L-abort: nippruvaw niddiskutu bil-kalma

Id-dibattitu dwar l-abort hu wieħed emottiv. L-insulti u t-tgħajjir li għaddejjin huma bla limitu. Huwa f’din l-atmosfera li qed issir id-diskussjoni. Ċerti nies ma jitgħallmu qatt.

Id-dibattitu huwa ibbażat fuq l-istess punt fundamentali tad-dibattitu dwar id-divorzju: fil-pajjiż jirrenja l-pluraliżmu etiku. Jiġifieri jeżistu valuri kuntrastanti. Kuntrasti li ilhom jinbnew ftit ftit tul is-snin imma li ġew moħbija mil-lenti pubblika. Id-diskussjoni kienet waħda ipprojibita. Ma saritx minħabba l-biża’ minn soċjetà intolleranti, frott tal-fundamentaliżmu li għixna fih għal ħafna snin. Is-soċjetà tagħna illum żviluppat f’soċjetà lajka li immanifestat ruħha fir-referendum dwar id-divorzju u fl-aċċettazzjoni tad-drittijiet LGBTIQ.

Mhux kull abort hu xorta. Mhuwiex ġustifikat li taqbad l-“agħar każ ta’ abort” u tuża lilu bħala eżempju.

Il-kampanja kontra l-abort hi iffukata fuq abort bla limitu li ma jeżisti kważi mkien. Fuq l-iktar każ estrem, kontinwament jinbena argument li jappella għall-emozzjonijiet flok għar-raġuni. Argument li jbezza’ lil uħud imma li ma jikkonvinċix lill-kotra li kapaċi taħseb b’moħħa.

Il-kampanja favur id-dritt tal-għażla (pro-choice) min-naħa l-oħra tagħmlu l-argument li mara għandha dritt li tagħżel dak li trid, x’ħin trid u bla ma jindaħlilha ħadd. Dan jinkludi dritt li tagħżel jekk u meta tidħol għal abort. Argument neoliberali fejn il-libertà individwali m’għandhiex limiti.

Id-dibattitu hu kuntrast bejn dawn iż-żewġ estremi. Id-djalogu min-naħa l-oħra taf twasslek x’imkien ieħor li jkun aċċettat abort f’każijiet limitati fejn is-sens komun jgħidlek li dan hu ġustifikat. L-argumenti emottivi dan kollu jinjorawh u allura jimminaw d-diskussjoni matura li tant neħtieġu f’dan il-pajjiż. Il-pajjiż ma jeħtiegx l-abort bħala stil ta’ ħajja imma l-abort bħala rimedju f’ċirkustanzi straordinarji.

F’Malta l-abort isir. Jagħmluh n-nisa li jixtru pilloli online u jeħduhom mingħajr ma jikkonsultaw tabib, bil-kumplikazzjonijiet kollha possibli. Ma teżistix statistika dwar kemm minnhom jidħlu l-isptar bħala riżultat ta’ dan.

L-abort isir ukoll fl-isptar Mater Dei f’ċirkustanzi fejn tittieħed azzjoni biex tkun imħarsa l-ħajja ta’ nisa tqal li jiffaċċjaw kumplikazzjonijiet fit-tqala. Riċentment kellna l-polemika dwar t-tqala magħrufa bħala “ectopic”, jiġifieri meta l-bajda ffertilizzata teħel f’tubu intern fil-mara. Dan it-tubu (Fallopian tube) hu żgħir u jekk ma tittieħed l-ebda ażżjoni jinfaqa’ u jipperikola l-ħajja tal-mara tqila.

Il-kura li tingħata f’dawn iċ-ċirkustanzi hi mediċina li taqla’ l-bajda iffertilizzata minn mat-tubu u tarmiha. Jekk dan idum ma jseħħ jikber il-periklu u tkun meħtieġa operazzjoni. Fiż-żewġ każi dan hu abort li bħalu jsiru numru kull sena f’Mater Dei. Imma ħadd ma jgħid xejn, għax kulħadd jaċċetta li dan hu intervent meħtieġ, anke jekk il-liġi tqis din is-sitwazzjoni bħala illegali.

Hu ċar li l-opinjoni pubblika f’Malta, fil-parti l-kbira taċċetta l-abort meta dan hu meħtieġ biex iħares il-ħajja tal-mara. Meta tiddiskuti bosta jaslu biex jaċċettaw li l-abort f’dawn iċ-ċirkustanzi hu tollerabbli.

Hemm ċirkustanzi oħra fejn l-abort hu inqas kontroversjali. Qed nirreferi għal meta jsir abort f’kaz ta’ stupru jew f’każ ta’ inċest. Fejn it-tqala hi sfurzata, bi vjolenza, hu ġustifikat li jsir abort preferibilment fil-fażi l-iktar kmieni possibli tat-tqala. Mara li għaddiet minn vjolenza ma tistax issib il-liġi bojja lesta biex tikkastigha, għax inkella tispiċċa soġġetta għal vjolenza doppja.

Xi żmien ilu ktibt artiklu fejn kont ikkumentajt dwar il-fatt li hawn min fil-fażi inizjali tat-tqala jagħmel xi testijiet u jekk minnhom jirriżulta xi difetti fil-fetu, il-mara tirrikorri għal abort. Dan mhux aċċettabbli. Imma mhux biżżejjed li ngħidu hekk. Hemm ħtieġa li nifhmu lil min jagħmel din l-għażla u nistaqsu jekk parti mir-raġuni hijiex soċjetà li ma tindukrax biżżejjed familji li jgħaddu minn sitwazzjonijiet ta’ disabililtà. Minkejja li sar progress kbir xorta għad hawn nuqqas enormi kemm ta’ komprensjoni kif ukoll ta’ għajnuna iffukata lejn min għandu bżonnha.

