Aca­demics, au­di­ence mem­bers butt heads on ga­mete do­na­tion, sur­ro­gacy

Malta Independent - - NEWS - He­lena Grech

Three aca­demics brought to Malta by pro-life groups on is­sues sur­round­ing ga­mete do­na­tion and sur­ro­gacy on Mon­day butted heads with stake­hold­ers when mak­ing pre­sen­ta­tions be­fore par­lia­ment’s health com­mit­tee.

Life Net­work Foun­da­tion, a pro­life NGO, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Sal­lox, an as­so­ci­a­tion for the Euro­pean Chris­tian Po­lit­i­cal Move­ment (ECPM) or­gan­ised a de­bate be­fore the par­lia­men­tary health com­mit­tee as part of the wider de­bate on pro­posed amend­ments of em­bryo pro­tec­tion act. Three aca­demics pre­sented their peer-re­viewed stud­ies and aca­demic re­search in the fields of sur­ro­gacy and ga­mete do­na­tion.

Dr E.E. Esme Wieg­man-van Mep­pe­len Schep­pink and Dr Christophe Foltzen­lo­gel both dis­cussed sur­ro­gacy while Dr. Joanna Rose pri­mar­ily spoke about ga­mete do­na­tion.

A rep­re­sen­ta­tive from LNF said that this was “or­gan­ised in­de­pen­dently of pol­i­tics”, stress­ing that “in­formed dis­cus­sion is an es­sen­tial part of the demo­cratic process, it is not about rush­ing through laws to give peo­ple what they want. Ga­mete do­na­tion and sur­ro­gacy are very sen­si­tive is­sues.”

Rose spoke of the “an­guish” that many donor off­spring have been “born into”. She de­scribed her ex­pe­ri­ence of be­ing a prod­uct of ga­mete do­na­tion, and how she was born into an ul­tra-lib­eral fam­ily. She spoke of be­com­ing sad when hear­ing a fa­mous song “An­nie you’re not my daddy” upon dis­cov­er­ing her fa­ther is not her ge­netic one.

She wrote a the­sis on the prac­tices of sperm do­na­tion. “There is very lit­tle to counter the con­flict of in­ter­est of in­fer­til­ity clin­ics,” she told the par­lia­men­tary health com­mit­tee.

“There is an eth­i­cal and moral duty to as­sist off­spring of ga­mete do­na­tion.

“Peo­ple from do­nated em­bryos are ‘snowflake ba­bies. It is sold in a neat pack­age - ‘my daddy’s name is donor’ - as if that is an ap­pro­pri­ate name. Our ge­netic fa­thers are re­duced to these num­bers.

“This is about the cir­cum­ven­tion of child­less­ness. There is a right to have a child out­side re­pro­duc­tion ca­pac­ity, there is no vet­ting of prospec­tive par­ents, there is a push for re-reg­u­la­tion. There is this no­tion of ex­is­ten­tial debt where you would not be here if it weren’t for it so you bet­ter be grate­ful.”

Highly re­spected gy­nae­col­o­gist Mark Sant re­futed Rose’s as­ser­tions as be­ing merely opin­ion by high­light­ing ex­ten­sive stud­ies by psy­chol­o­gists and psy­chi­a­trists on the psy­cho­log­i­cal adap­ta­tion of ga­mete do­na­tion off­spring based on well-es­tab­lished cri­te­ria.

Rose had de­scribed an ex­pe­ri­ence where a friend who is the prod­uct of ga­mete do­na­tion was di­ag­nosed with Ir­ri­ta­ble Bowel Syn­drome when it tran­spired that she had stage four hered­i­tary bowel can­cer and ul­ti­mately died from it.

A study was also re­ferred to where it was found that when two peo­ple are ge­net­i­cally re­lated but un­aware of this there is a pos­si­bil­ity of sex­ual at­trac­tion to oc­cur. The no­tion of everybody hav­ing the right to have a child is ex­tended to in­clude hav­ing their own child or some­one else’s child.

Foltzen­lo­gel pre­sented many Euro­pean Court of Hu­man Rights cases to sup­port his view not to rec­om­mend ga­mete do­na­tion. He says that in order to solve the con­flict aris­ing in other coun­tries whereby anonymity is guar­an­teed for ga­mete do­na­tion to avoid con­flict with par­ents how­ever peo­ple are legally awarded the right to know their ge­netic his­tory is not to per­mit the prac­tice.

Wieg­man-van Mep­pe­len Schep­pink ques­tioned if the “deep­rooted” de­sire for peo­ple to have chil­dren and whether this should su­per­sede all other rights.

She said that no eth­i­cally vi­able pro­cesses have been im­ple­mented to ap­pro­pri­ately at­tract ga­mete do­na­tors and sur­ro­gates.

“The in­tended par­ents pay for all costs, cre­at­ing in­tense pres­sure for agen­cies to find client.”

Sur­ro­gacy is heavy pro­moted by the stag­nat­ing in­fer­til­ity in­dus­try.

“The name of your law is the em­bryo pro­tec­tion act, if ga­mete and sur­ro­gacy do­na­tion are in­tro­duced, this will not pro­tect the em­bryo due to sev­eral eth­i­cal im­pli­ca­tions. Your cur­rent laws pro­tect the rights of the un­born child.”

Sil­van Agius, from a hu­man rights gov­ern­ment direc­torate, de­cried the or­gan­i­sa­tions be­hind the speak­ers’ pre­sen­ta­tions for push­ing ho­mo­pho­bic, anti-IVF agen­das. He said that a de­bate on whether to al­low anony­mous do­na­tion or not is wel­come, how­ever, slam­ming the ser­vice in its en­tirety goes against many hu­man rights prin­ci­ples.

Gaby Calleja from the Malta Gay Rights Move­ment said that with­out such ser­vices gen­der dis­crim­i­na­tion is tak­ing place within the con­text of same-sex par­ent­ing. When asked, Calleja said that she per­son­ally agrees with anony­mous do­na­tion for same-sex cou­ples, but that med­i­cal his­tory should be made avail­able.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malta

© PressReader. All rights reserved.