While the Disability Commission supports IVF embryo testing, the Church is against it. According to the commission, adults should have the choice to choose whether or not to pass on their illnesses to their offspring.
Before allowing embryos created via in vitro fertilisation to be implanted in a woman’s uterus, the Committee for the ‘People with Disabilities and their rights’ has given its support to measures proposed by the government to enable testing of embryos for nine very uncommon genetic disorders.
It said that individuals should have the opportunity to choose whether or not they want to transfer their genetic problems to their offspring.
The declaration was released by the commission only one day after parliamentary discussion on the inclusion of genetic screening of foetuses as a part of the larger statute governing in vitro fertilisation (IVF) had begun.
In addition to expressing support for the initiative, it made the observation that in accordance with the Convention of the United Nations on the People with Disabilities and their rights, Malta is required to ensure health facilities and services, such as early detection and intervention when it is deemed necessary, as well as services that are designed to minimise and pre-empt chances for future disabilities.
It also said that it was logical that DNA screening prior to implantation has to be accessible to individuals who wish to prevent passing on genetic problems to their kids.
On Thursday, the minister for Health, Chris Fearne, unveiled a procedure that, if implemented, would make it possible to screen for nine specific diseases, and also provide room for the Embryo Protection Authority to add more diseases to the list in the future.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRPD) stated that it backed the legislative proposals because the method included in proposed law’s text had a specific list of conditions in which the quality of life was seriously affected, referenced to DNA counselling (before, during, and after the test results and procedure), and the decision of the parent(s) to determine whether to do the check and proceed with the insertion of a diagnosed embryo.
In the previous several weeks, “the voice of persons who are aware that they could pass on a genetic condition to their offspring, should they chose to reproduce, has been noticeably absent,” the report said.
“Unfortunately, people whose sole relationship with the subject matter is exclusively intellectual, professional, or moral were able to successfully hijack the public conversation,”
To paraphrase the Archbishop: life must be honoured from the moment of conception forward.
On Thursday, Archbishop Charles Scicluna voiced his opposition to the embryo testing that was being done.
During the course of his daily Mass, he emphasised the importance of life beginning at conception and the need to respect it even at that early period, regardless of the circumstances. In reference to pre-genetic testing, he inquired about the disposition of embryos that were discovered to be at risk of developing a disease. Would they be discarded after use?
And if not, was it accurate to say that one in every five people would still pass away during the test?
When determining whether or not they were healthy, does it make any sense to murder one out of every five of them?
The archbishop said, “Let us be cautious and not play about with God’s plan on the matter of life and let us have clarity on what we say, as I trust I am.”