[EXPLAINER] How the IVF law has changed

After Parliament approved bold changes to the law regulating in-vitro fertilisation, MaltaToday maps out the changes

How the new IVF laws have changed
How the new IVF laws have changed

The government's proposed changes to the Embryo Protection Act were voted into law on Tuesday 19 June. The changes have ushered in important developments to the law that will allow all women, irrespective of sexual orientation and status to have access to IVF.

Below is an explainer of what has changed in the law.

Surrogacy axed from final Bill

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.

None of this was included in the final amendments to the Embryo Protection Act, with the government pledging to propose surrogacy as a separate Bill.

As things stand, surrogacy of all types remains illegal and the doctor performing the IVF or embryo transfer can be punished by a fine ranging between €5,000 and €15,000 and a maximum three-year prison sentence. The surrogate mother’s punishment is decreased by one or two degrees.

KEY TERMS

Surrogacy

This is when a woman offers her womb to carry somebody else’s baby. It can be done against payment or on an altruistic basis, depending on the country’s legislation.

Sterility

There are cases where the man or the woman or both do not have gametes, or these are inadequate to conceive. IVF is useless for these couples unless they can benefit from gamete donation, embryo adoption or surrogacy.

Oocyte

This is the scientific name of the eggs produced by the woman. Eggs and oocytes are used interchangeably.

Embryo

An embryo forms when a female egg is fertilised by sperm. The resultant union provides the first human cells with a potential to develop into a baby.

PGD

Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis is used to screen embryos for any genetic defects before they are implanted. Embryos that are found to be defective are discarded. This is often used in cases where the prospective parents have a hereditary disease, which can be transferred to their children.

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