This could be the next big debate about Malta’s IVF laws
Health Minister Chris Fearne refused to state outright whether he is in favour of expanding Malta’s IVF procedures so as to allow embryos to be screened for genetic disorders and disabilities prior to implantation.
Questioned by Lovin Malta about his opinion on preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), Fearne merely noted that the IVF law underwent a revamp last year.
“Over 60 couples now have access to another IVF cycle, couples with frozen embryos overseas are now applying to bring them to Malta and take a chance to have another baby and couples with different sexual orientations can now access IVF too,” he said, before walking away.
Despite last year’s upgrade to the IVF law, leading Maltese gynaecologist Mark Sant has urged the government to go a step further and legalise PGD and PGS (preimplantation genetic screening), noting that several Maltese people are already travelling overseas to access these procedures.
He noted that these procedures will help doctors determine which embryos produced through IVF have an abnormal number of chromosomes and which are therefore destined to fail if they are implanted.
It will also allow doctors to diagnose embryos for genetic conditions such as Huntington’s disease, thalassemia major, gangliosidosis and Down Syndrome before implanting them inside the mother.
The practice is available in a number of countries, such as the UK, Canada Germany and Mexico.
Labour MP Rosianne Cutajar recently called for a mature discussion on PGD, as well as surrogacy, as part of the government’s efforts to enhance treatment for people with infertility.
“The recent update to the IVF law made a lot of couples happy but the reality is that there are still families out there who have problems conceiving and becoming parents,” she said. “There are couples who have to go overseas to be given treatments that Malta doesn’t offer. Exporting these people and their problems overseas isn’t a solution, was never a solution and will never be a solution.”