IVF genetic testing splits Opposition as MPs demand free vote

Tista’ taqra bil-

Former PN leader Adrian Delia is one of five Opposition MPs demanding a free vote on the IFV law amendments that allow genetic testing on embryos before implantation.

This comes after PN leader Bernard Grech said the Opposition will be voting in favour of the introduction of embryo testing since its amendments to the IVF bill currently before parliament had been accepted.

However, five of his MPs have declared their intention to vote against the bill, and against the party’s whip.

Legislators will be voting on the bill on Monday afternoon, and despite Grech’s reassurances that his parliamentary group was in agreement, Delia and Bartolo have made it clear that they will be voting against.

In comments to the press outside Parliament on Monday afternoon, Delia said that although a free vote was not demanded during a parliamentary group meeting, MPs should be given the liberty to vote according to their conscience.

Newsbook.com.mt is informed that five MPs requested a free vote but they were informed that the decision is final and the PN will vote in favour of the amendments.

The five MPs opposing the amendments are Delia, Alex Borg, Ivan Bartolo and Carm Mifsud Bonnici.

Informed sources told Newsbook.com.mt that newly elected MP Jerome Caruana Cilia is also opposed to the amendments but questions sent to him by this newsroom have not been answered yet.

Delia and Borg told Newsbook.com.mt that they asked Grech for a free vote but this ws not granted by the PN leader.

Speaking in an interview on the PN media on Sunday, Grech gave the impression that his parliamentary group would be presenting a united front after having a number of amendments included in the final bill. 

Grech said his party will support the introduction of preimplantation genetic testing (PGTM) for monogenic disorders since the bill also give prospective parents the option of polar body testing (PBT) on female oocytes.

Moreover, Grech said no MP in his parliamentary group had requested a free vote on the law.

But Delia said “a test on an unfertilised female egg would not put anyone’s life in danger. Genetic testing on embryos would.”

Shortly before Grech’s interview, Delia took to social media to lay down the gauntlet and declared “I do not agree with embryo testing that could endanger or be fatal to human life.”

PN MP Alex Borg also took to Facebook to make clear his pro-life views. “I believe that by all possible means those who wish to have children should have all the help and means to celebrate the gift of life,” he wrote on his Facebook page.

“This is unless we are in no way endangering life in any way, even in its infancy,” he added.

Likewise, Bartolo indicated that he will be voting against the Bill because “a law allowing genetic testing on the embryo can no longer be called the ‘Embryo Protection Act’.”

In a Facebook post on Monday morning, Bartolo said “before the general election I gave my word and confirmed that I would vote against any law and measure that endangers life.”

While reiterating his pro-life stance, Bartolo said “politicians are not “God” but have a responsibility to be accountable to their conscience, while remaining loyal to those who elected them as their representatives.”


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