Government agrees to Labour’s amendment on Embryo Protection Authority's role

Embryo Protection Bill enters committee stage; MPs to meet on Friday morning to discuss amendments in the House of Representatives.

Labour's proposal for the Embryo Protection Authority not to act as a "big brother" over who is to receive in-vitro fertilisation treatment has been supported by government.

Initially, government had proposed that it should be the five-man committee who would give the go ahead to a couple who would want to make use of assisted reproductive techniques. However, the Opposition said this clause was "unacceptable" as it forced the couple "to go pleading before strangers asking them for permission to have children".

The opposition argued that the couple would have already tackled this issue with their medical specialist.

Addressing the House this evening, Justice Minister Chris Said said that government had agreed to drop this requirement because this 'certificate' would have to be issued by the specialist. On Monday, Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi himself had said that he didn't see any reason as to why the two sides shouldn't reach an agreement over the role of the authority.

The minister added that government had agreed that a couple should undergo counselling before, during and after receiving the treatment. The service should be given by an independent councillor.

The proposed Embryo Protection Bill bans embryo freezing by instead proposing the freezing of ova, and the fertilisation of not more than two eggs with human sperm at each 'fertilisation cycle'.

Labour's is supporting the ban on freezing embryos except in exceptional cases or where the parents die before implantation. It however said the law should not limit the number of eggs that get fertilized, and that this should be decided by best medical practice according to the consultant overseeing the infertile couple's IVF treatment.

However, the government this evening reiterated that the law will still keep in the clause regulating the number of eggs that get fertilized. Said added that a clause will be included to increase the number to three in one cycle.

On the other hand, Labour MP Adrian Vassallo reiterated that he was against assisted reproductive techniques. He voted against the second reading of the IVF bill as leader Joseph Muscat said that he didn't Vassallo's No vote as going against the whip's orders.

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I said it beofre and I say it again. Gonzi is now logenr in command. He had to bow again this time for the opposition. Malta needs a stable government and not one who has to do what some of his MP's demand and what the oppostion demands.