Chris Fearne says a draft law to introduce surrogacy is almost ready, however the minister side-steps a question on the introduction of pre-implantation genetic diagnosis in the IVF process
A Bill to introduce surrogacy is almost ready, however, internal discussions are still underway, Health Minister Chris Fearne said.
He was responding to questions during a press conference in which he gave details of the reimbursement scheme for the costs related to IVF medicines.
Fearne said the surrogacy Bill would be presented in parliament after internal discussions are concluded. He gave no timeline for the tabling of the new law in parliament.
In 2018, Fearne piloted changes to the law regulating in-vitro fertilisation that included a reference to surrogacy. However, surrogacy was withdrawn from the final changes after internal opposition, with the minister promising to present separate legislation in due course.
In 2019, he had said that internal discussions had to take place on altruistic surrogacy before the law could be brought back to parliament.
However, when asked whether the government had abandoned its plan to introduce pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), Fearne sidestepped the issue. It was the minister who last year suggested government will introduce PGD as part of the IVF process but it appears the contentious issue has been put on the back burner and no progress registered.
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IVF reimbursement scheme
Fearne explained that most of the costs associated with the IVF process are already offered by the government and have been offered for free since 2014.
The minister said that approximately one cycle of IVF at a private clinic would cost some €15,000.
Fearne said that pending the procurement process, the cost of IVF medicine will be reimbursed in the form of a grant to all those couples who started an IVF cycle from 1 January this year. The medicines are expected to arrive in mid-June.
The announcement was first made by Prime Minister Robert Abela last Sunday during a political activity in Tarxien.
Fearne said that since 2014, there have been 252 babies born through the IVF process and that currently, 24 women are expecting babies through IVF.
He also said that the ‘take-home baby rate’ for 2021 was 21.5%, comparable with other European countries.