Government’s proposed controversial amendments to the Embryo Protection Act passed through Parliament this evening, with 34 votes in favour, and 27 against.
Three government ministers were abroad, as were three Opposition MPs.
The proposals, first announced earlier this year, will see the introduction of embryo freezing and adoption. The amendments had initially included altruistic surrogacy, however, Health Minister Chris Fearne recently announced that this will be presented at a later stage under a separate Bill. In addition, other changes were recently made. the anonymity previously proposed for gamete and ova donation was partially lifted when compared with earlier versions of the bill, meaning that children conceived as a result of medically assisted pregnancy will be allowed to find out who their biological parents are, once they reach 18.
The leader of the opposition Adrian Delia said, prior to the vote, that he was allowing his party to vote freely over amendments proposed by government to the Embryo Protection Act. Speaking at a press conference in Parliament, Delia stressed that the law would be dictating death before birth.
He said when there are issues of ethics and morality he will give a free vote, and invited the Prime Minister to do the same in this situation.
“This is a law which creates inequality before birth” Delia said. He added that such amendments will affect children’s rights and will no longer protect them even after birth. “A law which is destroying the concept of family and destroying the structure of society so much so that tomorrow we will not recognise it”.
“This is a government which insists on creating a soulless state” the leader of the opposition said adding that the government has failed to listen or explain why they it is proposing it.
“We will continue to fight against this law and be opposed to this law” Delia concluded.
Health Minister Chris Fearne, in a press conference of his own, said that the law as is has problems, and stressed that passing this law will give more women the chance to give birth.
Turning to gamete donation, Fearne said this will provide the opportunity for even more families to have children. He said that the law also removes discrimination against single parents by choice, and LGBTIQ persons. He also mentioned giving rights to the children, allowing them to know the name of the donor by the age of 18.