Children’s commissioner dismisses MP's call for Minor Protection Act to include unborn child

The commission said that ‘heavy-handed’ approaches which reduced pregnant women to quasi-surrogate mothers are not conducive to the child’s best interests

The Commissioner for Children said that reducing pregnant women to quasi-surrogates was not conducive to the child's best interests
The Commissioner for Children said that reducing pregnant women to quasi-surrogates was not conducive to the child's best interests

The Commissioner for Children has dismissed calls by the Nationalist Opposition for a foetus to be included in the Minor Protection Act, currently being debated by parliament.

PN MP Claudio Grech - the party’s spokesperson on the 'protection of the unborn child' - told Parliament on Monday that including the foetus in the definition of child in the proposed law would send a strong signal that the unborn child deserved the same protection human beings were entitled to.

But in a statemen on Tuesday afternoon, the Office of the Commissioner for Children pointed out that before birth, the foetus is still dependent on the mother to survive. 

“The Minor Protection (Alternative Care) Bill may not be the best legal instrument for protecting the child before birth,” the office said.

“This owing to the natural symbiosis that binds the unborn child to the pregnant mother, which symbiotic relationship is crucial to the unborn child’s healthy development. This means that in the context of a child developing in its mother’s womb, there can be no alternative form of care to that provided by the pregnant mother.”

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The commission went on to say that “the best form of protection for the unborn child lies in strengthening the supporting familial and organizational structure around the pregnant mother”.

This, it said, could be accomplished by having “more accessible, tailored, better-quality antenatal health and social services that empower and support pregnant parents to carry their pregnancy to term in the best interest of their child”.

“Heavy-handed approaches which risk making the pregnant woman feel like, or actually reduce her to the status of a quasi-surrogate mother are not conducive to the child’s best interests.”

The office concluded by urging MPs to approve the Minor Protection Act without further delay. 

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