't actually admitting to. Concerns have been raised that New York will become a target of medical tourism, that people will be coming from all over the world to have babies here and that people will be taken advantage of. And there's a concern that women are taken advantage of. But the reality is, is that there are all kinds of steps that a woman who wants to become a surrogate has to go through to make sure that she's emotionally qualified, that she's medically qualified, that she's financially supported so that the concern that women are being taken advantage of is really a spurious concern. It doesn't really have a foundation in reality to the degree or any degree that we have come up with. So, unfortunately, there's a huge educational hurdle to overcome to make people realize that we do not treat women in this state, in this country, who become surrogates as baby machines or anything like that. The family is really do respect them as well as the clinics, the physicians, the attorneys, and everybody along the way. They're recognized as just real angels.
Rena: Well I feel like there’s almost a stigma around surrogacy that it's for wealthy people who don't want to lose their bodies. You know, they'd rather have someone else carry their child because they don't want to lose their figure, gain baby weight or whatever it is. And that's, I'm so glad you brought up how difficult it is to get to the point of saying, I need a surrogate. You know, using a surrogate is not for people that just don't want to gain baby weight, or they don't want to deal with being pregnant. It's people that have gone through so much and can't physically carry a child and it's not some fancy thing. It's difficult. It's so hard to get to that point. And as you said, people that are willing to carry for somebody else are true angels.
Risa: And the funny thing is, is for the people who are concerned about it, being for wealthy people, well, putting up all these barriers to access to this kind of treatment and solution to the problem of having a child makes it the province of wealthy people. I mean, if you're a regular middle class woman who has a job and who, who lives in New York and can't take off to go out of state, the idea that she has to do that and the extra cost involved in doing that means that she may end up not being able to become a mom. So you're reserved, but by making it so difficult that you're reserving and you're reinforcing that it's only for wealthy women. It makes no sense! Or for wealthy couples.
Rena: Right. You're not making it accessible to kind of the ordinary person, right?
Risa: That's the purpose. I mean, that's, we want to make this available. It's still expensive. I'm not going to say it's not expensive. And of course it's helped by the fact that we did pass the fair access to fertility treatment act and that there is help with the IVF part of this for people who want to become parents and need fertility treatment, but it's still costly. But that extra burden of not being able to go out of state means that a lot of regular middle class and lower income women will not have the ability to pursue surrogacy as an option for them. So the very act is creating barriers.
Dara: Rena and myself, we work with a lot of patients. I mean, there's so much stress involved with fertility in general and this is just adding another layer.
Rena: Oh sure. And I think a lot of people don't even consider it as an option because they just think it's not an option because they just think it’s not affordable to them or accessible to them.
Risa: Absolutely.
Rena: Which, I mean, at this point it really isn't. Right. So they just say they get to the point where they're told, okay, you really need a surrogate. They say, well, then I'm going to have to come to term with the fact that I'm not going to be able to have children. And so it just horrible, really horrible. So I wanted to also ask, because I know you're very involved in going up to Albany and you know you mentioned at the beginning this sort of video where you went viral. Do you have any insider stories from your work or New York stories that you can share?
Risa: Well, we can certainly talk about the video. It's really hard to talk about the video in some ways, because Gloria Steinem is every one of our heroes. I mean, I remember being a kid and learning about Gloria Steinem, hearing about Gloria Steinem, seeing her in her bellbottom jeans and her long hair and big glasses. I wanted to be Gloria Steinem. I mean, Gloria Steinem is everything. She made it possible for all of us to work and pursue equality. We're not there yet, but to at least have that vision that someday we might be treated equal. I remember standing with Gloria Steinem in the pit of the Sheraton in 2000 when Hillary was running for president waiting for election results that night. I happened to be standing with her. She's one of my idols. So to discover that she was leading the war against the child parent security act is devastating.
Rena: That must have been your world rocked.
Risa: It's heartbreaking because I think she's wrong. I know she's wrong on so many of the reasons that she's against it. And I wish that I could introduce her to all of these women who serve as surrogates, who have formed these bonds with families to do this miraculous thing that they could do for other people and make the choice. The thing that we fought so hard of, choice over your own bodies to do something that helps other people. So not only is she the person who's against it, but she's the person that other people site well if Gloria Steinem says it, then it must be bad.
