The emphasis on protecting human embryos makes Malta's IVF law particular because it will not allow the freezing of embryos, but adopt the science of oocyte vitrification.
The head of medical services at St James Hospital, Pawlu Sultana has hit out at the draft IVF law published this week claiming the law will force the private hospital, which already offers IVF, to shut down.
In a comment posted on Facebook, Sultana said "Sur Ministru, you are telling us literally to shut down." He goes on to the describe the bill and the government as "spineless."
Justice minister Chris Said and health minister Joe Cassar launched the draft bill this week. The law will regulate the industry of in vitro fertilisation, marking a policy shift towards the science of egg freezing and a ban on embryo freezing, except in exceptional medical cases.
In regulating a service that has so far been practised freely for the past 22 years by private hospitals, the new law will for the first time offer IVF to both married and unmarried couples on the national health system, as well as set-up an authority that will regulate medical protocols and best practice on IVF.
In his comment, Sultana added "In an ideal world this would be perfect but in reality it is saying to the couples, you have one chance in hell to get pregnant. Don't play around people's health and lives. You can do this in your lovely hospital but we wont give false hopes to couples."
In comments to MaltaToday, the owner of St James Hospital, Josie Muscat said he is starting to think about closing shop.
Muscat, a former Nationalist MP, has led Malta's most active infertility clinic for the past 22 years. He explained that he cannot imagine keeping his embryologists employed now that the government is planning to outlaw the fertilisation of more than two eggs.
"They are trying to please everybody. Except patients," he said of the government's intention to effectively ban the current practice of fertilising more than two eggs and implant more than two embryos.
The inevitable emphasis on protecting human embryos makes Malta's IVF law particular because it will not allow the freezing of embryos, but adopt the science of oocyte vitrification.
This means that women who are hyper-stimulated to produce an excess of eggs will have a maximum of two fertilised for implantation, while the rest of the eggs will be frozen.
Ethically, the government also skirted the issue of freezing excess embryos that can be normally created in IVF when these are not implanted. However, the new law provides exceptions under a blanket 'force majeure' proviso, to be decided by the new authority when embryo freezing can be allowed, and whether such embryos can be put for up for adoption - for example, in the case of the mother's death.