Embryo freezing ‘unnecessary and unreasonable’ Church says

Changes to the Embryo Protection Act are not necessary, Catholic Church position paper concludes

The Catholic Church has clearly pronounced itself against embryo freezing by insisting that it was “scientifically unnecessary and unreasonable.”

The Church had not yet made its position clear following the Prime Minister’s declaration is September over his intention to re-introduce embryo freezing but in a position paper published on saturtday, the Church said “the prevailing scientific data and the results obtained from local IVF treatment to date demonstrate that the introduction of embryo freezing in Malta is scientifically unnecessary and unreasonable.”

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat had declared that he will forge ahead with plans to re-introduce embryo freezing, which was banned in 2013 under the Embryo Protection Act made law by the Nationalist government.

“I am resolute to introduce embryo freezing,” Muscat told MaltaToday in a clear message to legislators on both sides of the political divide who are expected to vote on the amendments in the coming weeks.

However, two government backbenchers, Marlene Farrugia and Deborah Schembri have defiantly stated that they would be voting against embryo-freezing.

On the other hand, despite former PN leader and prime minister Lawrence Gonzi’s alarmist, albeit principled stance against embryo-freezing, PN leader Simon Busuttil has so far failed to take a stand on an issue which once again risks splitting party liberals and conservatives.

In its position paper, the Church argued against any changes to the current law which it said “safeguards the legitimate interests of the prospective child and it champions appropriate standards of ethics in fertility treatment.”

It pointed out that the current legislation which was passed just three years ago was enacted unanimously by all MPs after an exhaustive consultative process that involved all stakeholders on a truly national level.

“Most importantly, this Act was all about protecting the human embryo - a value that is still clearly held in high esteem in Malta - and should be affirmed rather than destroyed,” the Church said.

The Church drew up these conclusions after consulting a group of experts in the field of clinical medicine, law, psychology, social policy, family studies, disability studies, philosophy and theology.

The paper also concluded that, on the basis of legal, medical and ethical arguments, the Embryo Protection Act should be maintained as is, for it strongly upholds the dignity and integrity of the human embryo.

“Moreover, the involvement of third parties via gamete donation and surrogacy will create serious dilemmas of parentage while raising serious ethical, legal and psychosocial issues,” it said.

Archbishop Charles Scicluna and Bishop Mario Grech welcomed the conclusions of the group which was coordinated by the University of Malta’s Faculty of Theology.