Xi kultant naqraw b’min jirrikorri għal abort għax it-tqala u t-twelid jitqiesu xkiel għall-iżvilupp tal-karriera! Hemm soluzzjonijiet diversi għal dawn it-tip ta’ ċirkustanzi, minn edukazzjoni aħjar dwar is-saħħa riproduttiva għal sens ikbar ta’ responsabbilta’ mhux biss tal-mara imma wkoll tar-raġel.

L-aħħar eżempju huwa fejn issir għażla favur l-abort minħabba l-faqar. Jintqal li hawn każi fejn il-mezzi ta’ familja huma tant ristretti li ma jifilħux għal wild ieħor. Anke hawn hemm soluzzjonijiet li minħabba n-nuqqas ta’ dibattitu pubbliku ftit li xejn jiġu esplorati. Irridu nindirizzaw l-għerq tal-faqar u mhux il-konsegwenzi tiegħu. Inkella nibqgħu fejn konna. Anke hawn in-nuqqas ta’ edukazzjoni dwar is-saħħa riproduttiva hu enormi.

Mhux in-nisa biss jeħtieġilhom jitgħallmu iktar imma anke l-irġiel għandhom ħtieġa kbira għal dan: uħud jeħtieġu doża iktar qawwija ta’ rispett u sens ta’ responsabbiltà.

Id-dekriminalizzazzjoni, almenu f’ċerta aspetti, hi parti essenzjali mit-tibdil meħtieġ. L-ebda mara m’għandha tkun soġġetta għal passi kriminali għax ħadet il-pilloli li waslulha bil-posta inkella għax irrikorriet b’xi mod għall-abort wara vjolenza li taqqlitha. Il-mara li tagħmel abort hi ukoll vittma hi stess u teħtieġ l-għajnuna u mhux is-swat tal-liġi.

Fid-dawl ta’ dan kollu l-proposta ta’ Marlene Farrugia iktar kmieni din il-ġimgha ser isservi biex taċċellera d-dibattitu pubbliku. Imma jkolli ngħid li saret ftit bil-għaġġla u hija nieqsa minn preparazzjoni pubblika dwarha.

Neħtieġu dibattitu kalm għax hu b’hekk biss li nistgħu nifhmu iktar lil xulxin. Dan hu dibattitu li mhux ser jispiċċa fi ftit ġranet iżda ser idum. Jekk ma nagħmluħx bil-kalma ma nkunu wasalna mkien.

ippubblikat fuq Illum : il-Ħadd 16 ta’Mejju 2021

The abortion debate

The abortion debate is very emotional. Many insults are flying around. Some, unfortunately never learn.

The basic premise underlying the abortion debate is identical to that of the divorce debate: ethical pluralism reigns. Meaning that different values and attitudes co-exist. It is a clash of values that has been building up over a number of years, far away from the public eye.  Discussion has been continuously postponed due to the fear generated by an intolerant society founded on fundamentalism. A lay society has in the meantime developed and manifested itself clearly in the divorce referendum and subsequent acceptance of LGBTIQ rights.

It is incorrect to select “the worst” type of abortion and presenting it as the prototype

The “pro-life” campaign against abortion is focusing on “abortion on demand” which practically does not exist anywhere and presenting this as the prototype.  On this basis the campaign propagates an emotionally charged message instead of appealing to a reasoned approach. A message aimed at instilling extreme fear even though it is not the least convincing.

The pro-choice campaign on the other hand argues that a woman has the right to determine her choices without interference from anyone. This includes the right to determine if and when to have an abortion. This is a neo-liberal attitude which considers that there are no limits to individual liberty.

The debate is a contrast between these two extremes. Dialogue, on the other hand, leads you elsewhere, considering the exceptional circumstances in which an abortion may be justified. The emotional arguments ignore all this thereby undermining the mature discussion which this country has a right to. The country does not require abortion as a lifestyle: rather it is required as a remedy in extraordinary circumstances.

Abortion is practised in Malta. It is practised by women who purchase abortion pills online which they take without medical direction. All sorts of medical complications arise.  No statistics are available as to the number of those who require hospitalisation as a result.

Abortion is carried out at Mater Dei Hospital in circumstances to safeguard the life of women who face serious complications at some point in their pregnancy.  Recently the press highlighted the controversy on ectopic pregnancies, that is when a fertilised ovum is lodged in the female Fallopian tube. If left untreated this leads to a rupture of the said tube thereby placing the life of the pregnant woman in extreme danger.  

The medicine administered in such cases serves to dislodge the fertilised ovum which is subsequently discharged. If there is a delay in administering the medicine, or if this is ineffective, a physical intervention (surgery) would be essential.  In both circumstances this is an abortion which is carried out a number of times annually in the state hospital. However, no one ever complains as it is considered by all as a necessary and essential intervention, even if the law considers this as an illegal situation.

It is clear to all that public opinion in Malta generally accepts abortion when this is carried out to address the danger to the life of a pregnant woman.. At the end of the day in these circumstances abortion is tolerated.  

There are other circumstances when abortion is acceptable. I refer to cases of rape or incest. When a pregnancy is the result of violence, an abortion, preferably in the earliest possible stages of a pregnancy is acceptable.  A woman who has been subjected to violence should find comfort in the law otherwise she would be subject to violence for a second time.

Some time back I had written an article about tests being carried out in order to identify specific abnormalities in the foetus. In such cases depending on the results of the tests, abortions are being carried out.

This selectivity is definitely unacceptable. However, one must look beyond this and try to understand the underlying reasons for such choices. One would immediately understand that the prospective parent/s are making a forceful statement that notwithstanding existing help they feel that they are not able to shoulder the burden of the indicated disability. Notwithstanding the substantial progress registered over the years there are still substantial gaps. Parents feel this much more than anyone else. 

