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