Victorian health authorities have announced that IVF services will resume “as quickly as possible,” following widespread backlash at the decision to pause fertility treatments as the state grapples with the recent Omicron wave of COVID-19.
The temporary pause, which was announced on January 6, was put in place to free up hospital resources and Health Minister Martin Foley said IVF clinics were being contacted and asked to cancel their appointments.
The news was heartbreaking to many people who must rely on fertility treatments in order to become parents and those most affected quickly made their voices heard.
Melanie Swieconek was one such hopeful parent who posted an emotional plea to social media, telling the government to understand that “our bodies cannot be paused for 90 days.”
Explaining that 90 days could mean the difference between becoming a parent and never realising that dream, Swieconek said, “To put a blanket ban on IVF for three months … we think COVID is a pandemic, infertility is a pandemic, and now we’re dealing with both.”
So, turns out IVF has been scrapped for 3 months in Victoria as well. This video is heartbreaking to watch.https://t.co/ybLlIrVlfG
— Adam Hill (@adamhillmedia) January 17, 2022
A petition also circulated on change.org, generating code to 140,000 signatures (so far) demanded that Victorian Premier Dan Andrews immediately reinstated the services.
“Experiencing infertility is considered as stressful as a cancer diagnosis, loss of a family member or going through a divorce,” the petition explains.
“Women in their late 30s/early 40s (or those with low ovarian reserve) do NOT have time to wait to start their family, as their egg quality declines with each passing cycle,” it continues. “IVF is NOT a choice. Politicians should NOT be allowed to decide on the timing of anyone’s reproduction.”
The reinstating of fertility procedures will not be affected by the code brown that was put upon metropolitan hospitals on January 18th by Acting Health Minister James Merlino. The code is expected to last four to six weeks.
Merlino said that work was being done to resume IVF services as quickly as possible, saying, “I’ve got some dear friends currently going through IVF or have been through IVF. I know what an emotional toll it is what a financial toll it is.
“This is in many cases, a last opportunity to create a family for themselves and I am absolutely empathetic. The moment we can boost or return to services for IVF patients we will absolutely do so and we’re looking at what we can do right now.”