‘For us it’s a race and we just cannot wait’
Two men, who went on an emotional rollercoaster with their wife in their bid to have children, struggled to contain the anger roused by the bishops’ pastoral letter and what they claim to be the government’s pussyfooting around the Church.
“To make matters worse Cana has come out linking IVF to abortion – it’s madness,” Andrew* said, referring to the Church marriage movement’s statement that wherever IVF was introduced it opened the door to legalising abortion.
Jack* had a similar reaction: “I have so much pent-up anger inside me. The pastoral letter and Cana’s statement are very painful. We’re told children are a gift from God, so are we now saying God discriminates?”
The two men spoke on condition of anonymity to protect their families from being unfairly labelled and because they felt infertility was a personal matter.
Jack, 42, and his wife, 40, got married six years ago and immediately started trying to have a baby.
Two years of trying failed to bring the bundle of joy they so wanted and so they started undergoing fertility treatments.
IVF, which they plan to attempt in the coming weeks, is the last resort in a journey that has been psychologically and emotionally exhausting.
“We’re not in our 30s. For us it’s a race and we cannot wait until medical advances increase the success rate of egg freezing,” he said.
The couple believe the proposed law is “unfair and humiliating” because it shuts the door on embryo freezing and takes away the choice of how many eggs should be fertilised from parents and doctors.
While voicing his admiration for theologian Fr Rene Camilleri’s bold decision to stand up against the bishops’ pastoral letter, he referred to the late Fr Peter Serracino Inglott’s position on this subject.
In March 2011, when he was taking part in a discussion on IVF, the professor of philosophy had said freezing embryos was “not wrong” in itself and felt the government should not be looking at the Church’s stand on this but focusing on its impact on society.
He had said: “Freezing per se cannot be considered to be a way of killing the embryo since it is keeping it alive. It is wrong only when freezing is done with an ulterior motive to destroy the embryo.”
Jack said he was convinced of the path he had chosen with his wife and urged the Church and State to function separately for the country’s well-being.
Andrew, 40, echoed a similar sentiment and said the Church’s words were hurtful.
He also lamented Labour’s silence on the matter and the government’s attempts not to offend the Church.
Contrary to Jack, Andrew and his 35-year-old wife already have two children – aged 10 and two – who were both born using IVF and the happiness they brought to his house was immeasurable.
“Infertility is like any other health problem – using IVF is a way of treating it. So if somebody is ill should they reject the medical advances that can save them?” he asked.
Andrew’s first child was born after the first IVF attempt, but it took sheer determination, thousands of euros, and nine other IVF attempts for his youngest to be born.
“Infertility was not a choice. IVF gave us hope. I’m all in favour of legislating but don’t steal our only chance at happiness.”
* Names have been changed to protect the persons’ identity.