Maltese bishops call for natural solutions to infertility as country

The bishops conclude that “every technical method which replaces the
personal conjugal act fails to respect the dignity of the human person and
of the unity of marriage and so this is not acceptable.”

BY Peter Baklinski

VALLETTA, Malta, July 31, 2012 ( – Maltese Bishops have
weighed-in heavily on the in vitro fertilization (IVF) debate that has
engulfed the small nominally Catholic country. The bishops strategically
released a pastoral letter 24 hours prior to the release of the country’s
first proposed law that would regulate, rather than ban, the country’s
IVF-based reproductive business that has been operating for over two decades
with no restrictions.

The proposed Embryo Protection Act 2012 is considered to be a very
restrictive law banning cloning, freezing, experimentation, and willful
destruction of embryos. However, the bishops have come out condemning all
forms of IVF as a “morally wrong”, anti-personal, and inhuman solution
to infertility and have suggested that laws be crafted which treat
infertility using natural solutions that at the same time “respect the
dignity of the human person and of the unity of marriage”.

“The statement the bishops issued last week was opportune and ought to be
considered seriously by everyone involved,” said Paul Vincenti, president
and founder of Gift of Life Foundation in Malta to LifeSiteNews.

Calling it their “duty as spiritual shepherd” to guide married couples,
scientists, and politicians so that they may “form their consciences
rightly on a subject such as human life”, Archbishop of Malta Paul Cremona
and Bishop of Gozo Mario Grech reiterated three “fundamental values” in
Church teaching that they say must be adhered to during fertility treatment
for it to be moral.

The “value of life and the physical integrity of every person” must be
“protected from the very moment of conception until the moment of natural
death of the human person”. The bishops point out that “any form of
discrimination” with respect to different stages of life “cannot be
justified and must be upheld like any other form of discrimination”.

Furthermore, the value of a married couple’s “conjugal unity and
fidelity” — whereby a “married man and woman, through their reciprocal
gift of love, bring one another to perfection” — must be protected from
“rupture” which is suffered when a “third party” is introduced for
the sake of “artificial fertilization”.

Finally, the “value of human sexuality in marriage” must be protected
whereby the “conception of a human person” is the fruit of the “mutual
self-giving love of the married couple”.

The bishops conclude that “every technical method which replaces the
personal conjugal act fails to respect the dignity of the human person and
of the unity of marriage and so this is not acceptable.”

They point out that technical methods to aid procreation are permissible
when they “aid the personal conjugal act to achieve its aim, that is to
conceive human life,” such as in the case of NaPro Technology developed by
Dr. Thomas W. Hilgers.

“A law which does not safe-guard these values is morally wrong” they

The act deems it unlawful with a fine up to $18,000 USD for anyone who
“artificially fertilizes any egg cell for any purpose other than that of
bringing about the pregnancy of the woman from whom the cell originated”.
Only two eggs cells can be legally fertilized from one woman within one
“treatment cycle”. The law forbids discarding embryos for “eugenic
purposes”. Surrogate mothers are also not permitted.

Furthermore, the law would prohibit “all forms” of embryo preservation,
including cryopreservation where ‘leftover’ embryos after a cycle of in
vitro fertilization are frozen and stored at temperatures as low as -196
°C or -321 °F.

The proposed law would also prohibit sex-selective artificial fertilization,
cloning, tampering with the genetic information of a human germ line cell,
chimerae and hybrids, experimentation on human embryos, and willful
destruction of embryos.

Regarding parenthood, the law states that “any prospective parent”,
either “two persons of the opposite sex who are united in marriage, or who
have attained the age of majority and are in a stable relationship with each
other” shall have “access to medically assisted procreation
procedures”. The law would therefore exclude people in same-sex
relationships from procuring children by means of reproductive technology
while at the same time allowing an unmarried man and woman to undergo the

The law also makes it clear that doctors will be “under no obligation”
to participate in assisted procreation procedures “when such professional
considers such participation objectionable as a matter of conscience and
declares his objection beforehand”.

Maltese doctors who currently offer IVF to their patients as a solution to
infertility claim that the new regulations will hamper business, some
suggesting that they will have to close shop if the proposed regulations
become law.

“Sur Ministru, you are telling us literally to shut down,” wrote Pawlu
Sultana, head of medical services at St James Hospital, in a comment posted
on Facebook as reported by MaltaToday.

Josie Muscat, owner of St James Hospital, told MaltaToday that the
government is “trying to please everybody. Except patients” adding that
it will be difficult for him to keep his embryologists employed.

But Malta’s bishops have pointed out that “everybody” includes humans
at their “embryonic stage” and that these little ones must be afforded
rights and protections by civil law.

“Human life should be safe-guarded and its integrity promoted from the
very moment of conception. This obligation stems from the dignity of the
human person which is at the foundation of all human rights.”

The Embryo Protection Act will be open for public consultation until
September 14. The proposed act must be approved by a parliamentary majority
before it becomes law.

Michelle Joseph
t. 011 648 5860
m. 082 609 6919

Mailing List
To subscribe, please complete the form below:

Your Name

Your Email Address