Together against discrimination - Tonio Fenech
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Together against discrimination - Tonio Fenech

If the issue is discrimination, then even MGRM should oppose these amendments

Photo: Shutterstock

Photo: Shutterstock

The statement issued by the Malta Gay Rights Movement (MGRM) supporting the proposed changes to the Embryo Protection Act shed light on some misconceived ideas.

Every human being has the right to live the lifestyle he chooses, to be esteemed, and not to be discriminated. This is a basic value that we all cherish, at least those who believe in freedom and equality.

However, equality is not one sided. Equality is about giving respect, dignity and the right to freedom to everyone, even the embryo who is a human being that deserves his or her freedom, to be also esteemed and not discriminated against.

This is not about the rights of a minority group against the will of the majority, this is about the protection and respect we give to the vulnerable. In pursuit of our rights we cannot trample on others; this too is a basic value. The fish in an overcrowded aquarium kill the weaker and smaller fish to have more space and survive. But we are not fish, we are humans.

There is no discrimination in a single woman not having a child. We already have single mothers; they never needed IVF.  There is neither any discrimination against same-sex couples in sexual reproduction or health services. A same-sex couple cannot blame the rest of society for discrimination because it cannot have children when the limitation is biological, created by nature and beyond anyone’s control.  

I would like to assert a very important principle: having children does not make one more human, or more dignified, as much as not having children does not in any way make you inferior. Children are a gift from nature and despite all the technological advances not even IVF can guarantee a couple a child.

Not to have their own children is the choice of same-sex couples, who take that decision knowingly when they enter into such a relationship. Therefore, playing the discrimination card is most unfair, as it is not society that has imposed this limitation. It is a simple fact of life. 

When we talk of children we cannot reason as though we are talking of a soft toy you pick from a store. Children have rights, the right to know their natural parents, to be cared, nourished, educated and loved by them. 

It is even most unfair that in its statement MGRM “uses” the legitimate pains of childless natural parents to further its claims. IVF is important to support childless couples and the focus of the debate should not be detracted from the President’s message, i.e. to find the balance between the heartache that childless couples face and the ethical, moral and scientific considerations connected with right of embryos that are human beings.  

Having children does not make one more human, or more dignified, as much as not having children does not in any way make you inferior

Now let me be very clear. I am in no way saying that same-sex couples cannot love children, but this is not what these amendments are about. The State has already granted the right to adoption to same-sex couples, and despite the claims made by MGRM, the jury is still out on the welfare of the children.  

If the issue is discrimination, then we should be all against these amendments, even the MGRM. The law will allow only two embryos to be implanted in every cycle, the “extra” embryos will be frozen. Can you imagine what MGRM will say if somebody claims that gay people are “extra” and therefore should be discarded?  Rightfully, that person would be accused of spreading hate. But what makes it so different when we talk of an embryo, which is the first step of our human existence?  Being eight or a million cells makes no difference.

Is it fair that these humans may never see the light of day, dying in the defrosting process, or forever forgotten as frozen orphans? Is it not discrimination that those implanted in their mother will know their parents but those that are frozen/donated will not have this opportunity?  

How can those fighting discrimination accept the concept of creating children in undesirable situations as frozen orphans and say that they are equal? This is discrimination and not arguments that ignore the laws of nature.

As parents our concern is the child’s best interest. That is why this value is so close to us. If we keep the value of the “best interest of the child” first in our discussion, these amendments need some considerate rethinking.

Adoptions are a remedy for an undesired outcome. In such situations adoption is a noble act. It does not follow that creating orphans is a good thing.  Unfortunately adopted children pass through difficulties many of us cannot understand. The yearning to know from where they come, and to which there will not be an answer; if they trace their biological parents they struggle to understand why they have been rejected, thinking that it was for something wrong that they did, creating anxieties, inferiority complexes and other psychological difficulties. There are ample studies and real-life stories of these situations, why do we chose to simply ignore?   

Sperm and egg donation and surrogacy create even more of such confusion in the child. A child can have three mothers and two fathers, the biological parents, the surrogate mother and the adoptive parents, or other combinations like four mothers and a father or two mothers and three fathers. Is this confusion for the best interest of the child?

Surrogacy is a practice that is totally banned even in very liberal countries. In 2016, feminists and human-rights activists from all over the world met in Paris to sign the charter against surrogacy with the European Parliament calling on states for its total ban.

Surrogacy is exploitation, goes against the dignity of the woman and the child she carries. It renders the woman no more than an object. Endless stories of surrogate mothers refusing to give the child they bore and bonded with for nine months for the obvious natural reason that they feel the child is theirs. Prolonged court disputes, separation from the mother, are not the best interest of the child. 

Who will defend the child against discrimination, forced abduction and separation from the mother that gave the child flesh? I hope MGRM are genuine in their fight against discrimination. If so let them become LGBTIQE, with “E” for embryo.

Having or not having children makes you no more and no less human. There is no discrimination in not having children. These amendments create real discrimination, discrimination against the embryo/child.

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