The PN will be voting in favour of the introduction of embryo testing since its amendments to a bill currently before parliament had been formally taken on board, Opposition leader Bernard Grech said on Sunday, but his predecessor Adrian Delia seems to have other plans.
Speaking during an interview on Net FM on Sunday, Grech weighed in on the PN’s position on embryo testing as a bill amending the law on IVF awaits the last vote in parliament.
Grech said the PN’s parliamentary group had thought long and hard about this issue - giving it the attention it deserves.
Their point of departure had been that as a group they prioritise the protection of the embryo.
“As a group we agree that this point is paramount,” he said.
The bill amending the IVF law will allow genetic testing prior to implantation to enable doctors to look out for certain conditions such as Huntingtons' Disease.
Grech said the PN had put forward a proposal for what is known as polar body testing. This type of test happens on oocytes which have not been fertilised.
Since this amendment had been accepted by the government, the PN was in favour of the reform, he said.
“We spoke to families and couples facing difficulties starting a family of their own. As a party in favour of life, we couldn’t say no. We had to find a balance,” Grech said.
Adrian Delia: I will vote according to my conscience
Shortly before the interview, former PN leader Adrian Delia took to social media to say he was against embryo testing that put life in danger.
Tests on the unfertilised eggs of a woman (the oocytes) would not be endangering life, he said, Genetisc tests on the embryo would.
“To be clear, I declare that I do not agree with testing embryos that could endanger or be fatal to human life,” he wrote.
Asked by Times of Malta whether he plans to vote against the reform, Delia only said that he would vote according to his conscience.
PN parliamentary whip Robert Cutajar would not say whether the PN’s MPs will have a free vote on the matter.
“Please appreciate that in my position as whip I would not be meeting my responsibility if I were to talk about what is discussed in the parliamentary group,” he said.
Spiralling property prices
Meanwhile, during his interview, Grech also weighed in on housing prices and the cost of living which he said had spiralled to the point that thousands of young people were unable to get a foot on the property ladder.
He said that while the government should not interfere in the free market, it has an obligation to ensure everyone can afford a roof over their heads.
Grech said he had recently spoken to a young person who had managed to save up €30,000 and was still struggling to find a decent place to live.
Last month the Housing Authority warned that young people are being priced out of the property market, suggesting Gozo could offer a cheaper alternative.
A paper published by the authority concluded that “housing, be it rental or purchase, is unlikely to be a realistic prospect for young people in Malta were it not for government intervention or family assistance, unless they marry or cohabit, or relocate to Gozo”.
The paper was written by economists Marie Briguglio and Glen Spiteri, who said young Maltese people leave home considerably late in comparison to other EU countries, mostly due to a lack of affordability.
The Maltese are among the oldest in the EU to leave the parental home and they do it well into adulthood.
In 2020, the average Maltese person flew the nest at 30, the third oldest among member states and roughly four years above the EU average
While a young couple on average earnings in Malta can afford a broad range of rental options, the same is not true for other youths.
An identical couple on minimum earnings or a single young person with average earnings has “far more limited” options.
Grech said the PN had put forward suggestions to ensure youths could get their hands on a starter property worth up to €120,000.
While the electorate had voted for Labour to lead the country, they now expected the PL to come up with solutions.
The same, he said, was true of inflation and the cost of living.
“Don’t be fooled by the government’s lie that this is solely due to the war in Ukraine,” Grech said.
He said prices have been rising since before the war and the government was keen to find external factors to blame for rising prices.
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