[WATCH] Bernard Grech hints PN may not support embryo genetic testing in proposed IVF law changes

Xtra on TVM News Plus | Bernard Grech: ‘We agree with IVF but what is being proposed is the selection of embryos…’

Bernard Grech: 'There are amendments I agree with, some that need to change and others that I do not like'
Bernard Grech: 'There are amendments I agree with, some that need to change and others that I do not like'

Bernard Grech has hinted the Nationalist Party may not support embryo genetic testing proposed by government in amendments to the law regulating in-vitro fertilisation.

On TVM News Plus’ Xtra, the PN leader said there were amendments he agreed with, some that needed to change and others “that I do not like”.

“Some amendments are not necessarily linked to IVF and how we can assist couples have children but what is being proposed is the selection embryos; the selection of life,” Grech said on Monday night.

The reference is to pre-implantation genetic testing of embryos that is being proposed by the government as an integral part of the IVF treatment in cases of known serious hereditary diseases and disorders. The testing will indicate whether the embryo carries the same defective genes of the parents, allowing doctors to implant in the womb only the healthy embryos. Defective embryos will be frozen.

The PN has not yet pronounced itself on the matter and it remains unclear how the party will vote at every stage of the parliamentary debate that is slated to start on Wednesday. When the IVF law was last amended in 2018, then party leader Adrian Delia had given his MPs a free vote although the Opposition eventually voted against.

Grech said the PN parliamentary group has discussed the matter and more discussions will be held.

“We want to help people have children but life also has value for us… these are decisions that impact life and on this aspect, the PN has always been clear that it seeks the protection of life from conception to death,” Grech said.

Pressed on the use of PGT to avoid babies being born with debilitating hereditary diseases, Grech cautioned against statements that could hurt people.

“There are people who have children with difficulties, such as Down’s Syndrome, who tell you their children are the best thing that happened to them. Not everybody sees perfection as the best thing and let us be careful how we discuss things,” Grech cautioned.

The Opposition leader insisted that it was a Nationalist government in 2012 that introduced legislation regulating IVF.

When it was pointed out that the law at the time was very restrictive – it did not allow gamete donation, IVF was only available to heterosexual women in a relationship, embryo freezing was not possible and only a maximum of three eggs could be fertilised – Grech stuck to his point that it was a PN government that introduced IVF.

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Roberta Metsola remains a PN MEP

On European Parliament President Roberta Metsola and her decision to take a step back in last March’s general election, the PN leader said he understood the situation given her high-profile EU role.

“She understands that she has a strong voice and has to be careful how to use it because she represents the European Parliament,” Grech said, adding that he understood Metsola’s position. “At the end of the day, Roberta Metsola remains a PN MEP and arrived where she arrived because she was part of the PN.”