Rena: Why is she against it?
Risa: She's talked about disenfranchised women without access to speak, but that's just not accurate. Women have access to speak. Women are being protected. They're not disenfranchised, they're educated women. There are women who are using the payment they receive for surrogacy, for their graduate degrees to further their education, for additional job training, for all kinds of exciting things that expand their life.
Rena: Plus, it's their choice.
Risa: It’s their choice. So I really don't understand it other than the fact that she's hung up on a past idea of what surrogacy was once upon a time, but it's no longer…
Dara: Things have changed.
Risa: And it’s thanks in large part to her advocacy and her leadership. So this builds on everything that she's done. So yeah, I would love to sit down and talk to her about it face to face.
Rena: So, Gloria, if you're listening, you’re welcome on our podcast
Dara: We’d love to have you on.
Risa: I get to talk to Gloria Steinem in person about this! I keep getting confronted with it.
Rena: So in the video, you stood up to Gloria?
Risa: So there was a press conference. I was on stage with Andy Cohen and the governor. And of course, reporters keep asking about, well, if Gloria Steinem says it and Governor Cuomo turned it over to me and I just made the plea: like, Gloria, you're not right. You're reciting an outdated taskforce. The research was started in 1992. The report was issued in 1998. There's a new task force from the same committee in Albany that in 2017 that reverses the findings of the earlier task force so please stop citing that outdated set of work that is no longer the binding authority. So she's just wrong. And it hurts me to say that.
Dara: Good for you for speaking up.
Rena: Oh yeah.
Risa: And she’s still my idol. Let's be clear. She’s still my idol.
Rena: You're just in a little tiff right now. It can be resolved. But yeah, so that video was super powerful. You know, I saw it and it really was so powerful, you know, but for the same reason that you stand up against them and who is your idol and also presenting you believe so strongly about. I'm a huge supporter of the act for all the reasons we talked about today and I love that we're having a dialogue and at least, you know, something like that, that video I think is so brave because you get a dialogue started. And I think that's also what creates change. If people are afraid to stand up, change is never going to happen. And so it's important to say that.
Risa: Especially in New York where we passed marriage equality so long ago already.
Rena: Right so what are doing?
Risa: For gay couples in this state whom surrogacy is really their only option in so many cases, this is the natural next step. They want to become parents. And once upon a time, gay men really had to wrap themselves around the fact that they may not ever get to become fathers. But now we've reached this great place where that dream can become true. And we're finding that the statistics show that the majority, I think it's something like 63% of young men want to become a parent one day. So why shouldn’t they be able to come a parent in New York? We're so progressive in our approach to families, why are we stopping them?
Dara: That's why I was so surprised in terms of one of the two States.
Risa: And then of course from an economic point of view, why are we saying New York clinics don't get to participate in serving our New York constituency? Why are we sending patients out of state to do this? It doesn't make any sense.
Rena: No, it doesn't.
Dara: That’s another good point.
Rena: I mean, I think that the issue is complex. It's complicated. And I'm just sort of sitting here thinking to myself as I’ve shared on the podcast, before I'm divorced and my daughter is almost three, she's an IVF baby. And I don't know if I want more kids, I don't know where my own path and journey is taking me, but it's scary to try and think about embarking on that by myself, you know, financially and without a partner. It’s scary. There's so much that goes into it. And I think no one should ever be denied the right to have a child because they don't have a typical family sutrcture or they’re not wealthy. That's not up to us to decide.
Risa: Some of the most achieving people in this state grew up in very humble beginnings. So why are we saying that only rich people can become parents? This is about access and we have to continue to expand access to all necessary medical treatments, whether it's fertility treatments or whether it's surrogacy, it's access. That's something that New York should stand for.
Rena: So before I wrap, can you tell our listeners, okay, say this and this. They want to get involved? What can they do right now? I would say go to Resolve.org.
