Woman Canceling $12K Check to Help Infertile Friend After Her 'Joke' Backed

A post about a woman who revoked an offer to help cover her friend's in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment following a fallout over an "inside joke" has gone viral on Reddit, where it received more than 26,000 upvotes.

In a post shared on Reddit, user South_Marine3167, who is infertile, said her ex-husband divorced her and married someone younger who was able to give him children and now they're expecting their second child together.

Women looking upset on couch.
A stock image of two women looking upset, sitting on a sofa. A post about a woman who canceled a $12,000 check she offered to her friend to help cover her in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment after a "joke" has gone viral on Reddit. iStock/Getty Images Plus

"It hurts like hell seeing someone else have what I couldn't," she wrote, and turned to friends for support, such as her friend Alessia, who is "in the same infertility boat" and trying IVF.

The Redditor wrote: "Alessia asked me for help to pay for her upcoming IVF cycle," so she wrote her check of $12,000 "with no strings attached," and Alessia "was very appreciative of it."

The next day, the user discovered Alessia allegedly told their mutual friend Carol that she hoped the IVF cycle would work because "she didn't wanna end up divorced, and having her husband go marry someone younger and have a baby with them and another one on the way!"

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"Stunned" and "hurt," and assuming Alessia was referring to her, the Redditor called her bank and canceled the $12,000 check. When Alessia found out, she allegedly claimed she "didn't mean it that way" and thought this was an "inside joke" between "desperate infertile women."

Infertility, the failure to get pregnant after a year or more of regular unprotected sex, is a global health issue affecting 186 million people worldwide, according to data from the World Health Organization (WHO).

In the U.S., just under a fifth (19 percent) of heterosexual women aged 15 to 49 years with no prior births are infertile, while 26 percent of the same women have difficulty getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Center for Reproductive Rights based in New York says "limited information, restrictive laws and policies, stigma, high cost, and other barriers" make infertility care, such as IVF, "out of reach for many, especially people from marginalized communities."

The WHO says infertility may occur as a result of factors relating to either women or men or a combination of both, and "may be unexplained."

However, for both women and men, "environmental and lifestyle factors such as smoking, excessive alcohol intake, obesity and exposure to environmental pollutants have been associated with lower fertility rates," according to the global health body.

Fertility expert Dr. Ashley Wiltshire, of the Columbia University Fertility Center in New York City, told Newsweek: "Whenever a third party is involved in infertility treatment—whether it's through financial support or medically via donor egg/embryo/sperm or through acting as a gestational carrier—a contract should always be established so that all parties are on the same page.

"Ethically, when it comes to IVF, there are many concerning situations that can develop without legal guidance, including (but not limited to) ownership of the embryos created from treatment, as well as legal custody of the offspring," Wiltshire added.

Regarding the user in the latest viral Reddit post, Wiltshire said: "I can deeply understand the frustration that the poster felt by her friend's comments, as well as her genuine intention behind providing her friend with financial support for treatment.

"However, I would caution against entering into such agreements without the involvement of a reproductive lawyer because of the innate complexities and the risk of disappointing outcomes to both parties," the fertility expert warned.

The Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys (AAAA) based in Indiana advises that "the legal processes for adoption and assisted reproductive technology (ART) matters are complex," and a reproductive attorney can help you in the following ways, as outlined by the AAAA:

  • Explain and discuss the legal options available to you
  • Help you decide which option is right for you
  • Help you understand your legal rights and obligations
  • Help you think through eventualities you may not have thought of
  • Guide you through the process
  • Be your advocate and protect your legal rights
  • Ensure that all applicable laws, ethical rules and best practices are complied with, so that the end result is legally secure and not subject to challenge

Abbe Feder, fertility expert/coach and the founder of InCircle Fertility (which provides fertility support services), told Newsweek: "Everything about infertility and IVF feels like a slap in the face, and then to have a friend slap you in the face by pulling the money offer is so wrong.

"Clearly the giver hasn't resolved her issues around the split, because she was understandably so easily triggered by the gossip (which I am not condoning). But to use money as a weapon of punishment here is not OK," Feder added.

The user in the Reddit post wrote that Alessia and her husband came over the day after the incident "begging" that the user write another check, but she refused.

The Redditor said: "An argument ensued and her husband thought I wasn't being supportive of her [Alessia] like when she supported me throughout my struggles. She left crying and we haven't talked since then...

"What I've done might just damage our 15 years of friendship. Maybe I shouldn't have canceled it but I just felt so offended by what she said about me and how she basically mocked my unfortunate circumstances," the poster said.

Several users on Reddit shared messages of support for the original poster.

In a comment that received more than 40,000 upvotes, user Tigarana wrote: "It was a cruel thing to do of her. Especially after you are being so gracious towards them..."

"Also: 15 [years] of friendship, but only now is she showing her real face and how she devalues OP [original poster] for not having a child and for her husband having left her," Redditor ReluctantVegetarian commented. "In the words of Maya Angelou, when people show you who they are, believe them."

Redditor needfulsalsa wrote: "May God bless Carol. She saved OP. Years do not mean anything when friends act like this friend and her husband. Trying to guilt trip OP."

Newsweek has contacted the original poster for comment.

Correction: 11/3/22, 8:49 a.m. ET: This article was updated with the correct spelling of the name of Abbe Feder.

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