The proposed amendments to the Embryo Protection Act have been described as “a complete travesty of ethics, morality, and human dignity, allegedly to remove ‘discrimination’ imposed by nature herself”. The discussion on Xarabank further illustrated how media manipulation can obscure what the proposed amendments mean to the man in the street.
This law is not about looking out for ways in which the rare cases present and can be helped within the limits of the law, but about using these people and hiding the true objective of the Bill.
We all feel for and agree that patients suffering from infertility need help and that we are obliged to have the best practice ethical medical support possible available. Furthermore this should be free of charge. At present the couples still have to foot bills for medicines they may not afford.
It is well established by science and endorsed in our law that the human embryo must be protected from conception. We must heed the cries of the infertile couple but must also have the best interests of the children born from IVF at heart.
The human embryo is one of us. We were all embryos, small voiceless and vulnerable. It is a stage in our human life, as is the preborn, infant child, adult and elderly. The present law endorses and protects the embryo and only considers freezing when it is the only way to save an embryo’s life in extreme cases.
The new law will offer freezing as an option not an exception. The freezing of embryos constitutes an offence to human life, suspending this life and subjecting it to the dangers of thawing. Many embryos remain frozen, unclaimed and end up losing their lives in all freezing facilities worldwide.
This law is about “giving children to all who want a child”. They can be single men, women or in relationships. It is not discrimination that prevents same-sex couples from having a child but Mother Nature. It is not discrimination that prevents a single man or a single woman from conceiving without a partner but nature.
Children need a biological mother and a biological father to be conceived.
Knowing our identity and family bonds is essential to our well-being. We have all seen TV shows of adopted children who love their adoptive parents but who go on a quest to find their biological parents. We have seen the reunions and been emotionally touched by this.
This Bill proposes the opposite. It proposes creating a generation of children to purposely have an unknown father or unknown mother by anonymous donor conception. It deprives them of having any means to know if they have brothers or sisters.
The voices of the children born from these techniques, now adults must be heard. They too speak of the pain in being abandoned by their biological parents in the quest to have a child. Conveniently, these adults were dismissed as “the exceptions” by gynaecologist Mark Sant, who only uses the exception when it suits his arguments.
This extract is from an e-mail from Olivia Pratten who eloquently says:
“As someone conceived from paid anonymous gamete donation, I am outraged to read that Malta is considering allowing the practice. I advocated ending the practice in Canada for many, many years. I presented at both the House and Senate Committees of Health in Canada in multiple testimonies given between 2001 and 2004, and also in court and publicly from 2008 to 2012 – arguing successfully at the BC Supreme Court to end anonymity.
“I know this issue inside and out (and have lived it) and it is shocking that Malta would consider allowing anonymity when so many other jurisdictions have ended it (UK, Sweden, Australia, etc). It is absolutely not in the best interests of the resulting children to allow it.
“I spent 30 years of my life having no idea which one of the thousands of strangers I walked by every single day was my biological father. It was awful. Yes, I had a dad and a great family, but that didn’t change or replace the fact that my biological father was a complete unknown and I was created to be disconnected from him and my paternal family.”
The amendments proposed allow us to create children from men or women who are already dead but had donated sperm or ova creating orphans at birth.
They do not provide safeguards against brothers and sisters who will be attracted to each other and not know they are related. The law proposes to solve this by allowing one donation but this does not mean that whoever donated will not have his or her biological children as well.
The proposed amendments are a travesty of justice in presenting concepts like unknown father and unknown mother as beneficial to society. We cannot allow this to happen.
Members of Parliament endorsing this carry a heavy responsibility. They are accountable to the pain that will be inflicted on a new generation.
My appeal is to join the movement for life to show our dissent.
Our children deserve better. #embrijunWiehedMinna
Miriam Sciberras is chairman, Life Network Foundation Malta.