‘Gen­uine dis­cus­sions took place on IVF amend­ments,’ says Health Min­is­ter Chris Fearne

The Malta Independent on Sunday - - NEWS -

He­lena Grech Health Min­is­ter Chris Fearne stressed that years of gen­uine dis­cus­sions had taken place in or­der to reach a con­clu­sion on the IVF amend­ments pre­sented by the gov­ern­ment for dis­cus­sion in Par­lia­ment.

The amend­ments in­clude mak­ing IVF avail­able to ho­mo­sex­ual cou­ples and sin­gle peo­ple, there­fore pro­vid­ing for the launch of sperm and egg banks. In ad­di­tion, women mak­ing use of IVF will be able to have three eggs fer­tilised in­stead of two, as at present. Two eggs will ini­tially be im­planted in the womb and the third one will be frozen. Should nei­ther of the first two em­bryos re­sult in preg­nancy, the frozen em­bryo may then be used. If the first round of IVF is suc­cess­ful and the frozen em­bryo is there­fore not needed, and the woman un­der­go­ing the treat­ment de­cides she does not wish to be­come preg­nant again, that frozen em­bryo will be avail­able for anony­mous adop­tion.

For­mer For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter Ge­orge Vella and for­mer Par­lia­men­tary Sec­re­tary for lands Deb­o­rah Schem­bri, hail­ing from Joseph Mus­cat’s 2013 gov­ern­ment, both pub­li­cally ex­pressed their op­po­si­tion to the gov­ern­ment’s amend­ments.

In com­ments to The Malta In­de­pen­dent, Fearne re­sponded to ques­tions about whether dis­cus­sions within the Labour camp were par­tic­u­larly dif­fi­cult or com­plex due to the com­plex na­ture of the amend­ments un­der dis­cus­sions.

“Dis­cus­sions were gen­uine, it wasn’t a sit­u­a­tion where the Prime Min­is­ter or I came out with these pro­pos­als and ev­ery­body just agreed.

“They were dis­cus­sions which have taken years. I am not just talk­ing about within the Labour par­lia­men­tary group but even within the Par­lia­men­tary Health Com­mit­tee. Last year, within that com­mit­tee, we had con­tri­bu­tions from the Op­po­si­tion, NGOs, stake­hold­ers and all in­ter­ested par­ties.”

The Health Min­is­ter went on to say that in­ter­nal dis­cus­sions between Labour politi­cians took place at both Cab­i­net level and with the Labour par­lia­men­tary group, adding that sug­ges­tions were taken on­board through­out this process to strengthen the amend­ments.

The sec­ond read­ing of the IVF amend­ments has now con­cluded, af­ter lengthy dis­cus­sions in Par­lia­ment. The le­gal changes will now go through the com­mit­tee stage, where tech­ni­cal­i­ties such as the spe­cific word­ing of the text, will be con­sid­ered.

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