Occasionally we read about abortion resorted to in order not to endanger career development.  There are alternatives to such a course of action starting from education on reproductive health which ought to instil a greater sense of responsibility in both man and woman.

Poverty is another situation which may lead to opting for an abortion. It has been asserted that in circumstances of poverty a woman may opt for an abortion. Alternatives exist even in such circumstances: these have however been ignored.   It is poverty which has to be addressed and not its consequences.  Even in these circumstances the impact of a lack of education on reproductive health is glaring.  

Providing adequate reproductive health education would in the long run lead to less abortions.  This is required not just by women but also by men who generally require a greater sense of responsibility.

Decriminalisation is central to the change required. No woman should be subject to criminal action for making use of abortion pills which she receives through the post or for opting for an abortion after being violently impregnated. Women who opt for abortion are themselves victims who should find full protection of the law and not be criminalised.

In the light of the above the proposals put forward by Marlene Farrugia earlier this week will aid the development of the public debate.  Unfortunately matters were done somewhat in a hurry as the public was not prepared for these developments. But maybe shocking the public was part of the strategy!

We require a calm debate as this is the only manner in which we can clearly understand each other’s arguments. This is a debate that will not be over in a few days.  Being rational and calm is the least we can do.

Published in The Malta Independent on Sunday : 16 May 2021

Il-Kostituzzjoni tagħna: ir-riforma meħtieġa

Hawn min iqis li l-kostituzzjoni ta’ Malta hi tajba kif inhi u li għaldaqstant, jaħseb, li ma hemm l-ebda ħtieġa li nduruha dawra sew. Kien ikun sewwa kieku din kienet is-sitwazzjoni. Imma sfortunatament l-affarijiet huma ferm differenti minn hekk. Il-kostituzzjoni teħtieġ ferm iktar minn ftit irtokki ‘l hawn u ‘l-hemm.

lkoll nafu li l-kostituzzjoni ma titħaddimx biss minn persuni ta’ rieda tajba. Nistgħu ngħidu li xi minn daqqiet din ir-rieda tajba tkun ftit skarsa f’dawk li jmexxu u f’dawk li niddependu fuqhom għat-tħaddim tal-kostituzzjoni. Xi drabi dawn ifittxu t-toqob minn fejn jgħaddu u b’hekk jagħmlu ħilithom biex jevitaw milli jwettqu dmirhom.

Ilkoll nixtiequ li dan ma kienx hekk, imma l-esperjenzi tagħna lkoll, kontinwament, juru mod ieħor. Huma esperjenzi li l-ħin kollu juru li hemm ħtieġa illi l-kostituzzjoni tkun ħafna iktar ċara milli hi illum biex tilqa’ iktar għall-kontra l-abbużi u tonqos il-possibilità tal-misinterpretazzjoni tagħha.

Malta qed tinbidel u jeħtieġ li l-kostituzzjoni tagħna tirrifletti din il-bidla. Hu meħtieġ li l-Kostituzzjoni illum tirrifletti l-valuri ta’ Malta tas-seklu 21.

Tul is-snin, Alternattiva Demokratika tkellmet dwar diversi aspetti tal-kostituzzjoni li jeħtieġ li jkunu ikkunsidrati mill-ġdid, inkella li hemm bżonn li jiżdiedu ma’ dak li tipprovdi għalihom il-kostituzzjoni attwali. Dan jeħtieġ li jsir mhux biss fid-dawl tal-esperjenzi tal-pajjiż tul is-snin imma ukoll għax il-pajjiż għaddej minn metamorfosi kontinwa.

Ewlenija fost dawn l-esperjenzi hemm ir-rwol sekondarju li fih, tul is-snin, ġie mqiegħed il-Parlament fil-konfront tal-Kabinett. Ma’ dan trid iżżid ukoll id-drawwa tal-Parlament li kontinwament jgħaddi poteri sostanzjali lill-Kabinett kif ukoll lill-Ministri individwali mingħajr l-iċken sorveljanza inkella b’sorveljanza irriżorja. Hemm ukoll il-korpi regolatorji li l-persuni li jmexxuhom mhux biss jinħatru, ġeneralment, mingħajr referenza lill-Parlament, imma li wkoll, b’mod konsistenti, ftit li xejn isir skrutinju tagħhom, la qabel ma jinħatru u wisq inqas wara.

Din kienet is-sitwazzjoni sal-emendi riċenti għall-Att dwar l-Amministrazzjoni Pubblika liema emendi ħolqu l-Kumitat Permanenti dwar il-Ħatriet Pubbliċi biex ikunu skrutinati mill-Parlament xi ħatriet politiċi li jsiru minn żmien għal żmien. Minn dak li rajna s’issa, l-iskrutinju li qiegħed isir hu wieħed superfiċjali ħafna, lil hinn minn dak li hu mistenni.

Ir-rapport riċenti tal-Kummissjoni Venezja tal-Kunsill tal-Ewropa, li jiffoka fuq is-saltna tad-dritt, l-indipendenza tal-ġudikatura u tal-korpi bl-inkarigu li jinfurzaw il-liġi, jiftaħ id-diskussjoni beraħ dwar kif għandhom isiru dawn il-ħatriet u dwar jekk il-Gvern u/jew il-Parlament għandux fil-fatt ikollhom xi rwol f’dan il-proċess.

Fil-fehma ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika mhux aċċettabbli li l-Parlament jibqa’ jagħti blank cheque lill-Kabinett, lill-Ministri u lill-awtoritajiet regolatorji. Il-Parlament għandu jżomm il-kontroll effettiv f’idejh: huwa l-Parlament li għandu jmexxi u mhux il-Kabinett għax, kif iħobbu jfakkruna wħud ta’ kulltant, il-Parlament hu l-ogħla istituzzjoni tal-pajjiż.

