IVF law changes to be put forward after budget but minister gives little away

Health Minister Chris Fearne says amendments to the law regulating in-vitro fertilisation are in the final stages and will be presented to parliament after the budget

The health authorities are working with the State Advocate to propose amendments to the in-vitro fertilisation law but Chris Fearne remains reluctant in giving details.

Speaking during the launch of a specialised ward at Mater Dei Hospital, the Health Minister said the amendments would allow for more "straightforward gamete donation" as well as "other issues".

He said the government would be putting forward a Bill with amendments to parliament after the budget is over.

His reply is no different to what the Health Ministry told this newspaper last June when no indication was given as to what changes government was considering despite confirming that the State Advocate was being consulted.

READ ALSO: Health ministry coy on embryo genetic testing

In April, Fearne said he would be making amendments to Malta’s IVF law to introduce pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), a test used to screen embryos for any genetic defects before they are implanted. However, since then he has been coy about PGD, which is ethically contentious.

The PGD test was not introduced when the Labour administration overhauled the IVF law in 2018.

The government’s last changes to the Embryo Protection Act were voted into law in June 2018, ushering in important developments to the law to allow all women, irrespective of sexual orientation and status, to have access to IVF. The changes allowed gamete donation to take place and made embryo freezing an integral part of the treatment.

An original proposal to legalise altruistic surrogacy was removed from the Bill after public pressure. Surrogacy would have allowed women unable to carry a child in their womb, the possibility to become mothers. It also meant that the whole spectrum of the LGBTI community could use surrogacy as an option to become parents.