Parliamentary Secretary Julia Farrugia Portelli Opens Up About Infertility Fears and IVF Clinic Experience
'I’m 40 years old and mother to Eliza, but 6 years ago I thought I couldn’t bear a child'
Cover photo: Clifton Fenech
Parliamentary Secretary for Reforms Julia Farrugia Portelli opened up about her personal experience with In Vitro Fertilisation at a conference organised by the Malta Infertility Network earlier this week. At the conference, which was also addressed by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, she talked about her own experience considering IVF as a possible option for her family.
"Let's be frank," she started. "You spend years having protected sex to avoid pregnancy because, in your frame of mind, it’s not the right time to have kids yet; it’s either because of your studies, career or because you’re not in a steady relationship by now."
"Then, you end up meeting the right partner, perhaps get married, move in together and start planning for your family… but weeks, months, sometimes years go by, and your pregnancy test still marks negative. Haven’t some of us been through this?" she asked the conference crowd.
"For heterosexual couples, with every test, your hopes dash, for all couples irrespective of gender your heart sinks and your eyes as well. It takes a huge toll on your life and it was at that point that my husband and I decided to seek professional medical advice," she said.
"Discreetly, I did start reading about adoption and IVF and this is how I came face to face with reality," she said.
However, before they took the next steps towards IVF, she became pregnant naturally.
After sharing her story, she called on IVF to be more accessible, and recounted another story where a friend of hers was forced to go abroad for IVF treatment, which was a costly affair.
She also reiterated that the Government is committed to access to other forms of assisted reproductive technology, and said, without mincing her words, that "embryo freezing is not abortion."
Speaking to Lovin Malta, she said that she had received a lot of positive feedback to sharing her personal story, with everyone from the man in the street saying 'thank you' to comments from pro-IVF groups saying they had "goose-pimples" when they heard her share her story.
"To procreate is an innate human need; love is definitely not an act of selfishness; and In Vitro Fertilization means new life and not the other way round," she said.