Pro-life lawyer Tonio Azzopardi has filed Constitutional proceedings asking the court to declare that the 2018 Embryo Protection Act violates embryos’ right to life.
In a Constitutional application filed against the Attorney General, Azzopardi argues that life is protected from conception in the Maltese legal system, punishing those who endanger life with prison. “The freezing of embryos, as it exposes unborn human life to clear danger, constitutes an evident breach of Article 33 of the Constitution and Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights,” reads the application.
If the courts uphold the request and declare the proposed law illegal, it could force Parliament to rethink the issue. Parliament will be voting on the new law today.
The proposed law allows the cryo-preservation of germ line cells in authorised cell banks, a fact which Azzopardi says is a money-spinner for the fertility industry. It also amounts to “a breach…of protection from inhuman and degrading treatment…in that there would be stockpiling in authorised banks of embryos with the loss of all dignity for the person.” The fertilisation of five eggs, with three ending up frozen, left the frozen embryos denuded of their dignity, aside from placing them in danger, he says.
The defendant Attorney General, as representative of the State, “has a positive obligation to defend life,” Azzopardi added.
“Procreation should take place in the context of a relationship between a man and a woman only. The concept of single parents intentionally giving birth to children who are not going to have a father or a mother is not only not in the interests of the children but also constitutes inhuman and degrading treatment.”
The practise of freezing embryos could result in children being born as orphans, because their parents would have died while they were in suspended animation, remarked the lawyer, whose staunchly conservative views on embryo protection are well-known.
Two years ago this month, Azzopardi had publicly taken it upon himself to defend the interests and rights of unborn children against “every violation of their right to life,” taking legal action against the National Commission for the Promotion of Equality for its position on the debate on whether to legalise use of the morning-after pill.
In that case, Tonio Azzopardi had filed a judicial protest against the commission, calling on the entity to desist from giving support based on “scientifically and legally incorrect considerations.”
The application filed yesterday asks the First Hall of the Civil Court in its Constitutional jurisdiction to declare that articles proposed in the draft Bill violate the human embryo’s rights, if it is frozen or used in IVF, and to declare the relative articles in the Bill null and void.