Mill-Indipendenza l-pajjiż dejjem tmexxa mill-Kabinett li kontinwament ta’ struzzjonijiet lill-Parlament, li, għall-formalità, bi ftit eċċezzjonijiet, approva dawn l-istruzzjonijiet u mexa magħhom.

Dan ovvjament kien possibli minħabba l-polarizzazzjoni tal-pajjiż f’żewġ sferi politiċi li ttrasformaw dak li fuq il-karta hi demokrazija parlamentari f’sistema ta’ ċentraliżmu demokratiku, immexxija mill-Kabinett.

Spiċċajna biex flok il-Kabinett hu qaddej tal-Parlament l-affarijiet huma kważi kompletament bil-maqlub.

Din, fil-fehma ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika, hi waħda mir-raġunijiet ewlenin għaliex kontinwament hemm resistenza għal sistema elettorali aħjar li tagħti spażju lill-ilħna oħrajn, lil hinn mill-ilħna tradizzjonali.

Għax l-effett prattiku tad-dħul ta’ partiti politiċi addizzjonali fil-Parlament, eventwalment, ikun ifisser rifondazzjoni tad-demokrazija parlamentari bid-deċiżjonijiet jittieħdu fil-Parlament stess u l-Kabinett ikun relegat għal postu: jirrapporta lill-Parlament, jieħu l-istruzzjonijiet mingħandu u jwettaqhom!

Fi ftit kliem, dan ifisser il-ħtieġa li jkun hemm separazzjoni effettiva bejn l-eżekuttiv u l-leġislattiv, punt fundamentali meta qed nitħaddtu dwar il-kostituzzjoni ta’ demokrazija parlamentari. Din is-separazzjoni illum teżisti fuq il-karta biss.

Il-Kostituzzjoni teħtieġ li tirrifletti ukoll il-ħtieġa għal trasparenza u l-kontabilità. Dan hu meħtieġ mhux biss min-naħa tal-politiċi imma wkoll mingħand dawk kollha li jirċievu kwalunkwe delega ta’ xi forma ta’ awtorità eżekuttiva, anke l-iżjed waħda ċkejkna.

Ma’ dan kollu trid iżżid is-sistema elettorali, li teħtieġ tibdil sostanzjali. Dan hu meħtieġ prinċipalment minħabba li r-regoli kostituzzjonali dwar il-proporzjonalità huma limitati u diskriminatorji fl-applikazzjoni tagħhom.

Dawn japplikaw biss f’sitwazzjoni fejn fil-Parlament ikun hemm żewġ partiti politiċi u u allura, b’mod prattiku, japplikaw favur il-Partit Laburista u l-Partit Nazzjonalista, li fassluhom favur tagħhom.

Imma l-proċess elettorali jeħtieġ li jkun eżaminat mill-ġdid ukoll, għax illum, iktar minn qatt qabel, hawn il-ħtieġa ta’ intervent leġislattiv biex ikun indirizzat in-nuqqas tal-presenza adegwata tal-ġeneri differenti fil-fora politiċi Maltin, ewlieni fosthom fil-Parlament Malti.

Pajjiżna qed jinbidel kontinwament. Kultant din il-bidla isseħħ b’ritmu kajman. Drabi oħra din issir b’għaġġla kbira, kif qed iseħħ fil-mument. Huma bidliet li l-poplu Malti qed iħaddan kontinwament.

Bidliet li żdiedu fir-ritmu hekk kif Malta issieħbet fl-Unjoni Ewropea u bdiet dieħla fis-seklu wieħed u għoxrin, u b’mod iktar qawwi minn meta seħħ l-approvazzjoni tar-referendum dwar id-divorzju fl-2011.

Malta tal-lum hi differenti minn Malta tal-1964. F’numru ta’ aspetti hi wkoll Malta aħjar. Hi Malta li mxiet ‘il-quddiem u addattat ruħha ġeneralment b’suċċess għal dak li seħħ madwarha. F’dan il-proċess mifrux fuq kważi 60 sena, minn stat prattikament konfessjonali Malta żviluppat fi stat lajk b’koeżistenza ta’ valuri li jikkuntrastaw.

F’Malta illum isaltan pluraliżmu etiku. Hija din il-pluralità ta’ valuri ta’ Malta tal-lum li għandna nżommu quddiem għajnejna aħna u niddibattu dwar x’forma għandu jkollha kostituzzjoni emendata jew mibdula fil-ġimgħat u fix-xhur li ġejjin.

 

Ippubblikat fuq Illum : Il-Ħadd 10 ta’ Novembru 2019

Our Constitution: the reform ahead

Some may consider that Malta’s Constitution is fine in its present state but, unfortunately, much more than a couple of tweaks are required. We are all aware that constitutional mechanics are not only subject to the workings of people of good faith: some excel in seeking the most devious of ways to justify the avoidance of their Constitutional responsibilities.

Most of us wish that this was not the case but, unfortunately, it is the reality. Experience has taught us that a number of our Constitutional provisions need to be clearer to be able to withstand abuse and misinterpretation. Malta is in a continuous state of change, which must be reflected in our Constitution. The Constitution should be a reflection of today’s values: it should reflect a 21st century Malta.

Over the years, Maltese Greens have spoken up on various aspects of the existing Constitution which need revisiting or new elements that need to be introduced. This is essential – not only in order to apply the lessons learnt from our experiences but also to reflect the continuous metamorphosis through which the country is going.

Topping the list of considerations is the need to address the secondary role in which Parliament has been placed over the years with the Cabinet, effectively, taking over. In this context, it is very relevant to focus on Parliament’s handing over substantial responsibilities to the Cabinet or directly to individual Ministers without the minimum oversight. This also applies to regulatory bodies or institutions which are generally appointed and entrusted with substantial responsibilities without even a basic referral to Parliament.

