The Malta Independent 31 January 2023, Tuesday
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Good will prevail

Ivan Grixti Wednesday, 7 December 2022, 11:00 Last update: about 3 months ago

Last Sunday afternoon a significant number of Maltese people marched peacefully through the streets of Valletta to voice their concerns in respect of the proposed amendments to Malta’s legal framework in the context of de-criminalising abortion in certain specific cases. The march, organised by a significant number of NGOs, included amongst other prominent figures, HG Mons. Scicluna and Her Excellency President Emeritus Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca. Undoubtedly, this was not a politically motivated protest march but one that proclaimed what the Maltese people consider to be close to their heart – cherishing every life from its conception right through its natural end.

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It is quite ironic that such a matter is being discussed within our houses of parliament during the weeks of advent, a time of waiting for the birth of a little infant, a defenceless baby, predestined to proclaim the good news to all those of good will.  Such a parliamentary discussion is being dealt with in a somewhat emphatic manner; moreover, with a deadline to enact it just before the Christmas recess.

Having supported the Labour Party since my childhood days, I could not stand silent and refrain from contributing to the debate with my thoughts about this copious delicate matter. Remaining silent is not an option, especially when I had in another section of the press in the English language claimed that the Hon. Robert Abela, was the right choice in the leadership contest soon after then PM Joseph Muscat resigned from office in early 2020.

Without entering into the merits of the Prudente case, I do appreciate that there is something lacking in our legal framework but cannot fathom why the urgency after this particular case. Where were our legislators when Maltese couples became caught up in such difficult situations with our competent professional medical practitioners entangled in critical decision-making? Is this, possibly, an attempt to deal with the issue in good time before the next wave of EP elections? If that is the case, why not build up an adequate, more informed campaign and invite Maltese citizens to vote on it then? Or possibly let the Maltese themselves decide in a referendum as a previous Nationalist government did with respect to the introduction of divorce in Malta.

I am suggesting the latter because what is being proposed now, government has no electoral mandate to implement! Just because government has a clear majority to administer does not give it a carte blanche to legislate whatever it deems fit to do so.

I do appreciate and acknowledge that there might be pressure on the Maltese government from within the EU echelons to introduce abortion in Malta on the premise that we are the only lacking jurisdiction within the EU to do so. Even though Roberta Metsola, in her capacity as EP president, has declared that she will pursue her office in line with the decisions taken by the EP, I have never taken that to mean that abortion has to be imposed within the local scenario. In any case, surely, all democratic principles point to allowing the final word to the Maltese electorate.

Currently, the cause of disagreement lies in the wording of the proposed clause with the pro-life movement arguing that the existing wording will give rise to the possible interpretation twist as to what constitutes a risk to a woman’s health? Ironically enough, whilst accepting that all this deduces into the unequivocal professional judgement of medical practitioners, yet, the choice of words lies in the hands of our chosen parliamentarians.

Now that we are aware that both PM Robert Abela and HE President George Vella have met and discussed the matter, with the latter reminding one and all what his position is, I augur that in the remaining days to come until the final vote is taken, not only will good prevail but that goodwill prevails.

 

Dr Ivan Grixti is a senior lecturer in Financial Accounting at the University of Malta

 

 

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