Priest provokes Catholics in ‘the bubble’ on embryo genetic testing

Fr Colin Apap says status quo in IVF discriminates against parents with family history of genetic disorders

Fr Colin Apap
Fr Colin Apap

Catholic radio personality Fr Colin Apap has come out in favour of embryo genetic testing, insisting that current legislation discriminates against parents with a family history of genetic disorders.

The priest argues in an opinion piece appearing in this newspaper that “the status quo is discriminatory” and urges government to “act now”.

“People who have not accompanied couples who long to have a healthy child during their tortuous journey can never show genuine empathy,” Apap writes in a missive against “bigotry and insensitivity” expressed in the name of God and the Church by those he describes as living in “the bubble”.

Apap says that the government is proving that it is serious in implementing its electoral pledge to introduce PGT-M, following a strong mandate.

“Instead of the usual words and studies, this week it moved to legislate and amend the IVF laws to increase the birth of new healthy babies,” he writes.

Amendments to the IVF law started being debated in parliament last week and these include the introduction of pre-implantation genetic testing for monogenic disorders (PGT-M). The Opposition has come out against PGT, adopting the stand pushed by pro-life groups, including several church organisations.

Apap refers to the words expressed by Fr Peter Serracino Inglott 17 years ago when addressing parliament’s Social Affairs Committee that dealt with IVF, embryo freezing and research.

Fr Peter had told MPs embryo freezing was not equivalent to killing and also advocated stem cell research on unwanted embryos for therapeutic reasons.

“Those in the Bubble tend to ignore Fr Peter’s elaborate explanation. Fr Peter provides an enlightened position for lay politicians who have qualms about IVF, embryo freezing, genetic testing and embryo research,” Apap says.

He also provokes a debate on whether there is a constitutional argument to be made in favour of the introduction of abortion.

“I do understand that the IVF amendments are not intended to open the door for abortion. However, the challenge remains,” he writes, suggesting that a lay Constitution must seek balance between the rights and obligations of all its citizens and not just Catholics.

Out now in our Sunday print edition and available as a single-only PDF online