MELBOURNE, Australia — The first-ever National Fertility Conference in Australia was organised and hosted by the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and the Family and Office of the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne with the support of Australian Catholic Bishops Conference. Held on 19-21 September in Melbourne, it was sponsored by the Australian Catholic University, Matercare Australia, Mercy Health and the International Institute for Restorative Reproductive Medicine. It attracted participants from the various methods of natural family planning.
The conference was opened on Friday evening by Melbourne Auxiliary Bishop Peter Elliott, Director of the John Paul II Institute, followed by a reflection by Bishop Gerard Hanna of Wagga Wagga on “The Grief & Loss of Infertility: A Pastoral Response”.
The keynote paper “Fertility Awareness in Medical Practice: A Holistic Approach” prepared by Prof. Pilar Vigil Protales of the Pontifical University, Chile was delivered by Dr Raffaella Pingitore, an Obstetrician & Gynaecologist from Switzerland.
The conference proper had 4 main sessions on Saturday.
Session 1 started with “Alternatives to IVF – What they are and how to present them” by Dr Phil Boyle of Ireland, followed by reports on state of fertility awareness in Medical practice from various parts of Australia.
Session 2 had the theme “Restorative Approach to Women’s Health and Infertility” which included discussion on treatment endocrine causes of sub-fertility (Dr Raffaella Pigitore, Switzerland) and surgery for sub-fertility (Dr Brendan Miller, Adelaide).
Session 3 was themed “Fertility Research” when Dr Luke McLindon (Brisbane) spoke on “Pregnancy Outcomes of Restorative Fertility Treatment”. Associate Prof. Len Blackwell then discussed the future of Brown’s Ovarian Monitor”. Session 3 ended with “Discussion of IIRRM Surveillance Trial on Restorative Procreative Medicine” by Dr Phil Boyle.
Session 4 which wound up the first day was a general panel discussion on future developments and then a Mass in St Patrick’s Cathedral.
On Sunday, the three participating fertility awareness agencies held separate conferences namely, (1) Ovulation Method Research and reference Centre Inc Ltd, (2) Australian Council of Natural Family Planning Inc and (3) Fertility Care Australia Inc. Concurrently held was a session for doctors on Ethical Issues led by ethicist Prof Nicholas Tonti-Filippini of John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family which touched on Seminal Fluid Collection, Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer, Intrauterine Insemination, Mirena Intrauterine Contraceptive Device, Morally Licit Use of Oral Contraceptive Pills, Problematic Requests, Providing fertility information and assistance to Lesbian couples and for the unmarried.
At the conference dinner on Saturday night, Dr Robert Walley of Canada was conferred an Honorary Doctoral Degree by the John Paul II Institute for his work in founding MaterCare International (http://matercare.org/) which comprises Catholic health professionals dedicated to the care of mothers and babies, designed to reduce the tragically high rates of maternal mortality, morbidity and abortion.
Dr Chan Lek Lim