(1) Updated with comments from Peppi Azzopardi
An IVF expert and gynaecologist appearing on TVM’s Xarabank found himself facing some tough opposition as he tried to explain the details related to the science behind embryo freezing to a crowd that included anti-IVF doctors and concerned parents.
“We are giving the impression that an embryo is like a small baby in a test tube, banging on the walls because he’s feeling cold in the freezer,” said Dr Mark Sant to cries from some parts of the crowd.
A doctor in the crowd cried “uwejja come on” to Dr Sant’s statement.
“As far as I know no-one ever said that Mark,” said another doctor.
A recently released anti-IVF song about a freezing embryo calling for help
Calling on the debate to revolve around facts, and not opinions, the Dr Sant continued to debate what he considered the scientific view of IVF with anti-IVF doctors in the crowd.
“When you take eight cells and say that they are equal to a human, it’s just not true,” he said.
“Why are you calling them cells, that’s an embryo!” replied one doctor.
“This is not a scientific fact, this is your opinion!” said another.
The debate eventually got to a head.
“I absolutely didn’t want this to end up there, but let’s be factual. Your opinion that human life begins at conception is based on only one belief, and it’s not a scientific one. You cannot decide criteria based on one faith,” he said.
“The country cannot base its laws on a person’s belief – it must be based on scientific beliefs.”
“The impression that the people in the audience were contradicting the opinion of an expert is incorrect,” said Peppi Azzopardi, the host of Xarabank, to Lovin Malta.
“The two audience members featured in the video are in fact both scientists, one being a gynaecologist the other a biologist. The heated exchange only shows how passionately a number of people feel about this topic. Xarabank has and will always give an equally prominent voice to experts and people sharing their first hand experiences.”
This debate occurred the same week 23 Maltese scientists and academics released a position paper confirming their belief that life begins at the moment of fertilisation.
“All of us humans presently alive, started life as this early embryo. Scientifically the development from zygote to embryo, to foetus, baby, child and adult is a continuum and it is the same human from the time of fertilisation till the day s/he dies,” they said.
In the midst of the heated debate on IVF, the President of Malta has called for calm and offered to mediate discussion between the two camps.