by Ms Eleanor Borg –Eleanor Borg is a psychotherapist and Gift of Life Malta member
Embryo freezing and adoption, gamete donation and surrogacy are being debated and I hope serious considerations aretaken on the matter prior to amending the present laws.
I have listened to the different voices who spoke on the matter: the heartbreaking realties of couples who cannot conceive and go through the painstaking process of IVF; individuals who consider embryo freezing, gamete donation and surrogacy as an ingenious method which will enable individuals who cannot conceive to have their own children in the name of equality;
The medical professionals and law makers who seem to be split on the issue; the by-standers on the street and social media, who say those who disagree with the proposed laws are heartless or ethical and those who are in agreement are progressive or unethical; there are others who are indifferent or find the issue too complicated to consider the implications of these measures.
I have also heard the voice of individuals born through gamete donation who struggle because they do not know their true identity. I am one of the many who disagree with such practices, however I am not in disagreement because I am heartless or because I do not believe in equality.
I disagree because we are manipulating the foundations of humanity.
We have moved away from the reverential truth of such a magnificent form of communication which is the source of life
This debate revolves around life; the fulcrum upon which all else stands. The word embryo is a definition that describes life itself; when the sperm enters the egg and together they become and contain the blueprints of a new human life.
How else does an embryo come to be, other than through the careful manipulation of a scientist in the lab known as in vitro fertilisation? We know that a life is created through the most intimate forms of contact between a male and a female.
The human body is designed so as to enable a couple to become one, an intimacy that is hopefully built on commitment, love and trust. During this most intimate of moments a life may come about.
Life, as intended, comes about through oneness, trust, loving and enjoying one another. This form of physical, psychological and spiritual intimacy, which may contribute to life, is at times taken for granted, abused of and misunderstood.
We have moved away from the reverential truth of such a magnificent form of communication which is the source of life.
When we create life in the laboratory we are also moving away from this intimacy. We start to tamper with life outside the human embrace of love and sexuality where the tapestry of life is meant to be created and protected.
This movement alters the natural and holistic process of procreation, which tempts us to open the door to further scientific exploration and manipulation.
We are now potentially moving even further away from this oneness, by considering the freezing of life; embryo adoption; surrogacy and combining reproductive parts of strangers to create a life which is biologically, genetically and psychologically unrelated to the caregivers of the child.
This is fragmentation at the core; ripping at the biological, genetic and interpersonal belonging. I am of the understanding that we need to look at the natural and holistic process of procreation between man and woman as a design to be respected.
We are not the creators and we need to respect this truth and let it guide us.
Lately, on local television, a lady made a very important statement: if one is aware of an existing reproductive technology, which provided couples who are unable to conceive, with their own child, why would one not consider it. This statement highlights the responsibility of scientists, law makers and those in authority to act with humility and an awareness of the repercussions their decisions will have.
Moreover, the responsibility of those in power to impart knowledge truthfully and effectively with society. People will reach out to what is existing and lawful because they should trust those in authority. Sadly it is clear that some professionals in the medical field do not consider the embryo as a life. Yet, worldwide, including Malta, highly qualified influential people from the medical, scientific and legal world have expressed that life begins at conception.
If professionals who have authority to change the law believe that the embryo is not yet a life but has only the potential for life, then we are starting on the wrong foot.
Such statements are misleading. When one looks at the processes of life from this perspective then we give ourselves the permission to manipulate it as we please.
This issue is delicate, moral, scientific and value laden and one needs to be truthful and knowledgeable about the matter to make an informed decision.
To understand what embryo freezing, embryo adoption, gamete donation and surrogacy mean, one has to consider all aspects and their serious implications; the genetic, psychological, spiritual and legal both on the intrapersonal and interpersonal of all those affected and this requires research and time.
I appeal to those in authority to take these issues very seriously and acknowledge that life starts at conception. Truths upon which our human identity and social fabric are built, are not to be tampered with. Life is to be reverenced, the embryo is the beginning of a new life and we need to be humble enough to acknowledge that the gift of life is sacred and larger than our life itself.