This situation prevailed up until the recent amendments to the Public Administration Act, which created a Parliamentary Permanent Committee to examine political appointments in the public service. From what has been seen so far, the operations of this Committee leave much to be desired.

The recent report of the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe, which has a focus on the state of play of the rule of law in Malta, judicial independence – as well as the autonomy of those entrusted to enforce the law – encourages debating reconsideration of the manner in which these appointments are made and whether, and to what extent, the Government and/or Parliament have any role to play in the process.

It is not acceptable in this day and age that Parliament hands over a number of blank cheques to the Cabinet, Ministers and regulatory bodies. Parliament should retain ultimate oversight and control, currently a function usurped by the Cabinet. Since 1964, the Cabinet has always taken the lead – issuing ‘instructions’ to Parliament, which has generally rubber-stamped these instructions and followed them through.

This has been made possible by the prevalent intensive political polarisation that has transformed what – on paper – is a parliamentary democracy to one where democratic centralism, led by Cabinet, prevails. We have ended up with Parliament serving the Cabinet, when it should be the other way around. In my view, this is one of the basic reasons for the continuous resistance to the reform of the electoral system which would give adequate democratic space to political formations outside the traditional ones. The practical impact of the entry of new political parties into Parliament would be a re-foundation of parliamentary democracy, with Parliament standing on its own two feet and issuing instructions to Cabinet, not the other way around. This would signify an effective separation of executive and legislative powers: a fundamental issue in the Constitution of any parliamentary democracy and one which, so far in Malta, exists only on paper.

Our Constitution needs to reflect the basic need for transparency and accountability. This should be applicable not just to those elected to political office but also to those having a delegated authority on any matter, however small.

The electoral system requires substantial change. This is primarily due to the fact that the constitutional rules on proportionality are defective and discriminatory. They only apply in a Parliament composed of two political parties: in practice they thus apply only in favour of the Labour Party and the Nationalist Party who designed them to suit their needs. The electoral process also needs revisiting to address the gender imbalance in our parliamentary representation.

Malta is continuously changing. This change is proceeding at a varying rate that has been accelerating since we joined the European Union, but more so since the positive divorce referendum of 2011.

Malta in the 21st century is substantially different to the Malta of 1964. In many aspects it is also a better Malta that has generally successfully adapted to change. In this context, in a 60-year timeframe Malta has developed from a confessional state to a lay one with the co-existence of contrasting values.

In Malta today one can speak of ethical pluralism and it is this plurality of values of today’s Malta that should be the basic foundation stone of the constitutional reform process on which we will be embarking in the coming weeks and months.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday 10 November 2019

Constitutional reform: identifying the basic building blocks

Malta’s Constitution should be regarded as a living document: one that reflects our values and aspirations. These, naturally, change over time and it is consequently logical that they are reflected in an up-dated Constitution.

Unfortunately, we have only very rarely had the opportunity to consider updates to our Constitution, except in times of political turmoil. The current endeavours of HE President Marie-Louise Coleiro-Preca in leading a steering committee to pave the way for a Constitutional Convention is unique in our constitutional history: it is an experiment which should be allowed to mature.

In its present form, Malta’s Constitution is mostly the result of political backroom dealings and compromises over an almost 60-year time-frame – and the results are, at times awkward. Gaps have developed over the years, that are being exploited by those who seek power at all costs.

In order to improve our Constitution, we cannot start afresh. Our point of departure is the baton handed over by our predecessors, warts and all. It is not easy, as there are many vested interests to be overcome – primarily of those who seek to avoid the adoption of constitutional norms which ensure that authority is at all times exercised in a responsible manner.

The invitation by the President to Alternattiva Demokratika-The Green Party to air its views on constitutional reform at a meeting of the Steering Committee earlier this week was welcome.

AD’s views and proposals on the matter have been in the public domain for quite some time. We need to start at the basic building blocks of democracy. Malta’s electoral legislation needs to change in order to ensure that every vote cast by a Maltese citizen is valued.

Having lived through the political turmoil of the 1980s, I am aware of the difficulties faced in producing a workable solution. The electoral constitutional amendments of 1987 have since been tweaked a couple of times but, however, both the original amendments as well as the improvements made have only served the interests of the PN and the PL. Amendments were always drafted with the specific intention of excluding other political parties from an effective participation in the electoral process and this has to stop.

It is essential to ensure that proportionality between the votes cast and the parliamentary seats elected is not a right reserved for the exclusive perusal of the PN and the PL. This, I submit, is the cause of all the problems faced by our young republic. The deliberate exclusion of alternative voices in Parliament has ensured that Malta’s political engagement has developed into a politics of confrontation, squeezing out the politics of consensus.

This is not all. It is also time to tackle, head on, the issue of gender balance in our parliamentary elections. Humiliating quotas intended to correct results are in my view unacceptable: gender-balanced party lists are the only practical way forward.

In addition to addressing the applicability of proportionality to everything we also require an overhaul of the method of voting. Gender-balanced party lists are used in various European countries specifically to address the gender mismatch in parliamentary representation. Gender balance is not just for man and women: it should also include those who identify themselves with neither of these genders.

A revised Constitution should recognise the fact that, today, the country,  embraces ethical pluralism. Hence, instead of the Constitution being linked to one religious set of beliefs, the Roman Catholic, it should spell out its respect for all religions compatible with the democratic state.

During the meeting with the Constitution Reform Steering Committee, AD emphasised that, unlike in 1964, Malta is now a lay state and this fact should be reflected in the constitutional reform through an abrogation of article 2 of the Constitution. This would reflect the great strides forward made by the Maltese nation as a result of the referendum on divorce, as well as through the introduction and recognition of civil rights for the LGBTIQ community.

Alternattiva Demokratika also discussed the need for the President of the Republic to be elected by an electoral college that is much wider than Parliament. Local Councils should be involved in the election of the President.

