Pro-lifers on the warpath over embryo freezing plans

Gift Of Life claimMalta is “on the cusp” of legalising abortion by introducing embryo freezing

Pro-lifers Gift Of Life have deplored Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s statement in which he declared himself to be “resolute” to introduce embryo freezing, as a reform to Malta’s law on artificial insemination gets underway.

Malta’s law regulating in vitro fertilization was introduced in 2013 to ban embryo freezing and instead introduce the freezing of eggs – or oocyte vitrification – on the national health registry.

But GoL have accused Muscat of using his personal opinion on embryo freezing to “exert undue pressure” on an inter-ministerial review of the Embryo Protection Act.

“Can this but only be interpreted by persons of goodwill, as dishonesty and deceit, which is most unbecoming of a Prime Minister in a modern day democracy?” GoL said.

The pro-life lobby, which had unsuccessfully petitioned MPs to entrench the crime of abortion in the Maltese Constitution, also took issue with claims that the freezing of embryos would improve pregnancy outcomes.

“According to the Government’s very own statistics, Malta, where we only freeze the female egg and not embryos, enjoys a comparable, and at times, a better success rate for IVF treatment when compared to other European countries who have embryo freezing. What’s more, egg freezing or ‘vitrification’ as it is known, is in fact more cutting edge that the older embryo freezing method.”

Embryo freezing was only banned in 2013 after years of being practised by private hospitals. The new IVF law will limit the implantation in women of fertilised embryos to a maximum of two at one go, and allow up to five eggs being fertilised.

“The Prime Minister had previously reassured the pro-life movement that he and the Labour Party were pro-life. We reach out to him to demonstrate this in practice.

The proposal to freeze human embryos is a deep severe affront to us all. It carries grave adverse consequences for the respect and dignity of all human life, most urgently the unborn,” GoL said.

The group is also claiming that Malta is “on the cusp” of legalising abortion.

“Treating the embryo as a commodity severely devalues human life deserving of the utmost respect from conception. The Prime Minister is knowingly hastening what can only be a natural consequence, the legalization of abortion.”

Under the proposed law, frozen embryos not used by their parents will be available for adoption, but parents can seek a court order not to have their embryos put out for adoption.

GoL has questioned whether it would be unlawful for unused embryos to be disposed of. “If not, what other options are there given that one cannot force a woman to have these implanted?”

The group also claimed that embryo freezing would lead to the stockpiling of “hundreds of unused embryos” and that prospective parents would not want to adopt unused embryos.

GoL said that embryos not used for adoption instead face the fate of being frozen continuously, destroyed or given for scientific research.

“Consequently, all the unborn, not just those created through IVF, are relegated to a status equivalent to just another product devoid of rights and dignity. The public must be aware that as a result of an embryo freezing policy, the unborn child will instantly take on a new identity, one that is only respected if it is wanted or needed.”