Government proposes changes to IVF amendments, removing surrogacy and total anonymity

Health Minister Chris Fearne this morning announced that the government would be changing certain IVF amendments, including removing altruistic surrogacy from the Bill, and lifing part of the anonymity on gamete donation 

Altruistic surrogacy will be removed from the IVF amendments and will be discusses on its own as a separate Bill, Health Minister Chris Fearne said.

During this morning’s parliamentary session that discussed the budget vote for the Embryo Protection Authority, Fearne proposed new changes to the government's IVF amendments.

Fearne said that altruistic surrogacy will be removed from the set of IVF amendments to the Embryo Protection Act and will present a separate Bill on the matter at a later stage.

The introduction of altruistic surrogacy could mean that women unable to carry a child in their womb, will still be able to have a child. This will be discusses as a separate matter. The proposed changes were going to introduce surrogacy as part of the Embryo Protection Act, giving the minister wide powers to introduce subsidiary legislation to define how it will be implemented.

READ ALSO: An idiot’s guide to how Maltese IVF law will change

Fearne said that the government will lift part of the anonymity with regards to gamete donation. The original proposal would have seen the whole gamete donation process be completely anonymous.

The minister said that after widespread consultation, he is now proposing a change, whereby a child born from gamete donation will have the ability to know who the donor was when he turns 18.

The details of the donor would be kept in a registry, Fearne said.

Fearne added that the new changes were being introduced to give more opportunities for embryos to be born. He said that couples who choose to freeze an embryo would be given the opportunity to use it later on, with the age of mothers allowed to go through the IVF process rising from 43 to 48.

In extreme circumstances where embryos would be adopted, Fearne said that the prospective parents would have to be assessed to determine that they are suitable parents, just like in other adoption cases.

Fearne said that 590 couples went through the IVF process since it was introduce in Malta in 2015, and 127 children were born through the process.

Fearne said that the government will give these couples more opportunities to have children.

READ MOREUnderstanding government’s remit on IVF and surrogacy | Maria Brown

The Opposition said that it would have to read through the new amendments, but noted that the government's decision to change certain amendments was positive. 

The Opposition said that the government's decision to change aspects of the proposed law, showed that the first set of amendments were rushed.

The government received flak from pro-life groups and a group of academics, opposed to embryo freezing, surrogacy and gamete donation when it proposed the original amendments to the IVF law. However, it received support from advocates for women with fertility problems.

The amendements to the Embryo Protection Act are currently at committee stage in Parliament after having been passed at Second Reading stage with all Opposition MPs voting against.

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