Chris Said: IVF bill not discriminatory

Minister says IVF children should be born in family with father and mother as parents.

Justice minister Chris Said.
Justice minister Chris Said.

Justice minister Chris Said has defended the draft law regulating in vitro fertilisation, which excludes same-sex couples, saying the government's interest is for children to be brought up in a family with a mother and a father.

"We feel this is better for the children," he said earlier today in a visit to the National Council of Women.

Prospective parents have to be certified by the new embryology authority, which according to the draft Embryo Protection law can only be married couples or opposite-sex couples in a stable relationship.

Said said the bill, which offers egg-freezing as a medical procedure and not standard IVF due to its ban on the freezing of embryos and sperm or egg donation, offered couples "a bigger opportunity than what's available on the market."

The only private operator that offers IVF in Malta does not provide for the freezing of embryos, which means that more than two embryos can be implanted inside women, a practice that has been criticised in the press due to the adverse health consequences this can be result in.

The Malta Gay Rights Movement yesterday hit out at Malta's draft law for the regulation of in vitro fertilization, claiming the Embryo Protection Bill was discriminatory against gay parents and "inherently homophobic in nature".

MGRM coordinator Gabi Calleja said the exclusion of same-sex couples and single persons from the eligible prospective parents as defined in the law, went against basic human rights principles such as the right to found a family.

The bill also prohibits surrogacy, which means electing another woman other than a married spouse to bear the child for another couple.

Calleja said a law that would deny medical treatment on the basis of sexual orientation would constitute a worrying precedent. "It has reaching implications and engenders serious doubts in the minds of lesbian and gay citizens on this government's commitment to equality."

The draft law also prohibits the donation of sperm and eggs, which would otherwise make it possible for single parents or gay couples to have children by IVF.

"The criminalisation of sperm and egg donation has absolutely nothing to do with the protection of the embryo and is based on a restrictive model of the family which no longer applies in today's world. MGRM reiterates that it is not the role of the State to determine who can or cannot become a parent and the introduction of this Act would constitute an unjustified intrusion in the private lives of individuals," Calleja said.

"It is truly shameful that LGBT persons will be forced to access reproductive health services in other countries at their own expense while subsidising the health services available to their heterosexual counterparts with their tax contributions, once again reinforcing the notion of second class citizenship."

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Malcolm Mifsud
A dangerous bill which goes totally against liberal European thought which emphasizes the freedom of choice of women and couples. It will redefine the concept of protection of the human embryo wherein even a pronucleate two cell mass right after fertilization will be considered as a human being. All liberal MPs must oppose this bill which goes against what the parliamentary committee on IVF had proposed. This bill can be delayed for further reflection and study because what is immediately needed is the right of couples to treatment in state hospitals especially for those who cannot afford an expensive private treatment . This is a separate issue and we can start by following the procedure of direct implantation of two fertilized eggs back into the uterus which appears to raise no ethical and moral problems in our civil society.
Mark Warner
I am a gay person but I personally feel that Gabi Calleja has gone over the limit. Yes IVF should be there for prospective gay parents BUT not unless basic rights are first acquired. Let us be realistic Gabi, first we have to see what the promised Cohabition Law will state, we will most probably have to improve on this law to get equality and once that the ball really starts rolling than we can start talking on IVF regulation for same-sex couples. Charles Bayliss
Franco Masini
Free IVF should be available to homosexual couples once scientists find a way to create a zygote from two sperm cells, or two ova, with one each coming the homosexual partners.
Antonio Pace
When you treat people differenly on the basis of sexual orientation or any other ground, you are discriminating. That is the normal meaning of the word. The question then arises whether that discrimination is justified or not. The onus is on the government to demonstrate that it is justified dscrimintion. Imposing one's values on the pretext of whatis best for children is farcical especially coming from a government that has pissed on the interests of children when it comes to clerical abuse of children. What has this governmet done in their interest in the regard? Sweet bugger all! Hypocites!
anton sciberras
It is probably possible to show statistically that children from certain cities in Malta fare worse than others academically and socially. Would the minister be willing to propose that IVF be prohibited to couples hailing from those localities, especially if those cities are part of his electoral district? After all you could say that this too would be "better for the children". Minister Said, this bill is intentionally discriminatory. The people of Malta have already shown that they want a clear separation of church and state, and this bill is nothing short of a bishop's wet dream.
john zerafa
For the umpteenth time we let religion interfere with matters of the state. Didn't you learn your lesson yet? When the dickens are you going to learn???
It seems that the IVF bill was made in the dungeons of the Curia and brought forward by their puppets the PN ... they planed it in a way that it will be very difficult for women to get pregnant and single handedly they are discriminating against single women and prospective same sex parents, and even in that there is an injustice between same sex partners being women or men !! The bill as presented is going to open a far much more bigger discussion that the IVF issue! For the Minister to state that the law will only agevolate families with a mother and a father is per se discriminatory... What scientific, social and psychological studies has he to prove that children with a father and a mother is better that a single or same sex parents ?? The only thing they have is the imposition from the bigot conservative church that as always is dictating them what to do in face of respecting the on going change in our society! First of all to start such a discussion on what is best for our children the Govt must make a drastic reshuffle in social welfare regarding children, till now the Govt can't say what is best for because as things are if a social worker is told to help a child they have no power to act and things are kept quiet as much as possible. There are many children that aren't raised in a good environment even though they are born in a family with a mother and father, what can the authority do? What are the authorities doing?? NOTHING !! So before you start blathering about families it's better you start to act not just dream about things that you have no proof of, Minister Said !!
This is total discrimination, Every one should be entitled to IVF. Who is to say that a child born into a family has a better life than a child born to same sex couples. I am a married woman who has two children but I honestly think it should be fair to anyone who wants to have a child should have the chance if they can not have a child normally. I can see the church must be happy yet again. TOTAL DISGRACE.
Paul Debono
I fully agree with minister Said that a family is composed of a father a mother and children. – There is a great difference between a couple wanting to have children and can not because of some medical/other problem and a LGBT couple wanting to have children but they can not because it is against the law of nature. – As someone commented on another article this week, I hope that if an LGBT couple go abroad to have and IVF they would not return to Malta and claim “single mothers” social benefits.
Johann Tonna
I feel that it is slightly discriminatory, Dr. Said.

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