Victoria’s devastating halt on ‘elective’ IVF treatments has ended

In order to free up more health resources during the current Omicron wave of COVID-19, Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley last week announced that IVF clinics must cancel their appointments for 90 days.

Thanks to the 139,000+ people who came together to fight this by signing a petition, the Acting Minister for Health, James Merlino, announced yesterday that IVF procedures can resume. The joy and relief for many Victorians is immeasurable.

Why was the decision on IVF procedures reversed?

Those trying to conceive were understandably devastated by the news of the recent arbitrary ban. IVF treatments should not be considered elective. Whilst he respected the decision of the Victorian government, this is also the stance of Prime Minister Scott Morrison: “There’s no choice involved in infertility treatment. It’s not an elective procedure in my view that should be subject to these things”.

One woman posted a heartbreaking plea on Instagram, sobbing during her emotional video as she addressed Foley and Victorian Premier Dan Andrews.

“This is something we are doing as our only opportunity to have a child”, Melanie said. “We have tried everything else. This is something that is a necessity, and you are taking that away from us”.

“You don’t know what this will do to some women”, she continued.

“To put a blanket ban on IVF for 3 months…we think COVID-19 is a pandemic, infertility is a pandemic, and now we’re dealing with both. Our bodies cannot be paused”, she said.

Melanie’s plea was viewed over half a million times and received widespread support, including from IVF professionals who agree that this ban was hurtful and unnecessary. Melbourne fertility and IVF specialist Dr Joseph Sgroi wrote, “When Governments act without consultation they lose sight of what’s important…we well [sic] continue to lobby”.

Founder of IVF support group, The Amber Network, Alice Almeida, recently declared that this appalling decision could be taking away the last chance to have a baby for Victorians who desperately want to become parents.

She added, “IVF procedures do NOT take up valuable hospital beds OR staff so this rule frees up nothing, it’s just ruining peoples’ lives.”

When will IVF procedures resume?

The government announced on Thursday IVF procedures will resume in Victoria, following a campaign by advocates including Ms Swieconek, to reverse its decision.

Some services will restart from Thursday, with hospitals scaling up their operations to enable procedures to resume from 11.59pm on Tuesday, January 25.

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