Critics call radio station's 'Win a Baby' contest exploitative
Hot 89.9's "Win a Baby" contest has raised awareness over in vitro fertility in Ontario, Canada, some say.
October 12th, 2011
08:09 AM ET

Critics call radio station's 'Win a Baby' contest exploitative

A radio station promotion that awarded five couples in vitro fertility treatments Tuesday as part of a “Win a Baby” contest has drawn the ire of Canadians on both sides of the issue.

Hundreds entered the contest held by Ottawa station Hot 89.9 for a chance to win a round of IVF treatments. After several weeks of having hopefuls campaign and write essays on why they should be chosen, the station whittled the competition down to five couples.

Hot 89.9 assembled the families in a room Tuesday, as posted on the station's website, and announced the award after a tense setup. “You’re all getting up to three fertility treatments. Congratulations!” radio host Jeff Mauler said as loud sobs from the women can be heard in the background.

“There's not a dry eye in the house,” Mauler said.  "A lot of hugs and a lot of tears," he said describing the emotional scene in the room. “Once again with 'Win a Baby' all five of our finalists are getting three fertility treatments, up to three fertility treatments, and hopefully having their dreams come true.”

The contest has touched a political vein in Ontario, where residents - unlike their neighbors in Quebec   - don't get government-funded IVF coverage. In July 2010, Quebec became the first jurisdiction in North America to fund IVF. Last month a Canadian survey showed that 75% of Ontario residents supported health insurance coverage for in-vitro fertilization treatments.

Despite the political sentiment, some say the contest crossed a line, playing on the emotions of women who want to have children.

“The station is clearly, clearly capitalizing on vulnerable patients that are desperate to have a family,” Beverly Hanck, executive director of the Infertility Awareness Association of Canada, told the Toronto Star newspaper.

She said the contest also should not be construed as actually giving the couples a baby, labeling it "false advertising, as IVF treatments can fail," the Star reported.

Toronto fertility counselor Jan Silverman called the contest "commodification of babies, turning babies into products," according to the Guardian newspaper.

The radio station has defended the contest. “Our goal was to help out those people who don’t have the money that really wanted a child desperately,” Mauler told the Star.

From video that the station posted on its website, Tracy Broad, who won the IVF treatment with her husband Nathan, is heard thanking the public and the radio station for the chance to be a parent.

“Words cannot describe how happy I am right now and how grateful I am for all the support and the love that we received. And it’s my 30th birthday today," she said to cheers from the other families.

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soundoff (137 Responses)
  1. Matt

    They don't have money for the treatments, so how are they going to have money to support the child?

    October 12, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Julie

      Matt, my husband and I could never afford 35 000$ for IVF but we have no problem "affording" our almost 1 yr old (conceived naturally). Just because someone can't afford a huge pricetag for medical expenses, doesn't mean they can't afford the monthly "cost" of a child (especially when you consider breastfeeding and cloth diapering saves you loads, and we don't have high medical bills here thanks to out health care system). My baby really doesn't cost me that much....

      October 12, 2011 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pete

      I agree with Matt. If you can't afford IVF it may not be the right time to have a baby. It costs much more than $35000 to raise a child.

      October 12, 2011 at 9:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • jenD

      are you serious?? we are raising three children (quite successfully i might add....) and they are well taken care of. but there is no way we could have afforded $35,000+ for IVG. That a ridiculous, ignorant and insensitive thing to say.

      October 12, 2011 at 10:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marie

      If you needed to have $35,000 on hand in order to determine that you can support a child, there will be many childless couples in the world. It does take more than $35,000 to raise a child, but bear in mind the money is spent over years, not expected up front like these procedure costs. Parents scrimp and save to make sure their children's needs are met. My mother didn't have much, and barely made ends meet but she raised us up, kept us well fed, and made sure that our school fees were paid on time. I am very sure she must have spent a few times over that amount in all these years. But if you expect all couples to have the money first before they should be allowed to have kids, they will probably be too old to have kids naturally by then and will blow all that savings on these procedures.

      October 13, 2011 at 1:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Ryan

      Matt – someone else made the comment that I am about to make. There is a big difference in paying to have IVF and raising a child. Even with insurance you still have to pay some out of pocket for the procedure. Raising a kid you can at least budget. We have to wonderful children and want more, and IVF may have to be an option for us, but we know that my insurance (through the mlitary) won't pay for all of it, but we will find a way, if it comes to it.