Risa: Yes. The resolve.org website. If you go to state advocacy and state legislation, go to New York. There's links to send your legislators. You literally push the button and the fields all populate. You put your zip code, in the fields populate. You can add your individual plea to your legislators about this. You can sign up for email updates through resolve.org. You could make appointments while they're not in session. The legislative session doesn't begin again till next January, so your legislators are in the district now, so call their local offices and you can set up in person appointments on your own or resolve is happy to help you with that. If you want advice and talking points, all the information, it's all on the website, there's a toolkit.
Rena: It’s so easy. That’s how I got involved.
Risa: If you want, I mean, there's info at resolve.org, and we'll be very happy to help you with setting up those appointments or your talking points or preparing you for your meetings. So you can start doing that right now while they're home and listening to their constituents. It's a great time to do that.
Rena: Okay. That’s great. Yeah. And like we said, it's all about access. I've been to Albany. Resolve takes people to DC. It's so easy to get involved and really get in front of these people. I think, as I said, I was so surprised how easy it was to get in front of our government. Anybody can do it. So head over there.
Risa: And it’s a beautiful building.
Rena: Oh it’s a lovely up there. A train ride from New York.
Risa: Yeah the train ride’s even beautiful.
Rena: Amtrak train.
Risa: Exactly.
Dara: So even though we're all just one voice, collectively together, we can really make an impact.
Risa: Well, New York is big state, but it's also a very small state. We were able to pass FAFTA, which we'll talk about in another podcast because people got out and they didn't like their government and they elected new legislators and it changed the dynamic in New York state. We have a government that is very friendly right now to family issues. And it's the time. So people really do need to vote. They need to know who's running. They need to know the issues. They need to stop thinking strictly in terms of party, but also look at what individual people stand for and what they've done in the past when they’re in office and elect the legislators that are gonna carry out the things that are important to you and the agenda that's important to you.
Rena: This has been so great. It’s a treat to have you on.
Dara: So informative.
Rena: Yeah, I guess we like to wrap up with two things. One is, can you tell our listeners, what do you like to do in your spare time when you’re not working on this? I know this take up a lot of time.
Risa: I drink a lot of wine. I like Southern Italian wine that's a little smoky, a little tobacco sometimes from Sicily with a little bit of earth.
Rena: Okay. So Gloria if you’re listening, send Risa some of that to smooth the waters.
Dara: And then the last thing that we always like to do is we like to practice gratitude and share with our listeners what we're grateful at this very moment.
Risa: Well I am truly grateful for all the people who are open to understanding that government works for them and that they do want to get involved. It's amazing. And I'm grateful for women's voices that are becoming stronger and louder and saying no mas. Like, no, you don't get to do this anymore. We want to write our own stories. And so that is a wonderful, brilliant thing to see, because as much as I have really fought for other people, my whole life, I've never really understood that I’m allowed to fight for myself. I thought I needed permission to do that. And I still think that a lot of the time. So I'm grateful for other people to reminding me that I'm allowed to say, I need help. And I'm grateful to the people who offer it.
Rena: I love that.
Dara: What about you Rena?
Rena: Well, I guess, you know, this conversation with Risa, such a powerful woman coming on. And of course speaking that Gloria Steinem has made me really grateful for the world where women are finally getting a voice and finally are fighting for equality. My daughter is almost three and I want her to be raised in a world where she believes she can do anything, she's equal to anybody. And I hope that by the time she gets old enough, she will always feel equal to anybody else and raised in a world where females are empowered. She feels she can speak up about anything. So I'm grateful for women like you Risa, paving the way for that. And really showing people like my daughter, that they can have a voice, they have the power and that also asking for help and being vulnerable is okay.
Dara: You beat me to it. What I'm very grateful for today is for women being able to ask questions and not to feel like we're doing this alone and knowing that there's such a great resources in people like Risa and resolve. To be able to speak up, ask questions, find other people that are like minded and hopefully help our rights. I really do appreciate you being here.
Risa: I really appreciate the invitation. Thank you.
Dara: Thank you so much for listening today. And always remember, practice gratitude. Give a little love to someone else and yourself. And remember, you are not alone. Find us on Instagram @fertility_forward. And if you're looking for more support, visit us at www.rmany.com and tune in next week for more Fertility Forward.

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