Malta Removes Protections from Human Embryos
Controversial amendments to the Embryo Protection Act have been approved by Malta’s parliament. Opposition MPs were granted a free vote but all voted against the bill. The vote came a few hours after a lawyer filed a constitutional application arguing, among other things, that the amendments should be declared null because they breached constitutional provisions on the right to life and respect for human life in all its stages.
Pro-life groups had staunchly resisted the bill, saying that embryo freezing was being introduced by choice and not in exceptional cases and this was not in the interest of embryos that were not given a chance to be born and whose life was being put in danger.
More than 500 doctors also protested that amendments to the bill meant that an even higher number of embryos could remain frozen indefinitely.
Plans to introduce surrogacy were dropped from the bill while it was in the parliamentary process, and will feature in a separate legislation. Children born from gamete donation will be given the right to know the identity of their genetic parents, once they turn 18. The amendments also permit same-sex couples and single parents to access IVF procedures.
In comments before the vote, Health Minister Chris Fearne, who piloted the bill, said he was “proud” to be spearheading reforms to IVF laws which would open up the process to single parents and same-sex couples as well as extend embryo freezing.
Addressing a press conference before the vote, Opposition leader Dr Adrian Delia said he and the other PN members would be voting against the amendments. The Opposition, he said, was against anything that led to the destruction of life.
The government, he said, had ridiculed public concerns. The law was unacceptable, as it gave a minister the power to decide who should be born and who should not.
“This is a law that strips our society of its humanity,” he said. It also destroyed the concept of the family and created a “soulless state”. Fielding questions from reporters, Dr Delia said a future Nationalist government would revoke any laws that led to the destruction of human life.
Times of Malta. June 19.