Daniel Andrews responds to backlash over pausing IVF treatments in Victoria
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has apologised to distraught hopeful parents after a blanket ban on IVF procedures in the state led to widespread backlash.
The Victorian government placed a ban on the procedures due to the escalating Covid outbreak in the state.
The move prompted an emotional plea from Melbourne woman, Melanie Swieconek, who begged the state’s leaders to bring back the service in a video that has since gone viral.
Amid the backlash, Mr Andrews acknowledged it was a “deeply distressing and very difficult” time for those unable to access the procedure during the pandemic.
“I’m sorry these services have been impacted by the global pandemic, I’m sorry so many services across the board have been impacted – I’ve heard so many stories from so many people and I know and understand just how challenging this journey is,” he said.
“I want to assure everyone who is impacted by this that we’re working as hard as we can to get day procedures back up and running.”
Appearing on the Today Show on Wednesday, Ms Swieconek said she had been left distraught by the government’s decision.
“When I heard the news on Friday night about IVF procedures being paused, I didn‘t sleep,” she told the program.
“The (video) was me just thinking, ‘I need to get this message out there because I don’t think anyone knows about this.’ I was sitting down to actually write a very stern email and it ended up being what I filmed instead.
“So, yeah, that was pretty raw.”
Hours after announcing a ban on all non-urgent elective surgery on January 6, Health Minister Martin Foley told reporters that IVF clinics were being contacted by authorities and asked to cancel their appointments with clients in an effort to free up more health resources.
In the days since, multiple providers have warned that the protocols – which came into effect on January 12 and are set to last 90 days, until April 12 – will disrupt some couples’ procedures.
The decision sparked immediate backlash online, with Ms Swieconek posting the tearful video to her account.
“You can’t have any idea what this will do to some women,” she said, claiming the 90-day ban would mean the end of some people’s hopes to have a child.
“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.
She revealed she was 45 and will be ineligible for treatment when she turns 46 in October.
“So to have three months just stolen from me, and that‘s how I feel it is, is – I still don’t have any words,” she said.
Prime Minister Scott Morison is at odds with Mr Andrews on the issue.
Mr Morrison said it remained his view that IVF should not be considered an elective procedure.
“Earlier on in the pandemic, we exempted IVF treatments as being elective procedures,” he told reporters on Tuesday.
“It’s not an elective procedure, in my view, that should be subject to these things.
“I respect the fact that these are decisions of the Victorian government. I respect that, it’s not a decision the Commonwealth can make.
“I appreciate the extreme pressure the Victorian health system is under … But earlier on at national cabinet, we said that IVF treatments were not elective procedures and should continue, and I believe that should be done wherever possible and that should be such a last resort measure, if any resort measure, in my view.”
Melbourne fertility specialist Dr Lynn Burmeister told Sunrise her clinic had been inundated calls from hopeful parents since the news.
“We’ve had thousands and thousands of phone calls this week and I’m sure the other IVF clinics as well, of very distraught women, and men, that, you know, that have to put their baby making on hold because they can’t do it naturally,” she said.
She said it didn’t make any sense to have a ban on the procedure.
“IVF are very short procedures. We take up the room for 20 to 30 minutes. The needle we use are not used to resuscitate Covid patients. The patients are using very limited resources in the hospital. “
Originally published as Daniel Andrews responds to backlash over pausing IVF treatments in Victoria
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