Labour’s women branch supports embryo freezing, sperm donation

Nisa Laburisti submits 10 recommendations for review of Embryo Protection Act • Archbishop warns against 'turning a woman's womb into a commodity' 

Labour’s women branch Nisa Laburisti has submitted 10 recommendations to the ‎inter-ministerial IVF review working committee, which includes experts from the health, justice, and civil liberties ministries.

NL president Claudette Abela Baldacchino said the recommendations were submitted following government’s announcement to evaluate current IVF legislation in the context of new equality laws as well as recent judgments of the European Court Of Human Rights.

Tweeting in reaction to the NL's recommendations, Archbishop Charles Scicluna warned against turning a woman's womb into a "commodity".

"We respect a woman's womb as quasi sacred. Let us not turn it into a commodity, whether for free or for money," the archbishop said.    

Under Malta’s Embryo Protection Act, in vitro fertilization services are offered by the national health service only to married couples and heterosexual unmarried couples in a stable union. The law forbids the freezing of embryos, sperm donation, or surrogacy.

In their ten proposals, NL has also proposed that a change in the name of the law also takes place since the law itself deals with fertility treatment.

The group said it also wants to see:

  • Introduction of embryo freezing, as well as transferring frozen embryos from previous cycles without the need for the woman to go through a treatment cycle again. After the cycles, viable embryos should be decided upon by the couple that owns them;
  • No legal restrictions on age.  The NHS may bring in age restrictions as it deems fit for the services offered by the state, but that does not require a legal barrier;
  • Ova and sperm donation available for all, without obligation to donate; anonymity for sperm donors
  • Consideration to the possibility of exchange of ova and sperm donation with foreign banks if necessary;
  • In the case of a known donor, a law to regulate how donor is included in parenting or otherwise;
  • Explore the possibility of surrogacy but NL talks about limits on commercial surrogacy.

“Statistics produced lately by government shows that in the last 30 months (January 2013-June 2015), 411 IVF and ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection) cycles were carried out in Malta, 81 of which in the new IVF clinic at Mater Dei Hospital.

“In total, 116 viable pregnancies have resulted from these cycles – an overall success rate of 28% which compares well to the latest figure published by the UK Human Fertilization & Embryo Authority (HFEA) – 25% in 2011,” Nisa Laburisti said.

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