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Vassallo slams IVF and brands liberals as ‘pigs’

Labour backbencher Adrian Vassallo.

Labour backbencher Adrian Vassallo.

Labour backbencher Adrian Vassallo yesterday hit out at the IVF Bill and branded liberals “pigs”, saying he was doing so because he had been described as a conservative “dinosaur”.

The liberals don’t believe in anything. They have no respect for others. If I am a ‘dinosaur’, the liberals are pigs

Speaking during the debate of the Embryo Protection Bill, Dr Vassallo confirmed that he would be voting against the Bill on second reading but would vote in favour of amendments which the Opposition would move in committee stage.

He said his moral values did not allow him to be in favour of IVF. Nevertheless, he said, he felt it was not fair that a couple had to ask for permission to undergo the procedure and the Medical Council should also stand up in favour of medical practitioners and protect them where necessary.

Dr Vassallo said various reports stated that freezing of eggs was not always successful and that the rush into vitrification was probably immature since the process was still experimental. Although this was beneficial to cancer patients who wished to resort to their frozen gametes once cured, a more cautious approach in this respect still needed to be adopted.

IVF was used by couples and women of all ages and there was also a case, abroad, of a 63-year-old getting pregnant through IVF. What was the age limit in Malta’s case?

If an embryo had to be frozen due to force majeure, such as the wife’s death, why should the Government take over the ownership of the embryo and strip the father of his rights over his unborn child? The father should be the one to decide what to do. Yet, if the father chose to use a surrogate to gestate this frozen embryo, would this be acceptable under the proposed law?

Dr Vassallo also stated that he was not in favour of giving this right to unmarried couples who were in a stable relationship, because of fears that gay couples could use this procedure. The right to IVF, if any, had only to be available to married couples.

Between 1990 and 2011, 176 IVF babies were born prematurely and 45 of these later died. This clearly showed that embryos were not respected, he said. Moreover, the risk of birth defects increased. Whereas the risks of birth defects in natural conception was 5.8 per cent, when adopting IVF these defects amounted to 7.2 per cent.

There was also the risk that IVF babies would later suffer from ADHD and have problems with language development. Was this ethically and morally acceptable to MPs?

“For me it isn’t,” he said.

Dr Vassallo said he had been called a dinosaur by the liberals because he was a conservative, someone who wanted to conserve what was right in society. The liberals did not believe in anything. It was a case of anything goes; they had no respect for others or for themselves. If he was a dinosaur, then the liberals were pigs.

Here, Acting Speaker Ċensu Galea 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. Mr Galea 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.

Concluding, Dr Vassallo thanked Opposition leader Joseph Muscat for letting him express his views.

He said he would now await the insults of the pigs with pride.

Labour MPs George Vella and Justyne Caruana and Nationalist backbencher Jean Pierre Farrugia also contributed to the debate.

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