A new IVF law was signed into law by Acting President Frank Bezzina on Wednesday morning, concluding a three-week saga prompted by President George Vella's reported reluctance to endorse the changes. 

Bezzina signed the bill into law right after President Vella left the country for Birmingham. A notice announcing the publication of the reformed law was published in the Government Gazette on Wednesday.

Health minister Chris Fearne wrote on Twitter that "the office of the President" has signed the law, and pledged to publish the legal notice this week.

Parliament approved the bill three weeks ago, with both parties endorsing the changes to IVF procedures. 

Bills passed through parliament must be signed into law by the president - a procedure that usually takes a few days and is, at least in theory, a formality. 

But days and then weeks passed with no sign of the IVF law being published, sparking speculation that President Vella - a conservative medical doctor who is staunchly anti-abortion - was uncomfortable signing the law and was planning on leaving it to his stand-in, Bezzina.

That is exactly what happened.

The new law, which allows doctors to perform genetic testing on IVF embryos and indefinitely freeze those carrying rare and severe diseases, was approved by parliament on July 6 with 66 votes in favour and three against.

Several sources have since confirmed that the president is against genetic testing and is uncomfortable signing the law but Vella himself repeatedly refused to clarify his position and his office has completely shunned questions.

Instead, he said that the bill "will be signed" but did not commit to signing it into law himself. 

The new law could not be implemented before it was signed by the president or his stand-in. 

The constitution (article 72) obliges the president to sign laws “without delay” once they are passed on to him from parliament, and Constitutional experts have described the delay in this case as an "obscenity". 

ADPD chairman Carmel Cacopardo went as far as calling for MPs to start proceedings to have the president impeached, arguing that by failing to sign the law he had abdicated his responsibility as head of state. 

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