Revision of the Constitution should widen the use of the referendum by extending it further to include the introduction of propositive referenda, as a result strengthening the democratic process.

In the coming weeks, Alternattiva Demokratika will be publishing a detailed document containing all of its proposals on Constitutional reform, which will include proposals to strengthen the country’s institutions. Protection of the environment in all its aspects will also feature in such proposals as it is essential that a government that ignores –  or does not give sufficient attention to – the guiding principles in Chapter 2 of the Maltese Constitution should be held accountable.

After five wasted years, the first steps in the process leading to the constitutional convention have at last been taken.

L-IVF mhux kapriċċ: (2) Pluraliżmu Etiku

Min jikkritika l-IVF fit-totalitá tagħha, inkella aspetti partikolari biss, naħseb li jagħmel dan bi skopijiet tajba. Ikun jixtieq jaqsam magħna lkoll il-valuri “tajba” tiegħu jew tagħha.

Ovvjament nafu li ilu li spiċċa ż-żmien li naħsbu b’moħħ wieħed. Kulħadd illum jipprova jogħmod dak li jisma’ u jasal għall-konklużjonijiet tiegħu. M’aħniex differenti minn pajjiżi oħra f’dan. Bħala pajjiż għaddejjin minn process li pajjiżi oħra ilhom żmien twil li għaddew minnu. Illum il-ġurnata m’għadniex iżolati u allura r-ritmu tat-tibdil għaddej b’mod aċċelerat għax aħna influwenzati minn dak kollu li naraw u nisimgħu.

Kif ġara waqt id-dibattitu nazzjonali dwar ir-referendum li wassal għad-divorzju, kulħadd illum qed jirrealizza li f’pajjiżna l-pluralitá tmur lil hinn miċ-ċikkulata u t-toothpaste. Anke lil hinn mix-xandir. Illum nitkellmu ukoll dwar pluraliżmu etiku. Għandna fil-pajjiż valuri differenti, diversi drabi konfliġġenti, li jeżistu fostna fl-istess ħin. Huwa dan li jġib l-argumenti u li jagħlef id-dibattitu pubbliku u per konsegwenza jnissel il-ħtieġa ta’ bidla li tagħmilha possibli li dawn il-valuri jikkoeżistu.

L-argument ewlieni etiku huwa dwar meta tibda l-ħajja. Jekk tibdiex mal-konċepiment jew f’xi żmien ieħor. Dan hu argument li diġa ffaċċajnieh waqt id-dibattitu pubbliku dwar il-Morning After Pill.

Il-ħajja fir-realtá ma hiex switch li tixegħlu jew titfiegħ f’xi mument partikolari. M’hemmx mument partikolari imma hu process ta’ numru ta’ siegħat fejn wara li sseħħ il-fertilizzazzjoni (l-konċepiment) iċ-ċelluli li jirriżultaw jibdew jimmutiplikaw, jiżviluppaw u eventwalment tibda l-ħajja. F’dan il-mument ikun għad ma hemm l-ebda bniedem: għalhekk hu ġustifikabbli li tintuża l-Morning After Pill li twaqqaf il-proċess kollu. Għall-istess raġunijiet huwa ġustifikabbli l-iffriżar tal-embrijun li jkun qed jifforma. Fid-daqs dan ikun daqs ta’ tikka!

Dan hu l-argument kollu li dwaru hemm opinjonijiet differenti.

L-argument ikompli dwar x’jiġri wara li toħroġ l-embrijun li qed jifforma mill-friża. Jekk il-proċess ikompli m’hemmx problema. Imma jekk jieqaf, hemm min iħoss il-kuxjenza tniggżu għax jaħseb li jkun temm ħajja.

Huwa għal din ir-raġuni li Alternattiva Demokratika qed tgħid li min għal raġunijiet ta’ kuxjenza ma jaqbilx mal-iffriżar għandu jkollu d-dritt li juża l-IVF mingħajr iffriżar. Dan ovvjament jista’ jillimita is-suċċess tat-trattament tal-IVF. Imma min ikollu din id-diffikulta etika għandu kull dritt li japplika l-brejk fuq il-konsulenti li qed jagħtuh it-trattament.

Min-naħa l-oħra min m’għandu l-ebda diffikulta dwar l-iffriżar għandu jkollu kull dritt li jibbenefika ruħu mit-trattament sħiħ.

Din hi materja serja ħafna u qed nagħmlu tajjeb li qed niddiskutuha f’mod intens. Huwa sinjal posittiv anke bħala pajjiż.

 

ikompli : (3) Mill-friża għall-adozzjoni

IVF: ir-riżervi ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika dwar il-proposti li saru

Alternattiva Demokratika il-bieraħ ippubblikat dokument bil-fehmiet tagħha dwar il-proposti tal-Gvern biex jestendi is-servizz tal-IVF.

Il-proposti li saru mill-Gvern jestendu l-faċiltá eżistenti tal-iffrizar minn waħda użabbli f’ċirkustanzi eċċezzjonali għal użu normali, ineħħu l-limitazzjoni konnessi mal-ġeneru għal aċċess għas-servizz, joħloq per konsegwenza d-dritt ta’ donazzjoni kemm tal-isperma mingħand raġel kif ukoll ta’ bajd mingħand mara kif ukoll jippermettu li jkun hemm min joffri ruħu bħala sostitut (surrogate) flok l-omm biex iġġorr it-tarbija waqt it-tqala.

Alternattiva Demokratika iddikjarat li taqbel mal-linji ġenerali tal-proposti imma għandha numru ta’ riżervi importanti dwar dak li qiegħed jiġi propost.