      October 13, 2011 at 5:58 am | Report abuse |
  2. nipalitchs

    pew research? are connected to stank clinics

    October 12, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Susan

    On one hand it comes off as a publicity stunt. On the other hand, the radio station made the impossible possible for 5 couples. I have not had fertility issues and cannot even imagine what it's like to hope/pray/try and be disappointed month after month. The radio station gave these couples a gift, even if the treatments don't work.

    October 12, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Whaaat???

      It is impossible to make the impossible possible.

      October 13, 2011 at 9:33 am | Report abuse |
  4. AndyTheGameInventor

    At the end of the day what this radio station did was to give away money – although the cash was not handed to the winners, and the station probably paid less cash (or nothing) in exchange for publicity for thr IVF center. I can't say that they "played on the emotions" of these women because nothing really was aked of them other than the essay – it's not as if the couples were being asked to buy a product. Of course if the 3 free treatments don't work, some of these couples might choose to purchase more treatments, at which point there is more of a question of playing on their emotions. And as far as "win a baby" is concerned, I think everyone who purchases IVF services is aware that there is a certain percentage of success.

    October 12, 2011 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse |
  5. mmi16

    Congrats to the radio station for the opportunity they have give 5 childless couples.

    October 13, 2011 at 4:09 am | Report abuse |
  6. Turtle

    Adoptions should be easier and cheaper to come by than IVF treatments. There are far too many children in the world who desperately need a family.

    October 13, 2011 at 7:42 am | Report abuse |
  7. cankitkat

    In my opinion what the station did was provide the financial ability to possibly start a family. As a woman with infterility issues, and someone who was looking into the possibility of adopting and fertility treatments, I think it's a wonderful thing to provide the funding for these couples. I am actually disgusted at some of the remarks, such as "more humans just what we need" etc. I totally support adoption as I believe there are so many unfortunate children who need a great loving home, but at the same time, I have waited all my adult life (now mid-30's) to feel those kicks, see the growing belly and have the experience of birthing a child. As a resident of Ottawa, and listener of Hot 89.9 I am thrilled that they took this "risk" and I live in a city/Country that isn't afraid to bring difficult topics to the table. Congratulations to all the families, and I hope your dreams come true!

    October 13, 2011 at 8:06 am | Report abuse |
  8. anahadwolves

    It's a CONTEST! In a contest, not everyone wins the top prize. There are losers in every contest. The fact that the radio station awarded FIVE top prizes is great. If top prize had been a year's supply of watermelon, would those who didn't win still be whining so loudly?

    Folks, there was no harm and no foul here. The only "loser" was the Province of Ontario who was made to look like the cheap bast*rds they are by not funding IVF treatment like their neighbors in Quebec do. Stop whining about NOTHING.

    October 13, 2011 at 8:08 am | Report abuse |
  9. Kelly

    I thought the lady who ran the Chicago Marathon won a baby. Is this a copycat promotion?

    October 13, 2011 at 8:15 am | Report abuse |
    • AllenS

      That was funny

      October 13, 2011 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Theresa B

      that woman ran the marathon pregnant and went into labour after she crossed the finish line.

      October 13, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Nicole

    The people who are upset about this are IDIOTS. What is so wrong about giving a group of couples a chance to have a baby??? I swear our world had become so caught up in stupid issues its so sad. People just look for any reason to complain.

    October 13, 2011 at 8:43 am | Report abuse |
  11. anon

    its nice to know that we (Americans) aren't the only nation that gets angry about trivial things that don't matter.

    October 13, 2011 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
  12. Theresa B

    how can making "babies" become a commodity? the radio station paid for all the treatments and the couples pay nothing. There is nothing wrong with this contest, i'll have to admit that they should have reworded their solgan because they implied that a couple would win a baby, already arrived into this world. But im happy for all those couples and hopefully they get what they wished for

    October 13, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Sarah

    I'm from Ottawa, and this is the station I listen to. Everyone I know think it was an awesome idea, and I couldn't be happier for the winning couples!

    October 13, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
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