Published on September 14th, 2012 | by Desiree' Attard0
Report on Embryo Protection Act approved by KPS; PULSE and SDM React
A report presented by the Equal Opportunities sub-committee was yesterday approved by the Social Policy Commission (KPS), with 20 votes in favour and 6 abstentions. The report in question was drafted from a snapshot survey, ‘launched to gauge the opinions of University Students on specific points of the Embryo Protection Act.’ The said Act had been put forward for public dialogue a few months ago and has since been the topic of many heated debates.
The survey received 395 responses, which is around 3% of the current University student population. The three questions chosen asked the students their opinion with regards to the availability of medically assisted procreation.
When asked about the required stability of unmarried couples wishing to undergo IVF, determined by the Embryo Protection Authority, the student body seemed equally balanced between those in favour and those against (184 and 172 votes respectively), whilst a significant proportion (10%) were unsure of their standing. Upon the more controversial question of allowing same-sex couples, single persons and infertile couples to be eligible for medically assisted procreation, 53% of the students taking the survey reasserted that IVF should only be available for couples of the opposite sex. 28% believe medically assisted procreation should also be available for both same sex couples and single persons. Further to that amount, 9% believe it should be available for same sex couples while 5% believe it should be available for single persons. Yet another 6% of the students surveyed had no decided opinion with regards to the matter.
On the other hand, when inquired whether sperm or oocyte donation should be available for infertile opposite sex couples, the vast majority of students (69%) believed that sperm/oocyte donation should be indeed made available for infertile opposite sex couples. A minority of 26% opposed the idea, whilst only 5% remained uncertain.
As declared within the report itself, ‘a limitation of this survey was that it did not allow for a stand against IVF to be stated, as was pointed out by some students that viewed the survey. Therefore, it cannot be excluded that a proportion of University students are in fact against the principle of IVF.’ Indeed, this feeling was further expounded by PULSE’s Social Policy Commissioner Ishmael Psaila, who affirmed his disappointment in the fact that ‘the survey only focused on the IVF law where it concerns single parents and homosexual couples. There was no reference to two crucial matters, hence two missing questions on whether students are in favour or not, and if yes, what they prefer between embryo freezing and egg freezing.’ Mr. Psaila went on to add that ‘even if the survey was meant to provide a solid base of discussion, in my opinion it was a half-baked exercise, which falls short of policy-making or evaluation.’
PULSE’s Commissioner argued that whilst students’ opinions should be one of the main considerations during the discussion between organizations, the vote presented before KPS on Thursday concerned a mere research exercise, and not a reaction to a policy. Mr. Psaila claimed that there had been no discussion on the matter within the Equal Opportunities sub committee, and neither during yesterday’s meeting between the organisations. ‘We only met an hour and a half before the KPS meeting and we were not consulted which aspects will feature in the survey,’ Psaila commented.
Mr. Psaila lamented the fact that ‘organisations only view the reaction [of KPS KSU representatives] minutes before the meeting,’ despite PULSE’s advice to send such reactions a considerable time before the actual meeting. He concIuded with the hope ‘that the same approach won’t be used while we discuss other crucial subjects such as gay marriage and other fundamental civil rights’.
On the other hand, SDM’s Secretary General Edward Mario Camilleri, expressed SDM’s satisfaction with the outcome of the survey carried out. ‘The poll presented during the KPS meeting reflects the opinion of the majority of UoM students’, Mr. Camilleri asserted in his statement to Insiter Online, on behalf of the organization. He continued by claiming that ‘ the fact that the absolute majority of those who participated in the poll believe that IVF should only be available for opposite sex couples proves that university students, though accepting change, still favour the
Whilst SDM is still currently analyzing the Embryo Protection Act which has been presented in Parliament, it believes that ‘an information campaign must be made in order to inform the general public of the general and specific issues pertaining to IVF.’