Pro-life lobby turns tables on PN after Salvu Mallia’s comments on abortion

Outspoken star candidate’s pro-choice credentials opens up PN to crusade from Gift Of Life about conservative party’s traditional stand against abortion

Salvu Mallia: I never said I was in favour of abortion, but that I was pro-choice
Salvu Mallia: I never said I was in favour of abortion, but that I was pro-choice

The Nationalist Party – once a prime mover of political attacks on purported supporter of abortion – is being criticised by pro-life lobby Gift Of Lift for making no attempt at reassuring the public that it upholds pro-life values after candidate Salvu Mallia told The Sunday Times of Malta that euthanasia and abortion should be personal choices.

On Sunday, Mallia – a former TVM broadcaster who lots his popular history programme in a revamp of the TV schedule – said the thing he hated about the PN was that it was conservative.

“I am for euthanasia. I am for divorce. I am for gay marriage. I am for everything. Why? Because I do not think they are things that should be regulated by a government… If I am suffering and want to die because I have had enough, why should some asshole in Parliament decide whether I can do it or not?... I am against abortion but I think it is something personal and should be decided by the person, not by a government.”

Mallia is contesting the next elections on the PN ticket as an avowed critic of the Muscat administration which he voted for back in 2013.

The Gift Of Life lobby group was quick on Sunday to react to the “disturbing” comments, even though Mallia said he was pro-choice and not personally in favour of abortion.

“Since this was reported, the party leadership has so far made no attempt to reassure the people of Malta that it continues to solidly uphold pro-life values without exceptions. It therefore remains unclear to people whether the party has radically changed its position and that it now agrees with the intentional killing of the unborn, the old or infirm.

“We remind all political parties that it not acceptable and if anything, it is completely inconsistent, for one to claim to be personally against the killing of others and at the same time, to be in favour of others having the choice to do the very thing they claim to be against,” the group said. 

In the past, the GoL was successful in convincing former foreign minister Tonio Borg to support a constitutional amendment to include abortion – a crime in Malta – in the Maltese Constitution. The amendment failed to garner bipartisan support before it was even tabled.  

Labour foreign minister George Vella chipped in on Twitter on Sunday, reacting to Mallia’s interview with a pro-life stand, saying that he respected anybody’s views on practically any subject, but not everybody was qualified to speak on abortion and euthanasia with authority.

MPs and candidates react

Other PN candidates like Jean-Claude Micallef, whose bid for a European candidature had been turned down in 2014, made a show on Facebook of his disapproval at Mallia’s comment: “The right to life should be protected by the State. The State is duty-bound to protect the most vulnerable.”

Philip Mifsud, the former Nationalist MP, was adamant that Simon Busuttil sack Mallia, in a message he penned on Facebook: "Dear Simon, this is not an issue of letting someone to freely express himself. This issue deals with the way HE expresses himself and the level of the blackmailing dose one finds in each of his expressions. He will not change. If he blackmails now, when he is ‘just’ an election candidate, he will definitively blackmail once he is an MP. And once an MP, he will have power! We lived this already! Cut him loose. He is not an asset (if he were, he would have been a dangerous asset). He is a liability."

Salvu Mallia fired back at Mifsud: “If I’m a liability you are an ignorant asshole. You deserve to be in league with Joseph Muscat, where everyone speaks the same language and votes for corruption because the leader says so. You are so used to the obsolete model of the party system, that you cannot envisage something so simple as an honest discussion which is the basis of democracy. That’s the strength I admire in Simon Busuttil, that he is not scared stiff by the new and the different. Good thing that you are no more a candidate with such narrow-minded approach to politics.”

Salvu Mallia reacted in a Facebook post Monday, saying he is not in favour of abortion, but in favour of education.

Referring to the interview, Opposition leader Simon Busuttil said he would not move to silence Mallia. “This is why the PN is good for people like Salvu because this party allows you to say things without fear of retribution. This is the PN’s strength not its weakness.”

He also addressed the criticism directed towards him that he was timid in his approach.

“I do not scream, or bang on the table. I don’t lie to or insult people but if you want a leader with integrity, a determination of steel and who is ready to always tell the truth, I am here to serve. This is the difference between me and Joseph Muscat.”

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