Dr Miriam Sciberras (The Sunday Times, June 10) stated: “In Malta at present we do not have embryo selection, embryo freezing or abortion included as part of our best medical practice protocols and we are proud of this.”
Such concern for the human embryo is at best naive but in any case very economical with the truth. With all due respect, supporting the medieval status quo of transferring all three or four embryos created altogether, as is currently local practice, may obviously result in any scenario ranging from four abortions to a quadruplet pregnancy – the latter associated with all the complications of prematurity, i.e. birth at around 30 weeks’ gestation.
I am purposely leaving aside the fact that for unknown reasons in nature and assisted technology, the fertilised egg may split into two or more embryos during the first stage of development to avoid further complicating or making this issue even more sensational.
As I wrote in The Times on April 21: “The issue remaining unresolved is whether egg vitrification can exclude the possibility of creating more than the exact amount of embryos targeted for implantation.”
It is not yet scientifically possible to have created the two embryos to be transferred. Transfering one has negligible results; transferring three is bad practice. Unfortunately at present only freezing of the supernumerary embryo inadvertently created can solve this issue. And this is where incentives for all embryos to be used by the same biological parents (80 per cent of IVF procedures fail in any case) or adoptive ones (under EU directives all stored embryos are guaranteed to have been created by gametes screened for hereditary and infectious diseases) come in.
Whoever thought the IVF Parliamentary Committee I chaired in 2010 had liberal views should note that in barring gamete donation and restricting eligibility for assisted reproduction to stable heterosexual couples, we did put a lid on gay couples’ desire to raise children, knowing full well that our sovereign nation, like the rest of the continent still had to determine whether these expectations were appropriate or otherwis