Not long before Covid hit our shores I found out that I had a condition that can contribute to infertility. I was initially referred to the specialist because of chronic pain, not fertility issues, but while waiting on my initial diagnostic appointment my infertility became apparent. In March 2020 I was referred to the Regional Fertility Centre for a first appointment. In late March 2020 the UK went into lockdown and as you probably know one of the immediate effects was that all fertility services stopped. In fact I later found out that fertility staff were among the first to have been redeployed to Covid wards and seem to be also one of the last to be brought back.
This does make sense because the services they provide are not life-saving and so I would rather that fertility staff were redeployed than for example cardiac or oncology staff. While heartbreaking and the cause of missed opportunities for many, I could accept that my desire for a baby was not fatal and therefore not top of the priority list. However even when GB restarted fertility services and other related procedures in Summer 2020, Northern Ireland did not. I was also still waiting on treatment for my underlying condition during this time. Our fertility centre did not open its doors even virtually until March 2021, and I’m not sure when other procedures restarted but I certainly wasn’t getting seen. Eventually I went private for my procedure as fertility was not the only reason to have it done; I am still waiting for my second appointment at the Regional Fertility Centre.
Disappointing enough in itself, what seemed incredibly unfair to me during this period was that not only were abortions still being carried out during Covid but that there was pressure from Great Britain to implement our new more extreme abortion laws here during a pandemic in which other treatments were being cancelled.
I finally got a first fertility appointment 13 months after I was referred. The normal waiting time I believe is about two. It seems that they are now running up to 3 months behind again and while I cannot confirm that Covid is the reason, it does seem the most likely cause. Meanwhile Westminster is seeking legal means to force Northern Ireland hospitals to provide the full range of abortion services, even while we are cancelling cancer operations and fertility treatments.
I feel that I am in the position here where it would be much easier to destroy life in Northern Ireland than to create it; easier to kill a baby than to make one.