Saturday, 25 August 2012

Times: Pathetically Sad Arguments
Friday, August 3, 2012, 19:30 by Alison Bezzina

The worst kind of let downs are the ones you walk straight into. They’re the ones your better judgement warns you about but you just don’t listen.

And this is exactly what I did with the new IVF Bill.

I had convinced myself that the PN – the political party which was always at the forefront of human rights - would not blatantly discriminate against anyone based on their sexual orientation.

Silly me!

Given that the PN’s affair with The Church could reduce any self-respecting adulterer to a crying shame, I really don’t know why I expected anything different.

According to Minister Chris Said the proposed law is not discriminatory because it does not ‘specifically’ ban gay couples, but disallows sperm and egg donation even in the case of married or ‘stable’ heterosexual couples. The government’s concern he said is that children born through IVF are brought up in a family with a mother and a father because this is better for the children.

Puhhhlease! Your idea of a family couldn’t get more restrictive even if you squeezed your big head into your three year old’s beanie!
The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines reproductive rights as the basic right of ALL couples to decide freely and responsibly the number and timing of their children. It also includes their right to make decisions concerning reproduction FREE OF DISCRIMINATION, coercion and violence.
But what does the world’s most specialised and highly respected health agency know? In Malta we’re different, we know better, and our arguments are sound and justified:
The ‘UNNATURAL’ argument
Some argue that denying IVF to homosexual couples or single people is not discriminatory because it is after all ‘unnatural’ to have two mothers or two fathers or a single parent conceive in the first place.
Conveniently they fail to see the irony of their argument of course. Conveniently they fail to realise that IVF is an unnatural thing all together, and that if biological infertility is nature’s way of prohibiting an individual from bearing children, then perhaps we shouldn’t tamper with nature even if it’s being unkind to heterosexual couples.
The ‘CHOICE’ argument
Some insightful bigots argue that homosexuals are infertile because of their lifestyle choice and that it is therefore not justified to use IVF technology in such circumstances. But I wonder what they’d have to say about the women who end up needing IVF because they delay having children giving priority to their careers during their childbearing years? Should we deny these older women IVF because they are only infertile thanks to their lifestyle choice? And whilst we’re at it, why don’t we go one step further and deny treatment to smokers who develop lung cancer, or even orthopaedic surgery to the endurance athlete?
The ‘FAMILY’ argument
Whilst I understand that many of us come from family backgrounds which included a mother, a father, and 2.5 siblings, how hard can it be to realise that family dynamics are changing and that divorced parents, single parents and same sex parents are all over the place? And how hard can it be to get our head around the fact that they are only as unnatural as the nuclear family was when it replaced the extended family during the industrial revolution?
Of course, this is not to say that there aren’t pre-requisites that should be present in our definition of a family, but these qualities are certainly not two parents of the opposite sex. The requirements are simply love, support and a sense of belonging.
The ‘VOLATILE’ argument
Some boldly maintain that homosexual relationships are volatile (as opposed to stable) and that this could be harmful to the child. Can you hear me laughing out loud?
Pathetic isn’t it? So, on the one hand we have irrefutable proof that straight marriages break down and that the rate of breakdowns is on the increase, and on the other we have absolutely no proof whatsoever that homosexual relationships break down at a higher rate than heterosexual ones, because, lo and behold, same sex marriages are not yet possible. So, saying that homosexual relationships are less stable than homosexual ones is nothing but an unfair bigoted unfounded attack based on zilch.
The ‘MONEY’ argument
Lack of funds and resources is always an issue especially when it comes to the medical field. One very strong argument in favour of refusing IVF treatment to homosexuals is that there is not enough money to fund everyone. But then why is it ok to just refuse homosexuals treatment? Why don’t we apply the same logic to IVF as we apply to organ transplants?
The recipients of donor organs are chosen based on the urgency of the case and the probable success rate of that transplant? If someone’s chances of surviving an organ transplant are grim, the organ goes to another patient with better chances of survival, so that the organ is not ‘wasted’.
If we had to apply this same logic to IVF treatment, then for this argument to hold water, there would have to be undeniable proof that lesbian pregnancies are less successful than heterosexual ones.
The ‘RELIGIOUS’ argument
Malta's Adoption Act permits adoption by married couples and single persons, and it does not in any way specify the sexual orientation of prospective adoptive parents. This means that in the eyes of the law competency to be a parent has absolutely nothing to do with your marital status or sexual orientation.
But of course, being the morally twisted country that we are, despite of the law, some IVF practitioners might refuse to treat homosexual couples or single women based on their religious or moral beliefs. And though, like most religious arguments there is no valid reason to do this, in the name of freedom of religion, THEY CAN. 

[Click on the hyperlink above to view the comments on the Times' website.]

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