The desire to bear and rear children is indeed a noble desire. The provision of IVF services to assist infertile couples to have children is therefore laudable.
Attempts to increase the success rate of IVF practices are also to be encouraged, but not at all costs and definitely not at the expense of the rights of the unborn child.
Children are gifts and not entitlements. IVF policies should therefore not relegate the rights of the unborn child to the desire to bear children at all costs, no matter how noble that desire may be.
The Embryo Protection Act, enacted in 2012, regulates IVF in a manner which strikes a balance between the noble desires of infertile couples and the rights of the unborn child by allowing the freezing of as yet unfertilised female ova but not the freezing of embryos.
The proposed amendments contemplate the possibility of embryo freezing, which inevitably leads to embryo stockpiling, and no amount of rhetoric can dispute that.
Stockpiling has been the experience of all countries where embryo freezing has been introduced.
The proposed amendments contemplate the imposition of embryo adoption on vulnerable couples opting for embryo freezing in an attempt to render embryo freezing more palatable, but it is unlikely that this will eliminate unwanted, unutilised, leftover embryos, with all the ethical dilemmas that come in their wake.
Human embryos are therefore destined to become frozen orphans in violation of the dignity with which every unborn child should be treated.
Besides embryo freezing, two other objectionable proposals are anonymous gamete donation and surrogacy.
Both practices deprive children of being brought up by their natural parents and the right to know the identity of their biological parents. The practices have been discouraged and banned in a number of countries, but in pseudoliberal Malta, fools rush in where angels fear to tread.
It is indeed painful to see the vulnerabilities of infertile couples being abused to promote pseudo-rights which have nothing to do with infertility.
A homosexual couple is unable to have children without the collaboration of somebody from the opposite sex, not necessarily because of infertility but because nature has dictated that it takes two persons of the opposite sex to procreate.
Two male homosexuals may be perfectly potent but are unable to procreate without a female ovum and surrogate mother. Lesbians may be perfectly potent and able to go through with gestation but they cannot procreate without male gamete donation.
Promoting surrogacy and gamete donation to homosexual couples within the context of infertility is typical of the deception which surrounds the entire debate relating to the current amendments to the Embryo Protection Act, which, in truth, have nothing to do with protection of the embryo but all to do with its objectification and commodification.
The proposed amendments attempt to cancel out differences endowed by nature at the expense of children.
Far from introducing equality, the proposed amendments are intrinsically discriminatory. They discriminate between embryos that will be given a fair chance to survive by being implanted in a mother’s womb and others destined for frozen, suspended animation.
They discriminate between children who are destined to be brought up by their natural parents and those denied the basic right to know the identity of their natural parents. The amendments will institutionalise an unknown parentage, with the possibility of traumatising children indelibly.
Rather than rush to enact pseudoliberal laws which violate the dignity of life, our parliamentarians should take up the President’s invitation to meet all stakeholders with a view to holding a constructive discussion which is cognisant of the noble wishes of childless couples while not ignoring the delicate ethical issues relating to embryos’ rights and the best interests of our children, born and unborn.
Arthur Galea Salomone is president of the Cana Movement.