Peppi Azzopardi criticises government's stance on abortion, highlights double standards

‘You didn’t care about imprisoning women when the prison was run by a dictator’: Azzopardi compares government’s position on abortion to that on prison and immigration, says it doesn't care about vulnerable women when they're fleeing Libya

Peppi Azzopardi at the Nationalist Party's public meeting
Peppi Azzopardi at the Nationalist Party's public meeting

Former TV presenter Peppi Azzopardi slammed government for double standards in its position on abortion when compared to its track record on prison leadership and immigration policy.

Addressing a Nationalist Party meeting on abortion, Azzopardi ridiculed government’s ‘sudden concern’ on women being sent to prison for undergoing an abortion.

He said government wasn’t concerned about this when the prison was being led by an authoritative dictator – a reference to Col. Alex Dalli, who stepped down as prisons chief after a spate of suicides in prison cells.

He mentioned Kim Borg Virtu, who was imprisoned but advised by a magistrate to undergo a drug rehabilitation programme. Azzopardi said that the prison director denied her this treatment, and she ended up killing herself in her prison cell.

Azzopardi continued that government does not care about vulnerable women fleeing from Libya and crossing the Mediterranean to come to Europe.

“Why aren’t you worried about the people fleeing Libya to seek help. They’re women too, no?”

'Yes, in favour of life'

The Nationalist Party held a public meeting at the Excelsior Hotel titled 'Yes, in favour of life' to discuss a legal amendment that would allow for abortions when a woman's life and health is in grave danger.

The event was attended by a sizeable crowd of pro-life Nationalist Party supporters who filled up the Ballroom at the hotel. Among those in the crowd were former Nationalist prime minister Lawrence Gonzi and Life Network Foundation chairperson Miriam Sciberras.

When Peppi Azzopardi addressed the crowd, he opened with a story about a couple named Chris and Steve. They have in a relationship for 20 years and chose to adopt a child with Down Syndrome named Ben.

Azzopardi said that Chris was tearful in a recent conversation with him. He said that they have to continue working to adjust this bill, because "the first children who will be killed are children like Ben, with Downs Syndrome."

Azzopardi ridiculed government’s sudden concern on women being sent to prison over abortions.

He found fault with people arguing that they should not intervene on what a woman does with their body. He compared this to saying that you have no right to intervene in cases of physical abuse. “I’ll intervene when there’s physical abuse, let alone when there’s murder.”

Several other speakers addressed the event, including Professor George Buttigieg, a researcher in obstetrics, gynaecology and medico-legal studies.

He praised all MPs who voted against the bill, but invited those who voted in favor to "think well and reflect on the implications of the bill on this country, that has always defended the vulnerable, especially babies in the womb."

He also spoke about graphic details of babies being "thrown in the garbage" or being "torn to pieces" during and after abortions.

“Abortion isn’t healthcare, it’s convenience care,” he stated.

The next speaker was Daniella Zerafa, a social worker who lectures at the University of Malta.

"If the bill said clearly and left no doubt that the proposal only applies when the woman is at risk of losing her life […] I wouldn't be here, because I wouldn't have any reason to be here." She went on to say that a lot of women who undergo an abortion need help in other areas such as poverty, domestic abuse, drug dependency and housing.

Zerafa also mentioned that she is a foster carer and has been for over 11 years with her husband, and that parents who might not be stable enough to care for their children should still not deny them a chance to live, even if it means putting them up for foster care.

Miran Sapiano, a funeral director, was next to address the crowd. She said that she’s 35 years old and married with two kids, who she described as “the biggest gift she’s ever received.”

She continued that she sees a lot of emotion in her job, but she recalled one case where a client remained unaffected by what happened. She asked about the client’s relationship with the deceased, and the client responded that she was “the person who gave me life”.

The client explained that he had been adopted. While he feels that his adoptive parents are his ‘real parents’, his biological mother is still the person who brought him to life, despite having no emotional connection to her.

He said that without his mother, he wouldn’t have been there talking to Sapiano, or would not be the parent of two kids.

“If we feel like we have to celebrate the life of someone who just died, let alone we should celebrate the life of someone who has just been given life,” Sapiano concluded.

Opposition leader Bernard Grech rounded off the event, thanking the speakers for accepting the invitation and sharing their experiences, what they know and have learned.

He said he didn't like to use the word "battle" in his speeches, but added that “the battle for life has no color, political class”.

“This isn’t just a fight by the Nationalist Party, it’s a fight for all Maltese and Gozitans. We’re not here to politicise an issue. And we won’t let anyone stop us from defending life by trying to tell us that we’re politicising this issue.”

Opposition leader Bernard Grech
Opposition leader Bernard Grech

He said that the discussion on abortion should not be painted as a fight between mothers and babies, or men and women. “This is a fight for babies in the womb.”

“If there’s a person who taught me to love women,” he said, visibly emotional, “it was my mother, who unfortunately left us this week.”

“My mother always taught us that we must respect everyone. That no one is better than others. My mother always told us to look after our women,” he continued.

“This discussion on abortion should happen with respect to those women who face so many difficulties that, in that moment, they feel like their only choice is to kill their baby.”