Off-the-shelf babies

When Health Minister Chris Fearne floated proposed changes to the IVF law, the furore that followed was predictable. IVF procedures can be contentious from an ethical perspective and there are many issues he raised that are controversial.

Mr Fearne, touted as a Labour Party leadership contender, stuck to the usual pseudo-liberal policies his party has successfully adopted since 2013. He even went as far as to suggest the decriminalising of what he called “altruistic surrogacy”, a kinder term for women who sell their wombs, ostensibly awaiting nothing in return.

Of course, away from the issues concerning embryo freezing, sperm donations and embryo adoptions, a key element being introduced through the proposed new law is that the provision of IVF services will not be limited to couples in a stable heterosexual relationship, as is presently the case, but to same-sex couples and single people wishing to become parents.

This is a natural development in government’s confused policies on the family. Once a steadfast pillar of society, the family has today come to mean anything to anyone, subject to individual choice, and not the common good. The concept of marriage has similarly been diluted.

The bishops were among the first to shoot down the proposals, saying the amendments deliberately introduce new types of orphans who would never know their natural mother and father. They said children did not deserve such callous treatment.

A medical practitioner who had been involved in the drafting of the existing IVF legislation described the proposed changes as chilling and irresponsible. Pro-life group Gift of Life said they were ludicrous and abhorrent.

And in the light of this severe criticism, out comes Prime Minister Joseph Muscat to say it is really about equality. We all know he is politically pragmatic but that should not mean amoral. Dr Muscat said he will not be impressed by anyone going on television to speak of morality. He was more concerned with women who cannot have children and who remained at home. We all are.

Yet, resorting to technology to help people with such fertility problems has nothing to do with equality. The Prime Minister appears to be targeting gay couples and the “inequality” he speaks of is all of his own making because it is based on falsity.

It was Dr Muscat’s government that introduced gay marriage in Malta, effectively putting gay couples on par with heterosexual couples. This has already led the way to gay adoptions. Naturally, the amendments to the IVF law also have to cater for gay people, maybe above all others, considering that gay couples cannot have children.

In his political rhetoric, Dr Muscat says all couples and all families are the same, whatever their sexual orientation. This government’s policy over recent years has not aimed to strengthen the family as we have always known it and which could do with so much assistance given today’s challenges and the scientific means available. It has instead introduced new versions of the family, held up with a weak scaffolding of vague liberal rights.

The end result is that we have ‘families’ which nature dictates cannot have children. Promoting IVF, adoption, embryo freezing and calling it a move for equality only exposes the lies the government has been dishing out in the name of liberalism.

Children are not consumables.

This is a Times of Malta print editorial


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