The Victorian Government has announced that IVF procedures which had been suspended, are set to resume after a huge public outcry.
Victorian woman Melanie made a heartbreaking plea earlier this week for the Victorian government to resume IVF treatments, after they were paused to free up health resources.
Elective surgery in Victoria was suspended in Victoria on January 6, to help hospitals respond to an increasing number of Covid patients. Health Minister Martin Foley said IVF clinics were contacted by authorities and asked to cancel appointments – in a move that was set to last for 90 days.
IVF procedures to resume
However, this morning, on advice from the Chief Health Officer, the move has been reversed. Some services will restart today, with hospitals scaling up operations to enable procedures to restart from 11.59pm on Tuesday, 25 January.
Acting Health Minister James Merlino apologised for the distress the initial decision caused.
“IVF is a challenging journey for anyone to go through, let alone in the midst of a global pandemic, and we’re deeply sorry for the distress caused by affected services in recent weeks,” Mr Merlino said.
The reversal comes after public backlash, led by women currently undergoing IVF. Victorian woman Melanie took to Instagram with a gut-wrenching personal plea to Mr Foley and Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, begging them to reconsider.
“You have both made a decision that is greatly affecting not only myself but so many women around Victoria, and I can’t even fathom how you came to the decision you did,” she said through tears.
“And I thought maybe it’s because you’ve never actually met someone who is going through IVF so, my name is Melanie and I’m currently going through the IVF process and I really just wanted to let you know that this is something that not I elected to do, and not one other person who is going through IVF, or who has been through IVF, or who’s just about to start IVF has elected to do. This is something we are doing as our only opportunity to have a child.”
She urged the Premier and Health Minister to consult experts about women ‘pausing their bodies for 90 days’.
“We have tried everything else. Trust me. We have tried everything else. This is something that is a necessity. And you are taking it away from us. Some of us may only have one or two more opportunities to have children. And by opportunities I mean months. And to put a blanket ban on IVF for three months … you can’t have any idea what this will do to some women.
“We think Covid’s a pandemic. I’m telling you, infertility is a pandemic. And now we’re dealing with both.”
The Victorian government said in a statement, the CHO provided advice to the Acting Minister for Health that, ‘the restrictions on IVF procedures can be removed – as the specialist nature of the workforce and the facilities and equipment used are not imperative to support the pandemic response at this time’.
The Department of Health is working with the Royal Women’s Hospital to prioritise urgent patients.
‘While the IVF restrictions were in place, services were still available to those who needed to complete a treatment cycle they had started prior to 6 January 2022 or those who required future IVF procedure due to health treatment that would render their eggs non-viable.
‘Further advice is being sought from the Health Response Centre about other services that may be able to be restored without a critical impact on our current hospital workforce capacity.’
‘This is a beast’
Her impassioned plea was echoed throughout Victoria and resonated with many other women also having to put their dreams of becoming mothers on hold. Maddison Sullivan-Thorpe also took to social media to chastise the move.
“This is not elective. This is heartache, this is life changing trauma that leaves you irretrievably broken,” she wrote on Instagram. “This is a beast that makes you resent your body, leaves your relationship hanging by a thread, fractures friendships and leaves you feeling achingly alone and filled with a whole new world of loathing every time you feel self pity upon hearing of someone else’s joys.
“No one wants to do this, this is no one’s first choice – this will forever be a last resort and now @danielandrewsmp you have gone and ripped the last string of hope so many women and couples cling so desperately onto.”
It prompted the creation of a change.org petition, calling for IVF treatment to be reinstated.
On Tuesday, Acting Victorian Health Minister James Merlino called a state-wide code brown for all metro hospital and six regional hospitals, to deal with the rising number of Covid cases. He said the emergency code wasn’t related to IVF.
“I’ve got some dear friends currently going through IVF or have been through IVF,” Mr Merlino said. “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.”
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