We’ve all been there: expressing opinions which we are of course entitled to, but which will not change the facts. Ranging from football banter to discussions on the course of history, the universe, and religion to mention but a few. We, myself included, still find this sharing of opinions interesting – no harm in that whatsoever.
Which brings me to the subject. There’s a fine line between ‘useless’ opinions, and ‘harmful’ ones, and I will be focusing on the impact these have on a very sensitive subject for many: parenthood.
Recently, like several others, I was shaken to hear that a husband and a father-to-be, Ivan Barbara, flew to India in the midst of a global pandemic together with his wife to adopt their daughter, and tragically ended up contracting COVID-19, which ultimately led to his passing.
Destiny can indeed be cruel, and it poses questions which at times are best kept unanswered. Whilst numerous individuals expressed their dismay and shock, a few others felt they were entitled to express their ‘useless opinion’, on social media no less, on the risks of travelling during a pandemic. In this case, their opinion was a harmful one too.
Is it so difficult to be empathic in such tragic circumstances?
Many of those who commented are also parents who had no infertility issues and yet they felt entitled to judge the actions of those who possibly have been longing to become parents for years, even decades. Insensitivity, in such circumstances, is an understatement.
Which leads me to IVF. For many years this subject was a no-go area. Hundreds, if not thousands, of couples were left venturing entirely on their own by the State. On those rare occurrences when the subject was on the government’s agenda, it was quashed by the usual suspects on the basis of ‘morals’ and ‘ethics’, with a hint of religious innuendos which used to impress a higher number of people a decade or so ago.
Once opened, Mater Dei Hospital was equipped with the necessary equipment to perform IVF, only to be left to rot due to lack of legislation by previous administrations. Eventually, as promised, a Labour Government introduced the law leading to hundreds of parents to hold their child in their hands, parents becoming grandparents, glittering eyes, tears, and love. A whole new life was now ahead of them.
Similar to other medical services and procedures, the national health service provides an excellent IVF service to the public. As announced by Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne a few days ago, 215 children were born since IVF started being provided in Mater Dei. Just last year, 180 IVF cycles were performed, with 12 children born, and 17 others being awaited by their parents.
However – our legal framework still leaves a significant number of aspiring parents in limbo. The current restrictive legislation forces a considerable number of couples to seek services overseas.
As usual, once this debate starts the abortion card will be thrown around loosely similarly to what happened a couple of years ago. Scaremongering takes the center stage by the usual opposing forces.
Taking myself as an example. I am a father to a 1-year-old daughter. I didn’t experience the ordeal these couples go through. How can I ever, by the stretch of any possible argument oppose the needed changes which science provides for fellow couples to become parents? How can I be so insensitive to others? If we stop and think more often, we’d have less ‘useless and harmful’ opinions, which intentionally or not, are very hurtful to those affected by infertility.
How can I ever, by the stretch of any possible argument oppose the needed changes which science provides for fellow couples to become parents? How can I be so insensitive to others?
In my case – I advocate in favour of all the necessary changes to the legislation to allow each and every couple to get their best shot at parenthood by means of the scientific means at our disposal nowadays.
This Sunday we celebrate Mother’s Day, with thousands – yes, thousands – 1 in 5 – men and women affected by infertility. Next time you’re in a room with 5 other people, keep in mind there’s a high probability there’s one person living this reality in silence.
I applaud and congratulate all parents who adopt or foster, and whilst a lot of assistance is provided lets as a country continue improving these services for one and all.
I trust you find this opinion useful, possibly useless for some, but for sure not harmful to anyone.