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IVF - the last act - Steve Pace

‘It saw the interests of the adults, once again, placed ahead of the interests of children, using the same children as marionettes in the hands of the puppet master.’

‘It saw the interests of the adults, once again, placed ahead of the interests of children, using the same children as marionettes in the hands of the puppet master.’

It’s done. The Bill has passed and as expected Parliament was united in its opposing stand on the IVF law amendments as proposed by the government. Once again, a matter of national concern was spun into a political football and the intelligence of people was severely and perversely challenged. To those supporting the government’s stand, there was no need for deliberation, as their conscience was laid to rest by the soothing rants scripted by ministers Chris Fearne and Helena Dalli.

Another section of society remains bewildered as it attempts to comprehend why a visiting lecturer at the University of Malta and a doctor of law, systemically ignored the scientific facts demonstrating beyond reasonable doubt that a human embryo is composed of the same 100 per cent DNA of born human beings.

In an extremely simplistic (and mostly unrealistic) explanation, a human embryo becomes an unborn human foetus when it successfully attaches itself to the uterus of the woman and incubation starts. It is at this stage that it gains momentum in development, leaving no further room for debate on what it is and what goes on from this first phase onwards.

In the part-time lecturer’s mind and mouth, the human embryo is still, however, no more than a bunch of cells, forgetting that his own body is composed of the same chemical elements of oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium and phosphorus making him not much different from it, albeit being born and still alive. Let us face it. The discussion has been purposely degenerated to cell level. As in any pro-abortion debate, unborn human life must be treated as an object and as a composition of cells. This strategy distorts reality and places a human embryo and a human foetus at par with a plant seed, cancer cells or a tumour. It is only in this manner that any deliberate termination of unborn human life becomes consciously justifiable.

Yet no-one expects to see a medical professional deliberately mishandling embryos on their way to being implanted simply because they are deemed a bunch of cells. They are medically not treated as a cancer. No patient receives chemotherapy to remove any residual cells that might have been left in the body. On the contrary, an IVF client receives all medical care possible to prepare for the implant well in advance to give the best possible chance for that embryo to attach itself and develop into a human foetus, making the argument about whether these embryos are human beings or not totally irrelevant.

The matter must be related to choices. Many people talk about giving the women choices, talk about women’s reproductive rights and attempt at all costs not to involve men, forgetting one fundamental issue.

It is the medical professional who decides what is implanted in the woman and therefore any talk of a woman’s right to her own body ends with this fact

The reality of choices has also a hard landing. In the first instance, it takes a man and a woman to create an embryo. Therefore, as 50 per cent shareholders in the deal, men have every right to voice concerns, opinions and emotions on such a delicate matter. In the second instance, the couple undergoing IVF are not in control of the situation. They simply do not have a choice. They are at the mercy of the medical professional, who decides which embryos are most viable and which are not.

It is the medical professional who decides what is implanted in a woman and therefore any talk of a woman’s right to her own body ends with this fact. There is no right, but an invasion of the most intimate woman’s inner core, in both the emotional aspect as well as the physical realm.

These characteristics of IVF treatment have to be treated with respect. It is this human intervention which creates a highly debatable and controversial situation. The mere fact that IVF is an artificial process is already deemed borderline and ethical and science is steadily moving away from such issues. The Pope Paul the VI Institute for the Study of Human Reproduction works relentlessly in assisting infertile couples in a multitude of ways, which are far more beneficial and long-term than the present IVF procedure in use in Malta.

The institute works on the cause of infertility and addresses the issue and not the symptom. This in itself is far more ethical, humane and dignifying for the couple undergoing IVF and removes all doubt and ethical matters related to human embryo handling. So how come Fearne and Dalli did not consult with such an institute and consider the alternatives?

The stark reality is that this charade has nothing to do with children, nothing to do with improving the chances of success for IVF couples. These were just clichés used by the Prime Minister to cover himself, his team and appease the people’s sentiments.

These amendments were delivering an electoral promise made to the Malta Gay Rights Movement and there was absolutely no option but to pass the amendments as they were. Resolving heterosexual couple infertility problems would have not addressed the same-sex couples’ desire to bear children. There was no space for ethical consideration and there was no requirement of any regard for the children born from such procedures.

The wording was carefully scripted by Fearne and Dalli, in that they insisted this is about giving any prospective parents a better chance to bearing children.

Whether same-sex couples should have the same rights to bear children as heterosexual couples is a matter of personal opinion, but the matter of regard towards children should have had universal consensus. The whole messa in scena was rotten at the core, as it saw the interests of the adults once again, placed ahead of the interests of children, using the same children as marionettes in the hands of the puppet master.

May those MPs who voted in favour of these amendments find inner peace and feel that they can sleep at night knowing what they created.

As a side note, I just look forward to the day that the Catholic faith is removed from the Constitution and that the Church and State indeed separate. I just cannot stand watching hypocritical MPs attending Mass and then setting their faith aside to appease their electoral manifesto, especially when it comes to dealing with the most vulnerable in our society.

Steve Pace is a strategic thinker.

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