Godfrey Farrugia accuses Children’s Commissioner of ‘dehumanising children’

Farrugia continued to explain that the interests of the child – both born and unborn – are 'paramount', and that the Commissioner is a 'gatekeeper' and 'shield' to safeguard these rights

The Democratic Party MP Godfrey Farrugia has accused the Children’s Commissioner of “reinterpreting an ideological bias” in order to fit the Prime Minister’s agenda, and “dehumanising the dignity of the unborn child”.

Farrugia accused Pauline Miceli of not fulfilling her legal obligations of promoting special care and protection for children before and after birth after she came out in support of embryo freezing in the new law that will reform Malta's IVF regulations.

“I am afraid her line of thought is wrong on embryo freezing, and in my opinion she is not fulfilling her legal obligations,” Farrugia said.

Farrugia, who is fully in favour of IVF, was reacting to the Commissioner’s statement released on Monday, in which she expressed support for the amendments to the law.

Children's Commissioner Pauline Miceli
Children's Commissioner Pauline Miceli

“I have a lot of respect for the Commissioner,” Farrugia told this newspaper. “But she forgot her role. Her interest is children, and according to law, this includes both born and unborn children.”

While recognising the higher chances for a successful pregnancy with embryo freezing as opposed to egg freezing, Farrugia said this came with the cost of the “dehumanisation of human dignity” without any guarantee for the survival of the embryos.

He said the interests of the child – both born and unborn – were  “paramount” and that the Commissioner is a “gatekeeper” and “shield” to safeguard these rights.

But in her statement, Miceli explained that the new law touches upon three main rights of the child: the right to life and health, the right to identity and the right to stable and loving care.

The Bill, she said, provides a framework for embryo freezing in a way which maximises the chances of the embryo survival throughout the freezing and thawing process, and thus eventually to develop healthily. In this manner, the Bill respects children’s right to life and health. With regard to a child’s right to stable and loving care, Miceli said that the Bill’s proposed extension of eligibility to single or same sex parents is a “natural consequence” of the broader and more plural definition of family units.

Farrugia accused Miceli of justifying the Prime Minister’s “make-belief” that “civil rights are superior to the universal right to life,” and “accommodating to the appalling notion”.

PN spokesman ‘disappointed’

Similarly, Nationalist MP and spokesperson for family, children’s rights and rights of the unborn child, Claudio Grech, expressed disappointment at the Commissioner’s statement.

“One would have expected the Commissioner for Children to delve into the very serious impact and situations in which unborn children will find themselves in due course,” he told MaltaToday, citing the risk of termination by selection and the postponement of rights whilst frozen, as well as the “soul-less anonymity of parents” which the children would need to come to terms with in their childhood.

The Commissioner had said that the IVF Bill promotes the principle that the child’s identity lies in the relationship with the parents, irrespective of whether the child is biologically related to them.

But Grech thinks that the Commissioner opted for a “superficial” and “trivial” justification, which he said is “surreal to say the least.”

Pro-life organisation Life Network Foundation also reacted to the Commissioner’s statement, saying that she has “chosen to abdicate her duty and agree with the Bill.”

The Foundation said that freezing embryos puts the life of the baby in great danger, and reiterated the point that the Commissioner has a legal duty to look after the interests of both born and unborn children.

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