Fil-qosor id-dokument ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika jagħmel dawn l-osservazzjonijiet

  1. Għandna nirrispettaw il-pluralità ta’ valuri etiċi fil-pajjiż u għaldaqstant għandu jkun possibli li persuna li għal raġunijiet ta’ kuxjenza ma taċċettax l-iffriżar tal-embrijuni jkollha l-opinjoni tagħha rispettata u per konsegwenza jkun possibli li tagħmel użu mis-servizz tal-IVF b’din il-limitazzjoni, (opt-out etiku mill-iffrizar): dan id-dritt għandu jkun rikonoxxut minn stat lajk;
  2. Li f’kull ħin għandu jkun rispettat id-dritt tal-informazzjoni, kemm tal-persuna li ser tirċievi d-donazzjoni tal-isperma jew il-bajda kif ukoll ta’ kull wild li jirriżulta, id-dritt tal-informazzjoni jfisser li l-identità ta’ min ikun qed jagħmel id-donazzjoni għandha tkun magħrufa kemm lil min ikun ser jirċievi d-donazzjoni, kif ukoll lill-ulied ġġenerati meta dawn jagħlqu is-16-il sena: is-segretezza mhiex aċċettabbli;
  3. Li hu neċessarju li jsir screening tal-isperma u l-bajda għal mard trasmess ġenetikament;
  4. Nifhmu li s-surrogacy qed tkun proposta bil-kundizzjoni li dan ma jkunx kummerċjalizzat, però għadu mhux ċar kif dan ser isir għax ġaladarba jkun infetaħ il-bieb ser ikun diffiċli li jkun hemm kontrolli effettivi tal-kummerċjalizzazzjoni;
  5. Il-proposta tal-addozzjoni tal-embrijuni ma jidhirx li tista’ tkun implimentata u teħtieġ diskussjoni iktar profonda.

Fid-dawl ta’ dan għandha jkun emfasizzata l-ħtieġa li f’soċjetá li tħaddan il-pluraliżmu etiku nirrispettaw iktar l-opinjonijiet ta’ xulxin. Ovvjament, l-iktar mumenti fejn hu meħtieġ dan ir-rispett hu fejn il-fehmiet jikkuntrastaw: għax fejn dawn jaqblu ma hemm bżonn l-ebda sforz!

Huwa meħtieġ li ma jkunx hemm għaġġla żejda fid-diskussjoni pubblika. Il-Gvern qed jgħaġġel ħafna u mhux jagħti biżżejjed ċans lill-opinjoni pubblika biex tiddiġerixxi biżżejjed dak li qed ikun propost. Għad hemm diversi punti li jeħtieġu iktar ħsieb għax is-soluzzjonijiet proposti mhux ċari. Ikun għaqli għall-Parlament li jidħol f’iktar dettall dwar l-implikazzjonijiet tas- soluzzjonijiet proposti u dan billi fost oħrajn jitlob direttament hu l-assistenza ta’ esperti biex jgħinuh jindirizza xi difetti tal-proposti li qed jipproponi l-Gvern.

Alternattiva Demokratika tittama li l-Parlament jagħmel xogħolu sewwa. L-ebda mandat elettorali ma jagħti lill-Gvern is-setgħa li jagħmel li jrid. Tajjeb li niftakru li għalkemm diffiċli biex jitħaddmu jeżistu rimedji f’kaz li l-Parlament jonqos mill-jagħmel xogħolu sewwa.

Il-proposta dwar l-abort

 

Il-pubblikazzjoni mill-Fondazzjoni għad-Drittijiet tan-Nisa ta’ dokument li jipproponi strateġija nazzjonali dwar is-saħħa sesswali hu pass il-quddiem f’dan il-pajjiż. Fid-dokument, intitolat Women’s Sexual & Reproductive Health & Rights, il-fondazzjoni tagħmel 7 rakkomandazzjonijiet dwar il-kontraċezzjoni, l-ippjanar tal-familja, l-edukazzjoni sesswali u l-aċċess legali u sigur għall-abort.

Min-natura tagħhom dawn huma proposti kontroversjali li jeħtieġu diskussjoni matura li hi tant nieqsa f’dan il-pajjiż.

Meta f’Settembru li għadda, fl-ewwel indirizz tiegħi bħala Chairman ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika kkummentajt dwar dak li kien ġie diskuss fil-Parlament taż-Żgħażagħ ftit qabel u għidt li l-pajjiż jeħtieġlu diskussjoni serja u matura dwar l-abort kien hemm min staqsieni “għaliex dan”? Din id-diskussjoni ma hemmx bżonnha, kien hemm min qal.

It-tweġiba għal dan hi waħda sempliċi: għax aħna niffurmaw parti minn pajjiż demokratiku u l-politika tal-pajjiż, inkluż dik dwar is-saħħa sesswali u reproduttiva hi suġġetta għall-iskrutinju pubbliku. Ħadd m’għandu l-ebda dritt li jagħlaq ħalq ħadd billi jostakola diskussjoni. Għandna bżonn iktar diskussjoni pubblika u inqas tkeskis u tfesfis fil-widnejn.

Bla dubju din hi diskussjoni li ser tkun waħda emottiva u ser tirrifetti l-fatt li l-pajjiż għaddej minn trasformazzjoni radikali fejn il-pluraliżmu qiegħed bil-mod il-mod jinfirex fl-oqsma kollha tal-ħajja inkluż fl-etika u l-valuri li nħaddnu.

Din hi bidla li ħadet spinta bid-dħul ta’ Malta fl-Unjoni Ewropea. Għax fl-2004 ma bqajniex iktar gżira iżda sirna parti effettiva mill-kontinent Ewropew. Dan ġieb u għad irid iġib tibdil li jingħoġob imma ukoll tibdil li jdarras.

Mela ħalli d-diskussjoni tibda bis-serjetá.

