Ethics transcend belief – Louisa Mifsud Houlton

I am writing once again with reference to the amendments being proposed to the IVF law that is being discussed in Parliament. Mark Sant (May 2) defends embryo freezing, proposed in these amendments, by saying that the process brings about the making of more babies not less; so, this, in his view, should be enough to make pro-life campaigners happy.

But I challenge this assumption and wish to bring on further clarification. What Sant seems to think is that increasing the numbers of babies is all that activists are interested in. This is a complete misinterpretation of pro-life campaigners’ arguments and an actual confirmation of that which such activists oppose.

Is human life a product in some kind of factory line? A commodity which is in high demand for which we need to provide a supply? This is exactly the philosophy that those against embryo-freezing and sperm-donation for that matter are up against. How can this be ethical?

Which brings me to another deceptive argument being used to justify such a position.

Pro-life activists are mainly being attacked for bringing ethics and morality into it, and for imposing unjustly their Catholic beliefs on others. It is argued that since there are no absolute truths, and everything depends on one’s point of view, making such truths absolute is an encroachment on someone else’s right to freedom.

But let us once again call a spade a spade; in reality, in this world of relativism, we do all agree on some absolutes, no?  No law allows us to go about shooting or robbing each other, although there exist places where anarchy reigns. In contrast to what relativists believe, there are some few absolute truths; these same absolute truths, which they seem so repulsed by, might be in fact what are keeping them safe and alive in the world of today.

Also, with regards to belief and morality, although it is a fact that, a significant number of these activists are Catholic, I really hope that morality and ethics do occupy a place in our society and are not only left to religion.

I hope the public is informed enough to be able to distinguish the difference between religion and ethics and not confuse the two. To further clarify this distinction, it is opportune to say that it is thanks to this distinction that we can rely on the fact that doctors and all other professionals, for that matter, do not need to be Catholic to act ethically. This is because they are bound by a code of ethics that transcends any belief they might hold.

For love has no gender or status and should be open for all to share and to give away to the many unwanted children who already exist

So I hope that for those who want to dismiss ethics in this whole debate, now it becomes more blatantly clear how ethics has everything to do with it. And ‘do no harm’ I believe is the Hippocratic Oath that all doctors are bound by i.e. to protect human life.

So, this is not debatable and is surely an absolute. Or is it once again a question that we are only talking of eight cells? Here we go again – a subject for those interested, I have discussed at length in a previous article in this newspaper.

Finally I think one of the most painful arguments being used against pro-life campaigners is attacking them for their insensitivity to people who cannot have children, both heterosexual and homosexual couples, or single people.

In this semblance of a war between those ‘altruistic’ and ‘compassionate’, who are pushing for the law on one side, on a mission fighting selflessly to bring justice to this painful situation and the rest: the ‘baddies’, the insensitive ones, who lack compassion, since they can enjoy the luxury of reasoning in this way, because probably they have children of their own and have never experienced this pain.

Once again, what an incorrect and inaccurate representation of reality. From Mary Ann Lauri’s brave, honest and heartfelt interview on the programme Newsline on RTK (April 30), we have a testimony that sheds light on the fact that pro-life campaigners do also in fact include couples who have suffered this situation.  Also, let us not be naïve in assuming that whoever is on this mission has truly only the interests and suffering of infertile persons at heart.

We would be out of touch with reality not to recognise the money making business that will start rolling once the legal framework for the system is set up.

So another hope I have is that we can start seeing more clearly the sometimes puerile misrepresentation of agendas in this campaign.

Finally, as a person campaigning against embryo-freezing, I would like to urge the public and the government to encourage laws and policies that have both the pain of people facing fertility issues, the interests of children and the future generation at heart.

I can never assume to truly possess the ability to understand fully the pain of those people who want to parent and who biologically cannot; I can only humbly imagine it but what I do know is that true parental love which is unconditional and wants only the best for all its offspring, presented with the threat of Solomon’s sword, would not ask for what it wants at whatever price.

 I urge the government instead of legalising such seriously morally dubious scientific practices, to focus instead, if IVF fails, on policies that make it easier for all those ready to adopt. For love has no gender or status and should be open for all to share and to give away to the many unwanted children who already exist and who are thoroughly in need of it.

Louisa Mifsud Houlton works in the education sector.


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