When attorney Rose Pondel, founder of Santa Monica’s Family Formation Law Center, was interviewed by ABC’s “Good Morning America” for a story about fertility after age 35, she thought she’d be cited as an expert source.

After all, Pondel helps clients navigate complicated family-planning issues such as surrogacy and egg donation.

Pondel, who also happened to be eight months pregnant at the time, spent more than an hour with a reporter, talking about case law, fertility issues and clients who have spent months or years trying to get pregnant.

But in the televised segment, which ran in June, her professional qualifications never came up; she was identified only as a 33-year-old pregnant woman. She was quoted saying little more than that she had heard it’s harder to get pregnant after 35.

“The funny thing is, not only did they not even mention I’m a lawyer and have some knowledge in this field, I didn’t even fit the profile of women they were talking about,” Pondel said. “I was 32 when I got pregnant. I thought, if I were watching this, why would I care?”

So what would Pondel, now mother of 5-week-old Benjamin, liked to have said on the air? That while some women can get pregnant later in life, many can’t. And it’s good to know that upfront.

“There are countless and reliable studies that show us fertility does decline,” she said. “The reality is it’s true for a lot of people. It would be nice to make this less taboo.”

Too Close to Home

Veteran publicist and beach dweller Michael Levine remembers vividly the night last month when a hit-and-run on the Venice boardwalk killed a tourist and injured many others.

Not only does he live six blocks from the crime site, but he’s given pro bono PR advice to the public defender representing the suspect.

Levine, 59, was sitting at his home in Santa Monica at about 7 p.m. on Aug. 3 when he heard helicopters circling.

“I didn’t know what was going on except I heard massive ‘Apocalypse Now’ sounds as I was sitting at my home right at the water’s edge,” he recalled.

Levine tuned in to KNX-AM (1070) and heard the news.

Not long after, he got a call from his travel agent, an acquaintance of public defender Philip Dube, asking if Levine would be willing to lend his friend some PR advice.

Levine agreed, but said he’s had some misgivings.

“But by the grace of God that (victim) could be me,” he said. “I had complex feelings. On the other hand, you have a professional responsibility.”

Staff reporters James Rufus Koren and Jonathan Polakoff contributed to this column. Page 3 is compiled by editor Charles Crumpley. He can be reached at ccrumpley@labusinessjournal.com.

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