Why this story matters:
The bill currently discussed in parliament would introduce embryo freezing and gamete donation, access to IVF for same-sex couples and single persons, as well as a public consultation on surrogacy. It was developed by the Health Ministry and is endorsed by the ruling Labour Party.
The opposition Nationalist Party has suffered deep splits in relation to the bill.
More liberal members suggest that the interests of families wishing to have children should come first, while the more conservative fear that IVF could destroy or harm embryos.
The leader of the party pledged to roll back the changes if the Nationalist Party comes to power.
Malta has the strictest abortion ban in the EU, with pregnancy terminations not allowed even in cases of rape or incest. At the same time, it is also reportedly the most LGBT-friendly country in Europe, with LGBT activism having built a successful case that the community ultimately wants families and children. The country does not necessarily fit the profile of a traditionalist, socially conservative state, but nevertheless, embryos remain a hypersensitive topic.
Details from the story:
- The current Embryo Protection Act of 2012 was introduced in Malta by the Nationalist Party when it was in power (pre-2013).
- The minister of Health says the bill is 'pro-life', but pro-life groups took to the streets to protest. In addition to archbishops and activists, Nationalist politicians could were protesting.
- The bill drew support from the Commissioner for Children, while 23 Maltese scientists and academics released a paper stating that life begins at conception.
- In a popular discussion show, an expert was heckled when he tried to explain embryo freezing.
- The president asked for a longer period of reflection on the controversial changes, but the government is determined to move ahead.