This article is very simply dedicated to all the women and men of Malta and Gozo (and their concerned and caring families) who have experienced any difficulties having children, as well as all those who have tried IVF and all the treatments available. Some have been successful, others perhaps not, or not yet. All of these people deserve our full respect, in words and in deeds. They have had no voice in the IVF debate as yet and this imbalance needs to be addressed.
While one of the most stifling summers many of us can remember continues to rage, a row of similarly stifling proportions is brewing over attempts to introduce some regulation in the area of IVF.
So let's be clear from the outset. IVF already, (thanks to excellent practitioners) flourishes in Malta and is not about to be introduced as overheated bloggers on newspaper comment boards seem to be implying.
There is, or there should be no real debate about whether it should or should not be practised. It has been practised in Malta for quite a few years in the paying private sector, and apparently we now have a very high success rate. So most of the alarmist talk by some on the Times blogging platform is unjustified.
It is not yet though being offered for free by the State and this is perhaps why the debate has ignited in this way.
The background to why IVF is so essential is important too.
In our parents' time many were married by twenty and literally had their first baby nine months later. Life has changed. Young couples marry or move in together and start trying to have children much later in life. Thirty is becoming the new average age to have children. Many couples prefer to be more settled in their respective careers as well as having a pretty well finished home to move into. So more and more people are very naturally facing more challenges in having children, not only because of the stresses of modern life, but simply because people are choosing (some say they have no choice) to start families later. Some projections in the UK have indicated that in the future if trends continue as they are, fertility challenges could affect as many as one in three couples.
Now some members of the Church may raise their hands in exasperation. Some might wish for their perceived good old days. But we are where we are and we cannot turn the clock back.
Newspapers have been important to the debate this summer and yet, it is significant that those who have needed IVF, those who are having treatment now and those who will need it in the future are silent. Thousands of silent people.
So this article is very simply dedicated to all those men and women who cannot or do not want to express their hurt, their pain their frustration, and in the case of the lucky ones, their huge relief that IVF helped them and they look on their children with the most enormous love and pride as is their right.
Some members of the Church as well as a significant proportion of apparently older male bloggers appear to be contradicting what they have told us all our lives. When we were at school many of us were taught by our Religion teacher that the purpose of Catholic marriage was children. Many of us debated, disagreed and argued that point. Yet today some of the same exponents seem to be disputing that. Snide remarks about having children not being a right, equations with abortion and other ridiculous permutations have literally littered some discussion boards and enough really is enough.
So please. Whether you are blogging or penning opinion pieces please do stop putting people who are trying to have children alongside arguments about abortion. Stop filling people with fear and embarrassment. It is unnecessary. It is disingenuous. It is disgraceful.
We hope this modest contribution will put the discussion firmly back where it should lie. A discussion on how to regulate IVF without putting the fear of God into the families who need it (without facing the stigma or shame of committees to approve you for treatment). Maltese society deserves and must have in the end a sensible and humane law to regulate IVF.
Anything less would be a shameful travesty of all the things which are the best things about Maltese society. Our capacity to be generous and help others. Our capacity to be one nation despite so many differences. Our capacity to love our children, and to show the utmost respect and deference to all the people of goodwill in Malta and Gozo who want to have children using IVF if they need to.
That respect for all the mums and dads, and mums and dads to be in Malta and Gozo, has been clearly lacking in some of the contributions from certain quarters to date.