New wording of a bill allowing the termination of pregnancies in certain circumstances will stipulate that more than one medical professional must sign off on the procedure, Prime Minister Robert Abela indicated on Monday.

This would avoid the risk of individual doctors abusing the law by interpreting it too widely, Abela told reporters.

Abela's Health Minister, Chris Fearne, had told reporters some weeks back that revised wording would seek to eliminate such a risk. 

Currently, the wording of the proposed law currently says that "No offence...shall be committed when the termination of a pregnancy results from a medical intervention aimed at protecting the health of a pregnant woman suffering from a medical complication which may put her life at risk or her health in grave jeopardy."

Abela said the government was at the 'final stages' of redrafting the wording of the amendment, which will be debated in the committee stage of the parliamentary process in the coming weeks.  

Video: Chris Sant Fournier.

He said the government had held talks with people who had 'genuine concerns', and while there was no intention to remove the notion of 'health' from the bill, the new version would include a clause that specified that viable foetuses should be delivered and another clause that prevents abuse.

"There could be instances where one doctor stretches the interpretation of the law or abuses the original clause that we tabled," he said.

"So, we are creating additional safeguarding mechanisms to avoid circumstances where one doctor alone takes a decision that stretches the interpretation of the law."

Pushed to say when the government intends to publish the new wording, Abela said this process was not a race against time, and the changes would be published in due time.

Health Minister Chris Fearne had first hinted at fresh amendments earlier this month, saying the bill would clarify that a viable foetus “must be born” and the government would propose amendments to the bill to highlight this point. 

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