[WATCH] Surrogacy must be discussed internally, Chris Fearne says

After surrogacy was withdrawn from last year's amendments to the IVF law, Health Minister Chris Fearne says it will first have to be discussed internally before it can be brought again before parliament

Health Minister Chris Fearne at the launch of heart monitoring equipment for newborns
Health Minister Chris Fearne at the launch of heart monitoring equipment for newborns
Surrogacy must first be discussed internally, Chris Fearne says

Surrogacy will have to be discussed internally before the government will put forward a Bill to regulate the controversial procedure, according to Chris Fearne.

The Health Minister had last year piloted changes to the law regulating in-vitro fertilisation that included a reference to surrogacy. However, surrogacy was withdrawn from the Bill, with Fearne promising to present separate legislation in due course.

On Monday, Labour MP Rosianne Cutajar called for a mature discussion on surrogacy and pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) as part of continued efforts to enhance treatment for infertility.

When asked what were government's plans, Fearne side stepped the issue of PGD but insisted that surrogacy would have to be discussed internally before a Bill could be brought to Parliament.

"We’ve already put in place legislation dealing with IVF that gives the opportunity for people, from all walks of life to have children. On surrogacy we will first discuss the matter within the Labour Party and then the parliamentary group before presenting a law to parliament," he said.

Fearne added that new IVF law had allowed gay couples, and single women to be able to have a baby.

Fearne was speaking at the launch of new monitoring equipment at Mater Dei Hospital that helps detect congenital heart disease in newborns.

More screening for newborns

Fearne said that Mater Dei Hospital was already equipped with equipment to spot several diseases that may not be visible to the eye, such as hyperthyroidism. “At the moment, we are also working on a project to allow for screening of celiac diseases in newborns.”

He said that it was important for diseases such as congenital heart disease, to be diagnosed while the newborns were still in the hospital, for the repercussions of them going home undiagnosed were too high. Fearne added that Mater Dei Hospital sees at least 35 cases of babies with heart condition per year.

The machine unveiled on Wednesday provides clinical screening that can detect a defect in the heart of a newborn. Currently, Mater Dei Hospital has three of these machines, which are used to document patients in intervals of 24 and 48 hours.

A member of the nursing staff, at the Neonatal ICU, explained that the procedure was non-invasive, however, highly significant. “For the best results, one has to intervene as soon as possible.” 

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