The predominantly Catholic country of Malta is debating legislation that would liberalise its restrictive IVF laws and legalise altruistic surrogacy.
The Embryo Protection (Amendment) Bill, which seeks to amend the 2012 Embryo Protection Act, has been fiercely debated in parliament, with critics saying that it fails to protect human embryos. Nationalist MP Simon Busuttil, who addressed parliament during a second reading of the bill, said that the proposed legislation was unnecessary and potentially demeaning for women. Summarising his speech, he said:
“...I am against embryo freezing because, in oocyte vitrification, we already have a viable alternative that does not pose ethical pitfalls...I am against surrogacy which, all feminists agree, amounts to nothing short of exploitation of women. In fact, surrogacy is being banned in countries like Sweden regardless of whether it is commercial or altruistic”.
Proponents of the bill say that changes are necessary to increase the likelihood of success of IVF. Current restrictions on IVF procedures, such a prohibition on embryo freezing, have led to low success rates.
A vote by division has been set for 23 May, after which the Bill will go to the committee stage. Health Minister Chris Fearne emphasised the government was open to continuing the discussion and putting in place certain changes.
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