L-abort: x’inhu jiġri madwarna

Diskors minn Carmel Cacopardo, Chairperson, Alternattiva Demokratika
fl-okkażjoni ta’ Jum il-Ħajja, organizzat mill-Malta Unborn Child Movement
Oratorju tal-Kon-Katidral ta’ San Ġwann il-Belt Valletta, Il-Ħadd 4 ta’ Frar 2018

 

Uħud minnkom, wara dak kollu li ilu jingħad, bla dubju qed jistaqsu dwar meta u min ser idaħħal l-abort f’Malta. It-tweġiba għal din il-mistoqsija hi waħda sempliċi ħafna: ħadd. Għax l-abort ilu fostna. Il-fatt li l-liġi Maltija ma tippermettieħx ma hu ta’ l-ebda xkiel għal min jidhirlu li għandu jagħmel għażla ta’ din ix-xorta.

Rapporti annwali mediċi fir-Renju Unit jindikaw li madwar 60 mara Maltija fis-sena jutiliżżaw is-servizzi mediċi tal-Ingilterra u Wales biex jipprokuraw abort. Ma dawn imma, trid iżżid l-aborti minn Maltin li kull sena jsiru fl-Italja (prinċipalment Catania, Ruma u Milan imma ukoll f’lokalitajiet oħra) kif ukoll dawk li jseħħu fil-Ġermanja, l-Olanda, l-Belġju u iktar. Statistika uffiċjali hemm biss għar-Renju Unit, imma tobba Maltin li tkellimt magħhom, bla dubju a bażi prattika tal-professjoni tagħhom fl-ibliet u l-irħula Maltin, jistmaw li ċ-ċifra totali tista’ titla sa bejn 300 u 400 abort fis-sena li nisa Maltin jagħżlu li jagħmlu.

Fl-istatistika jkejlu l-frekwenza tal-abort bħala n-numru ta’ aborti għal kull elf mara li hi of childbearing age, u ċjoe bejn l-eta ta’ 15 u 44 sena. A bażi ta’ dan, ir-rata fl-Unjoni Ewropeja hi ta’ 4.4, filwaqt li fost il-Maltin hi ta’ bejn 3.6 u 4.7, dipendenti fuq jekk fil-kalkolu tagħmilx użu minn numru stmat ta’ 300 abort inkella l-istima massima ta’ 400 abort fis-sena fost il-Maltin.

Jiġifieri fi ftit kliem, l-indikazzjonijiet huma li l-Maltin ifittxu l-abort kważi daqs kull ġens ieħor fl-Ewropa.

Jekk irridu niddiskutu l-abort bis-serjeta għandna l-obbligu li l-ewwel u qabel kollox nippruvaw nidentifikaw u nifhmu l-fatti biex id-dibattitu pubbliku jkun wieħed infurmat u mhux wieħed intenżjonat biss biex ikeskes lil “qaddisin” kontra l-“midinbin”.

F’Alternattiva Demokratika qatt ma appoġġajna l-abort minkejja dak li jgħidu uħud, inkluż uħud fostkom. Imma f’Alternattiva Demokratika ma nagħmlux kruċjati. Nippreferu li l-pajjiż jikkommetti ruħu b’iktar qawwa biex ikunu indirizzati dawk iċ-ċirkustanzi li jwasslu għal abort.

Ir-rispett għall-ħajja, meta jkun ġenwin, jintwera mhux biss waqt it-tqala. Jintwera dejjem, kemm qabel kif ukoll wara t-tqal, kif ukoll f’ċirkustanzi li m’għandhomx x’jaqsmu mat-tqala.

Nirrispettaw il-ħajja ukoll meta nkunu ċari kontra l-vjolenza domestika, meta nkunu kommessi li nħarsu lil dawk li jissograw l-għarqa, maħrubin mill-moħqrija u l-għaks f’pajjiżhom, meta niftħu għajnejna beraħ għal nisa traffikati għas-sess f’pajjiżna, kif ukoll meta nifhmu li d-dinjità ta’ kull bniedem tmur lil hinn mill-kulur, razza jew ġeneru. Imma għal uħud forsi dan hu wisq!

Is-soċjetà tagħna qed tinbidel b’rata mgħaġġla. Hi bidla li tispira ruħha minn pluraliżmu ta’ valuri, valuri li ħafna drabi jikkuntrastaw, xi kultant b’mod sostanzjali.

L-obbligu li nirrispettaw lil xulxin jeħtieġ li jimmanifesta ruħu f’dawn iċ-ċirkustanzi ukoll. Għax x’utilità hemm li ngħidu li għandna rispett lejn il-fehma ta’ ħaddieħor jekk imbagħad fil-konfront ta’ min ma jaqbilx magħna, it-tgħajjir u l-insulti kkuluriti xi kultant huma bla limitu?

Fl-Irlanda bħalissa l-Gvern immexxi mill-partit demokristjan tal-Fine Gael ser jagħti bidu għall-kampanja referendarja favur l-abort, għax fir-realta l-qbil ma’ jew l-opposizzjoni għall-abort tmur lil hinn mill-fehmiet politiċi.

F’Malta ukoll dawk favur l-abort qed jieħdu d-deċiżjonijiet tagħhom u qed isibu lil min jagħtihom s-servizz mixtieq. Sakemm jieqfu l-insulti mhux ser ikun possibli li dawn il-Maltin bħalna jingħataw l-għajnuna li jkollhom bżonn u li jħossu l-ħtieġa għaliha fl-iktar mumenti diffiċli f’ħajjithom, meta jridu jieħdu deċiżjoni iebsa u diffiċli, imma jħossuhom waħedhom, insulentati u mkasbrin minn soċjetà li tfittex il-purità artifiċjali.

Xi darba, forsi, nagħmlu progress. U l-progress ikun reġistrat meta kulħadd ikun konvint li hu stmat, irrispettivament mill-fehmiet tiegħu.

Sfortunatament, imma, jidher li għadna ftit il-bogħod.

Grazzi.