A travesty of the supposedly Embryo Protection Act

Altruism, adoption are words that are being used to sugar coat the proposed amendments to the Embryo Protection Act, with the intention to mask a reality that only those wanting to believe deception for political convenience fail to see.

The changes proposed to the Embryo Protection Act in fact have nothing to do with the protection of the embryo. In fact they dehumanise the embryo by calling it a fertilised egg that can be frozen.  An egg only lives for a day. A fertilised egg which is no longer called an egg but an embryo can live for years.  We are all a fertilised egg.

No wonder former Labour leader Alfred Sant called it a “curious compromise” when Government tried to give the impression that unwanted embryos will be adopted.  Adoption sounds nice, but is a lie, because 30% of the frozen embryos will die when they are being defrosted, and that is why Alfred Sant calls it a “step towards abortion”.

There are also natural reasons why frozen embryos will be abandoned and never adopted.  First because those frozen are knowingly of poorer quality then the two originally planted in the mother. 

Secondly, couples seeking IVF will try to use their own gamete and only source what is needed as everyone would like the child to be at least in part biologically theirs.   So this Act will actually see hundreds of embryos, if not thousands, frozen with no purpose.  What will happen to them?  In many countries machines are switched off over time, and these humans are let to die or, equally bad, given away for experimentation.  Where does this Act protect the embryo, the human life?  The title of the Act itself has become a lie.

The previous Act did provide for solutions to address the need to avoid making a woman pass through multiple cycles for every IVF treatment.  It did so by finding the right balance and implanting three embryos to increase the chances of pregnancy and freezing the unfertilised eggs and sperms for future attempts separately.    The Minister claims embryo freezing  is necessary to maintain present success rates, since the law will restrict implantation to two embryos.  If so why the change?   This is neither a compromise, nor a solution. It exposes the embryo to risks or a deep freeze until the machine is switched off.    Is this the unfreezing mentality that the Minister would like to see in us?  Indeed, this is very insulting to the intelligence of many who understand what the proposal really means.

I will not ask what changed the Prime Minister’s mind on surrogacy when on previous occasions he had affirmed that he had no mandate for it.   The craftiness of this Government is amazing.

As Alfred Sant put it; for the Government to appear pro-life, knowing that 95% of the Maltese are unequivocally against abortion, it still introduces embryo freezing but states that “unused” frozen embryos will be give for adoption. 

Firstly, a third of frozen embryos will die. Secondly, the minster says that surrogacy will reduce the strain on the woman who may conceive triplets.

From what I understand no mothers have had triplets through IVF treatment in the NHS.

Government depicts surrogacy as an altruistic gesture.   People compassionately understand the situation of a mother offering to carry the child for her daughter who biologically cannot bear children.  But the Act does not speak about a mother or close family relative but of friends.   Now who will define “friend”?

Are we talking about long-time friends, school friends, a Facebook friend from India (the country most notoriously associated with human trafficking for the purpose of surrogacy)?

Rest assured that many will rely on a simple declaration, no questions asked, just as no questions are asked about the Asian women trafficked into Malta to operate massage parlours that only the law enforcement authorities seem to see nothing wrong with.  

The proposed amendments, including especially surrogacy, have only one altruistic objective, the commercial interests of a gynaecologist that has been aggressively lobbying for them, and even on occasions speaking on behalf of the government in various seminars and Parliamentary Committees.  

That this Government is only about money is no surprise, with all talk of legalising prostitution, cultivating cannabis, selling passports, high rise towers everywhere and making hay while the sun shines. Now it is embryo freezing and surrogacy, which feminist movements worldwide classify as equal to prostitution.

Lastly, we are given the false notion that these amendments are necessary to eliminate discrimination in the provision of medical services.  There was and is no discrimination in medical services.  Procreation is dictated by the natural order not by the Health Services.  To have a child you need a man and a woman, not a single mother, not any other form of relationship.   The burden of this natural limitation should not be placed on us all, and gamete donation and surrogacy should not be rendered into a tradable commodity without considering the consequences.  

Children born of such donations are not objects or robots.

There are psychological repercussions on the children born without identity from gamete donation and surrogacy.   The argument of “like all other adopted children” is unfair.  Being an orphan is a most unfortunate and tragic thing, and it is a blessing when a couple offers to adopt that child.  But what we are saying now is ‘let’s create orphan children to be adopted.’

In order to eliminate a hypothetical discrimination, we are creating real discrimination by denying children their rightful parenthood, all in the name of equality.   We ignore the fact that children are vulnerable, that they will not understand that they came from nowhere, that their biological parents don’t want to know of them, or even, as the law states, that they cannot ever know them.  

As parents we know that children are vulnerable, even if the Minister wants to think of them as robots. There are endless stories of traumatised adults unable to connect with their IVF adoptive relations in the knowledge that they are not their true family, which is hidden and denied from them.   Where is altruism with these children? Where is the best interest of the children in the new amendments?  Not to mention the risks on society with having a small genetic pool of siblings inter-marrying, unknowing of their biological affinity.

Malta, wake up from this mist of money hypnosis. One day, the abundance will drown in greed or simply dry up in the next crisis.  What will remain then?

Dear Prime Minister, we are not talking about morality – we are talking about the best interests of the children, frozen and unfrozen.

Tonio Fenech is a former Nationalist minister

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