Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Malta Today: Chris Said: IVF bill not discriminatory

Minister says IVF children should be born in family with father and mother as parents.
Wednesday 1 August 2012 - 17:00

Justice minister Chris Said.

Justice minister Chris Said has defended the draft law regulating in vitro fertilisation, which excludes same-sex couples, saying the government's interest is for children to be brought up in a family with a mother and a father.

"We feel this is better for the children," he said earlier today in a visit to the National Council of Women.

Prospective parents have to be certified by the new embryology authority, which according to the draft Embryo Protection law can only be married couples or opposite-sex couples in a stable relationship.

Said said the bill, which offers egg-freezing as a medical procedure and not standard IVF due to its ban on the freezing of embryos and sperm or egg donation, offered couples "a bigger opportunity than what's available on the market."

The only private operator that offers IVF in Malta does not provide for the freezing of embryos, which means that more than two embryos can be implanted inside women, a practice that has been criticised in the press due to the adverse health consequences this can be result in.

The Malta Gay Rights Movement yesterday hit out at Malta's draft law for the regulation of in vitro fertilization, claiming the Embryo Protection Bill was discriminatory against gay parents and "inherently homophobic in nature".

MGRM coordinator Gabi Calleja said the exclusion of same-sex couples and single persons from the eligible prospective parents as defined in the law, went against basic human rights principles such as the right to found a family.

The bill also prohibits surrogacy, which means electing another woman other than a married spouse to bear the child for another couple.

Calleja said a law that would deny medical treatment on the basis of sexual orientation would constitute a worrying precedent. "It has reaching implications and engenders serious doubts in the minds of lesbian and gay citizens on this government's commitment to equality."

The draft law also prohibits the donation of sperm and eggs, which would otherwise make it possible for single parents or gay couples to have children by IVF.

"The criminalisation of sperm and egg donation has absolutely nothing to do with the protection of the embryo and is based on a restrictive model of the family which no longer applies in today's world. MGRM reiterates that it is not the role of the State to determine who can or cannot become a parent and the introduction of this Act would constitute an unjustified intrusion in the private lives of individuals," Calleja said.

"It is truly shameful that LGBT persons will be forced to access reproductive health services in other countries at their own expense while subsidising the health services available to their heterosexual counterparts with their tax contributions, once again reinforcing the notion of second class citizenship."

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