Activist Lara Calleja weighs in on PGT debate: 'Let us not romanticise disability'

Activist and writer Lara Calleja, who suffers from a disability, slams ‘pathetic propaganda’ featured on an advert on church radio station 103 Malta’s Heart: ‘These kind of statements are so wrong on so many levels’

Lara Calleja
Lara Calleja

Activist and writer Lara Calleja, a person with a disability, has come out in favour of PGT testing saying disabilities should not be romanticised.

“People like me who suffer from a chronic condition, and can pass it on to my children, can consider having children of my own because of the tests (even though my condition is not yet on the list),” she said in a Facebook post.

Embryo genetic testing will soon be possible as part of in-vitro fertilisation treatment after parliament overwhelmingly approved changes to the law on Wednesday.

The amendments were approved with 66 votes in favour and three against.

Academics, several pro-life groups and the Catholic church have officially come out against pre-implantation genetic testing, claiming it causes discrimination against sick and disabled people.

Lara Calleja's Facebook post
Lara Calleja's Facebook post

The vote also saw PN MPs Adrian Delia, Alex Borg and Ivan Bartolo disregarded the party Whip and vote against the amendments. PN MP Carm Mifsud Bonnici, who was absent from parliament because sickness, later registered his opposition to the law.

But Calleja, who suffers from a physical disability, has called out opponents of the Bill. “We are at the ridiculous point where we are protecting a fertilised egg, which is not yet in the womb – are we going crazy?”

“While I love and accept who I am – in no universe will I say that I wanted to have this disability,” she said. “I don’t want my children to start their life with such a large disadvantage – irrelevant of the love and respect that I have received; my disability has been a trauma whose consequences I still suffer from.”

She said it would be unfair to drag a person’s life through that “misery”. “Why? So a small group of people can boast about a fertilised egg?”

Calleja compared the ongoing debate related to PGT testing with that of IVF back in 2005, when parliament first started exploring the regularisation of assisted procreation.

“They used to say that ‘we shouldn’t play with human life’… but now 15 years down the line, how many people and family members do you know who have had children through IVF?” she said.

She said disability should not be romanticised, calling out the ‘pathetic propaganda’ featured on an advert on church radio station 103 Malta’s Heart. “These kinds of statements are so wrong on so many levels.”

Calleja's position in favour of PGT testing echoes that of Labour politician Gianluca Cutajar. Cutajar suffers from the rare condition known as Spinal Muscular Atrophy, which causes physical disability and, in some cases, only allows the person to live for five years.

Cutajar went on to say that he will continue adapting his life as he has always done but insisted, he would do everything to ensure any future children he may have will not inherit SMA from him.

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