Adrian Vassallo brands liberals 'pigs' and slams IVF
Labour MP Adrian Vassallo this evening hit out at the IVF Bill and branded liberals as 'pigs,' saying he was doing so because he had been described as a conservative 'dinosaur'.
Speaking in Parliament, Dr Vassallo confirmed that he would vote against the Bill on second reading, but would vote in favour of amendments which the Opposition would move.
Dr Vassallo said that many people thought that IVF was about using the egg of a woman and the seed of a man, mixing them up, implanting the embryo and, hey presto, a baby was born nine months later.
Alas, matters were not so simple. Few would argue about the end result, but the issue was about the means.
The process involved the implantation of several embryos with the hope that one would develop. This was not a natural process and in many cases, life which started in the dish or the test tube died.
Now much was being said about a new process - vitrification (the freezing of the woman's egg). However a report by US experts said that a more cautious tone was needed.
Ovary freezing was not some miracle which was always successful. Experts said that "the rush into vitrification has probably been immature."
Yet Malta wanted to introduce something which was still experimental.
Dr Vassallo said an issue which needed to be considered was age. The Bill did not establish the maximum age of a woman who sought IVF.
Furthermore, what would happen to frozen embryos if they could not be implanted, such as if the woman died? What say would the father have?
Could Malta have surrogate mothers?
How was it that, through this legislation, Malta was to allow access to IVF for unmarried couples who were in a stable relationship?
Once there was divorce, those who wanted children could marry, and if they could not have children they could seek IVF. But to offer this process to unmarried couples when there was no obstacle to marriage did not make sense. Children born within marriage and a stable family had a stronger chance of a stable upbringing.
He feared, Dr Vassallo said, that such provisions in the Bill were an excuse for those who were gay to have children. He saw no other reason why unmarried couples could have a right to IVF.
The Labour MP insisted that this Bill did not protect embryos, despite what the government was saying. The way things were currently done in Malta showed that embryo freezing was already being done, when foreigners came to Malta for the purpose. One only needed to see how many twins were born on practically the same day.
Turning to risks, Dr Vassallo said that between 1990 and 2011 there were 196 births through IVF which were premature. Some were triplets, some were quads. 45 died. So where was respect for life? This was a haphazard operation.
Of the births, there was as a high percentage of children who suffered cerebral palsy, a high percentage who were born prematurely with lower IQ and a bigger risk of behavioural difficulties and ADHD. IVF babies had twice the normal chance of problems with language development.
A study in Japan showed that in twin pregnancies they had a 7.4% chance of cerebral palsy, impaired sight or congenital disease.
The risk of birth defects in the natural process was 5.8 per cent. In the IVF process it was 7.2 per cent and in vitrification it was 9.9 per cent. Malta, rightly, did not want embryo freezing. But then it was in favour of a system with higher risks. Was this ethically and morally acceptable to MPs? For him it wasn't.
Dr Vassallo said it was understandable that couples would do everything to have babies, but one had to see if the means were morally and ethically acceptable. To use such haphazard methods with a success rate of 30% while causing loss of life was unacceptable.
He had been called a dinosaur by the liberals because he was a conservative, someone who wanted to conserve what was right in society, Dr Vassallo said. The liberals did not believe in anything. It was case of anything goes, they had no respect for others or for themselves. If he was a dinosaur then the liberals were pigs. (At this point the Acting Speaker objected to people being described as pigs. Dr Vassallo said he had been described as a dinosaur and therefore he was describing others as pigs. The Acting Speaker said the term dinosaur was not used in the House)
Continuing, Dr Vassallo said the liberals were accepting what in the past was considered unethical and immoral. They did not want rules and wanted everyone to do what he liked without anyone shouldering responsibility to others and to God.
He could not put his name on a Bill such as this, but he would back amendments which the Opposition planned to move, especially because it was unacceptable that people seeking IVF had to seek authorisation before a Regulatory authority.
Dr Vassallo concluded by thanking Opposition leader Joseph Muscat for letting him express his views.
He said he would now await the insults of the pigs, with pride.