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‘Too early’ to say which proposed amendments to IVF law may be revised - ministry

Minister meeting experts as part of wide debate

Health Minister Chris Fearne has promised further consultation on the IVF issues highlighted by the Opposition, NGOs and experts. Photo: Shutterstock

Health Minister Chris Fearne has promised further consultation on the IVF issues highlighted by the Opposition, NGOs and experts. Photo: Shutterstock

It was still too early to say which of the proposed amendments to the Embryo Protection law may be revised, the Health Ministry said, despite the government insisting on passing changes by the summer recess.

Concluding the debate on the Bill’s second reading in Parliament last week, Health Minister Chris Fearne promised further consultation on issues highlighted by the Opposition, non-governmental organisations and experts.

Asked which of the changes the minister could be considering revisiting, a ministry spokeswoman told the Times of Malta it was still “early days” and insisted that Mr Fearne was still in the process of meeting with the experts as part of what she said was a “wide debate”.

Parliament is set to rise for the summer recess on July 4, and when the Times of Malta asked whether this was enough time for all the issues raised to be ironed out, the spokeswoman replied that “if need be, the summer recess will be delayed”.

She insisted, however, the government was adamant about passing the changes before the summer holidays.

“In the coming days, the Health Minister will be holding several meetings with various NGOs that voiced their opinion on the IVF amendments,” she noted.

A number of NGOs, as well as group of about 100 academics, have expressed concerns that the government might be rusing to introduce the changes without carrying out the necessary studies to look into the impact of some proposals.

Eleven organisations and experts last week called on Parliament to allow interested parties to participate in the debate on the controversial changes.

The move came just days after President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca proposed a longer period of reflection to have all voices heard. The President also offered to mediate in the debate.

Read: Most couples won’t give up spare embryos for adoption

Nationalist Party sources said the PN agreed that experts should be allowed to participate in the debate.

Asked about this, the ministry spokeswoman would not say whether the government agreed, noting again that the minister would be holding a series of meetings with various parties.

Unveiled by Mr Fearne last month, the proposed changes have been at the centre of a national debate.

Protesters have taken to the streets in Valletta in a rally against them.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has defended the amendments tirelessly, even dedicating whole speeches to the issue. He insisted he wanted to be the voice of the many infertile couples who he believed suffered in silence daily.

Opposition leader Adrian Delia said his party believed in life from conception to its natural end. The PN wanted to defend the unborn, he said, accusing the government of failing to do so.

 

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