Updated | Cassola ‘living an illusion’, Cacopardo says after abortion row resignation

AD leader Carmel Cacopardo: “Arnold found it difficult to accept that we encourage a public discussion on this subject.”

Arnold Cassola has resigned from Alternattiva Demokratika
Arnold Cassola has resigned from Alternattiva Demokratika

Arnold Cassola has resigned from Alternattiva Demokratika following a disagreement over the views on abortion of MEP candidate Mina Tolu.

In a letter to AD chairperson Carmel Cacopardo, Cassola, a former two-time chairperson, MEP candidate and long-standing member of the Greens, said that it was clear that there was a clash of opinions between him and the party's executive committee “on the important issue of abortion.”

But Cacopardo said Cassola was wrong about saying there was a difference inside AD over abortion: “He is living an illusion... the real difference is actually that Arnold found it difficult to accept that we encourage a public discussion on this subject,” Cacopardo said in a statement. 

Cacopardo reiterated AD’s stand that it was against abortion. “Everyone is irked that, since last Friday, particularly after Mina Tolu broadcast her views, Arnold Cassola did all he could to encourage the perception that things were different to what she said. It is unfortunate that Cassola has taken this attitude: it is a reflection of the great fear and taboo on the subject. 

“We are fighting against this very taboo: it is only with more information and discussion that we can ensure that every person knows what is happening around them and decide for themselves. Indeed, irrespective of what we say, abortion is with us and the number of Maltese who procure it is as big as in any other European country.” 

Cassola had reacted to a Facebook video by Tolu, calling for a safe space to discuss abortion, reproductive rights and sexual health in Maltese society, by demanding that AD disassociates himself from the views of Tolu.

On Sunday, Cacopardo said that since Cassola had stated that he was only in favour of abortion in the case of serious danger to the mother, AD’s executive committee would discuss his stand on abortion since the party had always been against abortion.

Cassola refused to entertain the request, and announced his resignation at 5pm on Sunday. “As I have said, I am completely against abortion except in cases when the health and life of the mother are in danger,” Cassola said, announcing that he will run in the 2019 European elections as an independent candidate.

“With sadness, I am submitting my resignation from Alternattiva Demokratika. After a good 30 years, my adventure with AD - a party which will always remain in my heart - ends here. From now on, I will be continuing my political journey alone.”

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In his reply to Cassola earlier today, Cacopardo said that although he appreciated Cassola’s views, it would have been much better had he had the patience to wait for the issues mentioned in his (Cassola’s) email to be discussed within the party, instead of publishing it.

Cacopardo also noted that in Cassola’s email, he had effectively proposed that abortion be viewed as acceptable in cases where the health or life of the mother is as risk.

“I noted that in your email you made a comment, effectively a proposal, regarding the circumstances when, for you, abortion is acceptable. In your email you said: ‘I am completely against abortion except in cases when the health or life of the mother is in danger’,” Cacopardo had highlighted, adding that the party was planning to in the coming days discuss Cassola's reaction to Tolu's comments in its executive committee.

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