“Get Britain Fertile”: UK fertility campaign faces criticism

A new fertility campaign – Get Britain Fertile – has recently been launched in the UK with the help of campaign ambassadors Dr. Zita West, a reproductive health specialist, and media personality Kate Garraway. The campaign is being funding by First Response – a company that offers a range of home fertility testing kits. According to West, “The campaign’s aim is to educate couples on how to prepare for conception and take care of their bodies with up to date practical information.” Having had her two children at the age of 38 and 42 and now struggling to have her third child at 46, Garraway’s mission is to encourage women to think about their fertility earlier in their lives. Says Garraway, “I want to alert women to start thinking about their fertility at a younger age than our generation did. They should get prepared and make informed choices early so there is no chance of sleepwalking into infertility.”

Despite these laudable public education goals, the campaign has been met with substantial criticism. To advertise the campaign, 46 year old Garraway recently posed as a 70 year old pregnant woman, reportedly “to shock women and make them reconsider delaying childbearing.” Critics have charged that the advertisement and the campaign is “misogynistic,” “naïve,” and “patronising.” Garraway has been criticized as being privileged and hypocritical in telling women that they should have their children earlier or freeze their eggs if they aren’t ready to have children in their 20s or early 30s. It has been suggested that the campaign shames women who, by choice or circumstances (e.g., infertility, lack of an appropriate and willing partner, etc.) have children later in life, or who don’t pursue motherhood at all. Others suggest that the campaign advocates for traditional gender roles, and unfairly targets women by putting the onus on women – not their partners – to take responsibility for making childbearing decisions. Says, Aviva Shen of Think Progress: 

“First Response has decided the solution to the trend of women waiting longer to have children is to criticize them, prey on their fears of aging, and exploit social disgust for even moderately sexual old women.”

Shen and others also feel the Get Britain Fertile campaign fails to account for the very real and legitimate economic, social and personal reasons why many women delay childbearing – finishing their education, establishing a career, not having found an appropriate partner with whom to parent, and not being able to afford to support a child or freeze their eggs.

To read more about the Get Britain Fertile campaign, click here and here.


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