Waste not, want not. So the story goes. Any leftover food is either frozen for when hunger strikes again or thrown away in the bin if one has had enough. This is how one of the proposed amendments to the embryo protection law wants to treat human life.
Create a surplus of human embryos; use as many as you will. The human embryos within the parental project, that is the ‘wanted ones’, will be gestated lovingly, nurtured and spoilt once born; the ‘extra’ human beings will be frozen indefinitely until someone decides on their bleak future. Most will remain suspended on ice, completely forgotten, thrown away or eventually destroyed. So many lost lives, lost loves, missed siblings, daughters or sons, never given a chance.
Why would we choose this kind of IVF? Why an IVF that devalues and destroys human lives by embryo freezing when we have another option that works just as well? I have met parents who had IVF overseas, their frozen embryos always at the back of their minds, parents who did not have the option of freezing unfertilised eggs (ova). Parents who know that they are not going to claim those human embryos, brothers and sisters to the children they already have, and this causes them a lot of psychological distress.
Any changes to the embryo protection law that endangers the life of the human embryo risks opening the door to abortion
What are the real reasons behind these sinister proposed amendments? We are a country that cares about life. We treasure our children, born and unborn. The Embryo Protection Act took a long time to come into force but now we are seeing results that compare well with the rates of other countries. We are helping infertile couples who choose IVF without undue risk to nascent human embryonic lives.
How can we risk removing protection from the human embryo?
Considering that great human rights causes of our time and all times have always had the cause of life as the point of reference as well as the dignity of the human person, of every human person, any changes to the embryo protection law that endangers the life of the human embryo risks opening the door to abortion.
Protection of life from the moment of conception to natural death cannot be compromised. There is too much at stake.
The human embryo is a vulnerable human being, voiceless and defenceless. This does not mean that he or she does not have the intrinsic right to life and human dignity as a member of our species. How can we consider freezing human lives as a capricious option just because an ill-advised local women’s group makes it their crusade?
Article 8 of the Universal Declaration of Bioethics and Human Rights speaks of respect for human vulnerability and personal integrity and states that, in applying and advancing scientific knowledge, medical practice and associated technologies, human vulnerability should be taken into account. Individuals and groups of special vulnerability should be protected and the personal integrity of such individuals respected.
In the same declaration, article 16 also speaks about protecting future generations and states that due importance has to be given to the impact of life sciences on future generations, including on their genetic constitution.
Has anyone bothered to ask children born from these technologies to speak? Does anyone care? Has anyone bothered to read about the pain and insecurity inflicted on children born from anonymous sperm donation, another amendment being suggested? Look up ‘Anonymous us’ on the internet and read their stories.
How are we to speak of protecting future generations when we are creating ‘surplus’ children and freezing them?
How are we to speak of protecting future generations when we, by surrogacy, create children to be intentionally separated from their birth mother, children who will intentionally never know their biological father, children brought up without ever experiencing the complementarity of motherhood and fatherhood?
What about the rights of the child conceived to know and be raised by the biological parents whenever possible? Malta is now the only country in the EU which still holds on to a completely pro-life culture. Other countries do not even value life in utero but justify abortion.
How can such countries care about what happens to human embryos? The human embryo is not respected, therefore it is graded, discarded, frozen or used in research.
We should know better. Backed by science, we affirm life from conception to natural death. Affirming human life we should not compromise the law which protects this life in the earliest stages.
Politicians are called to bravely resist the enormous onslaught to change our prolife laws and culture. The proposed changes to the Embryo Protection Act were not listed in the electoral programme of any political party. The absolute majority of the population do not want these changes.
I call on people of good faith to unite and resist these changes. Anonymous egg and sperm donation, embryo freezing and surrogacy are highly objectionable on moral, ethical and scientific grounds. They do not serve a child’s best interest.
Let us keep all human life in Malta safe. Hands off the Embryo Protection Act.
Miriam Sciberras is chairman of Life Network Malta