Health minister convinced IVF amendments will be signed into law

Tista’ taqra bil-
Malti.

Deputy prime minister Chris Fearne is convinced that the amendments to the IVF law will be given the president’s assent and thus entering into force after being published in the Government Gazette.

Fielding questions from journalists on Thursday, Fearne said that the law received almost unanimous support from the House of Representatives, and observed that it had gone through all the stages in parliament, and was currently on the president’s desk waiting to be signed.

On Wednesday, Newsbook.com.mt revealed that the government had published an announcement saying the amendments had been published and signed into law. However, this announcement was removed, and the Government Gazette was amended without any explanation in the hope that it went unnoticed.

Announcement that IVF Bill was signed vanishes from Government Gazette

The changes to the document properties documented by this newsroom show that the PDF in question had been amended at least three times. Usually, amendments to the Government Gazette are made in the subsequent edition and any corrections are clearly pointed out.

The IVF bill appears to be taking an unusually long time to sign, having been approved no less than two weeks ago on 6 July.

President George Vella has to date not replied to questions sent in by this newsroom despite repeated attempts.

In contrast, the femicide bill – now Act No. X of 2022 – was signed into law 8 days after its unanimous approval by Parliament on 20 June. In fact, only one of the 10 bills signed into law this year required a 2-week wait, with most signed within a week.

Each act includes the assent of the President – or the acting president, presently academic Frank Bezzina – and Vella has repeatedly dodged questions on whether Bezzina would be giving his assent to a bill that has been the target of fierce criticism by anti-abortion campaigners due to the introduction of pre-implantation genetic testing of fertilised ova to screen for 9 serious genetic conditions.

The femicide bill has become the first law signed by Bezzina: it remains to be seen whether the IVF bill will be his second.

Vella had repeatedly stated that he would rather resign than sign any bill concerning abortion, even as he emphasised that he had no power to stop the executive from legislating on the matter. Assuming the acting president had no such compunction, of course, he may not have to, should that eventuality present itself.

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