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In A Major Win, The Victorian Government Will Restart IVF Procedures

An online petition garnered more than 135,000 signatures as women reiterated that IVF is not "elective".

This week, a number of brave Australian women shared their personal stories of the complexities of undergoing IVF, and more than 135,000 people signed a petition in support of them. It was enough.

On January 20, the Victorian Government announced that it had reversed its decision to suspend all new IVF treatments as part of its code brown alert. The government had previously deemed IVF procedures as “non-urgent elective”, meaning it would be discontinued in order to “to free up more health resources” for 90 days. The move was in response to the influx of patients who have been infected with omicron.

In a video that went viral this week, Victorian woman Melanie Swieconek pleaded through tears that at age 45, IVF is her last hope at having a child. 

“I really want to let you know this is not something I elected to do,” she said in the emotional clip. 

“Not one other person who is going through IVF or has been through IVF or is just about to start IVF has elected to do it. This is something we are doing as our only opportunity to have a child… To just put a blanket ban on IVF for three months… you can’t have any idea what this will do to some women.” 

She wasn’t alone in her battle—an online petition calling for the Daniel Andrews government to reinstate IVF procedures garnered more than 135,000 signatures online. 

IVF is NOT a choice. Politicians should NOT be allowed to decide on the timing of anyones reproduction,” the petition description read. 

“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. The decision is potentially taking away peoples chances of ever having a family and totally changing the trajectory of their lives.”

The creator of the petition, whose username is @Our_infertile_life Victoria, also said that there are many private clinics which can continue to practice IVF without any stress or strain on medical resources.

Another Victorian woman Maddison Sullivan-Thorpe, who has previously undergone IVF, also put the realities of the government’s decision in her own context with a powerful Instagram post

“This is not elective. This is heartache, this is life changing trauma that leaves you irretrievably broken,” she penned.

“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.”

Speaking to marie claire Australia, she added: “IVF is never a choice, it’s a last resort. Whether you’re there for low ovarian count like me or because you’ve spent months/years trying to conceive – IVF days feel like dog years, they’re long and slow and each month and cycle feels like an eternity.” 

She added that the 90 day suspension was “90 days too long for many couples”.

“The mental and physical preparation women endure to be able to start their cycle is immense and I cannot imagine the anguish women and couples are facing right now as they’re cancelled mid cycle or waiting, holding their breath for the 90 days to be over.”

(Credit: Instagram / @maddisonsullivanhunter)

To add, Victoria’s state-wide code brown, called on January 18 by Acting Health Minister James Merlino, is not connected to IVF work (per 7News), meaning the deployment of staff to priority areas would not include those overseeing those fertility treatments. 

Speaking to media at the time, Merlino said the government was “looking at what we can do” to reinstate IVF procedures as soon as possible. 

“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,” he told media.

“This is in many cases a last opportunity to create a family for themselves and I am absolutely empathetic.”

Thankfully, the outpouring of support for women hoping and currently undergoing IVF has worked. Namely, it’s thanks to women like Melanie and Maddison who have bravely shared their stories in order to spread awareness—we commend them for it. 

Lead image: Instagram / @maddisonsullivanhunter

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