Simon Busuttil rules out internal debate on euthanasia

The Nationalist Party has said that no discussion on euthanasia and abortion will be held within its structures

PN leader Simon Busuttil issued a statement in which he ruled out any possibility of an internal debate on euthanasia and abortion
PN leader Simon Busuttil issued a statement in which he ruled out any possibility of an internal debate on euthanasia and abortion

Salvu Mallia’s unequivocal position on euthanasia once again exposed the divisions within the PN, which remains a party with a strong and vociferous conservative base and a silent liberal minority.

In a blunt interview published on The Sunday Times, the PN candidate said “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?”

This prompted PN leader Simon Busuttil to issue a statement in which he ruled out any possibility of an internal debate on euthanasia and abortion. 

Asked whether any internal debate had taken place or whether the party was planning to hold a discussion within its structures over the matter, the PN said that none will be taking place. 

Speaking to MaltaToday, a PN spokesperson said the party “has been opposed to euthanasia even before Simon Busuttil took over the party leadership,” adding that “this position remains unchanged.”

Pointing out that euthanasia was recently discussed within the Family Affairs Parliamentary Committee, the spokesperson said “hence, the issue has already been the subject of ongoing discussions both publicly and within the Party, at various levels and at various times.” 

Moreover, the PN said that Busuttil “is of the firm opinion that there is a fundamental right to life but no right to die” and underlining the statement issued in response to Mallia’s interview, the opposition said this is the direction in which Busuttil will steer the party under his leadership on this issue.

Following a statement issued by pro-life lobby Gift of Life, in which the arch-conservative group asked the PN leader whether the opposition still holds pro-life values, Busuttil said “under my leadership, the Nationalist Party will not be open to the legislation of abortion or euthanasia. Whilst having people in the party with different views is a strength that I welcome, the Party’s position on abortion and euthanasia will not change under my leadership.”

Busuttil’s stance, effectively killing any hope of an internal debate about euthanasia, disappointed liberal voters and pro-choice campaigners. 

Joe Magro, an ALS sufferer who is calling for the introduction of euthanasia, said he was bitterly disappointed by Busuttil’s hardline stance which ruled out any debate on the matter within the party. 

“I cannot understand why the PN has excluded the possibility of discussing the matter,” Magro said, reiterating that if euthanasia is not introduced it would be depriving people of the possibility of ending life in dignity. 

“I cannot understand why they are against introducing a law, which as I have previously stated should be stringent,” he said. 

While pointing out that a MaltaToday survey published in April 2016, showed that 53% of respondents agreed that the State should allow people suffering from a terminal illness the right to end their life, Magro reiterated that if euthanasia is not legalised he would take the matter into his own hands.

“As I have said on numerous occasions, I will live as long as I can but once it gets to a point where I cannot live life in dignity I will commit suicide,” Magro said.  

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat – who has publicly said that he is against euthanasia – recently admitted that while Magro’s pleas had left him “speechless” he currently saw no solution to the impasse. 

The PN’s stand mirrors that taken by the Green Party, which surprisingly ruled out discussing the issue. 

In February 2016, Alternattiva Demokratika chairman Arnold Cassola told MaltaToday that while the Green Party has no position on the issue, it has no intention to discuss the matter.