Il-ħrafa tal-Isqof

Id-dibattitu dwar l-abort, kif mistenni hu wieħed qalil. Hu ħafna emottiv.

Imma minkejja dak kollu li qiegħed jingħad hemm sinjal żgħir ta’ qbil.

Il-parti l-kbira ta’ dawk li jgħidu li ma jaqblux mal-abort, jgħidu ukoll li jagħmlu eċċezzjoni waħda biss: meta l-ħajja tal-mara tqila tkun fil-periklu. Dawn ukoll, minkejja, dak li jgħidu,  qed jaċċettaw l-argument baziku tad-diskussjoni dwar l-abbozz ta’ liġi. Ċjoé li l-abort għandu jkun aċċettabbbli biss f’ċirkustanzi straordinarji. Dan hu tajjeb. Pass kbir il-quddiem. Jidher li b’hekk hemm qbil ma’ waħda mir-ragunijiet bażiċi għall-abbozz ta’ liġi: f’kaz li l-ħajja tal-mara tqila tkun fil-periklu. Irrispettivament minn dak kollu li qed jgħidu, dan hu abort ukoll. Imma hu aċċettabbli għax hu ġustifikabbli b’raġuni validissima.

Għad jonqos li jkun hemm qbil dwar meta jkun hemm periklu gravi għas-saħħa. 

Sfortunatament, id-dibattitu, kif jiġri ħafna drabi f’dawn iċ-ċirkustanzi, fih sfruttament tan-nuqqas ta’ informazzjoni u element qawwi ta’ misinformazzjoni. Fuq quddiem nett f’dan kollu hemm il-PN u l- Knisja li b’mod retoriku u f’sintonija qed jagħmlu użu mill-arma tal-biża’, bla ebda skruplu, flimkien ma doża qawwija ta’ miżinformazzjoni.

Hemm il-biża’ li l-proposta tal-lum tista’, fil-futur, tiżviluppa f’abort on demand. Din, iżda, mhiex il-proposta li hemm fuq il-mejda. Imma, minkejja dan, bi żlejaltà lejn l-opinjoni pubblika, l-PN u l-Knisja, f’sintonija, għaddejjin b’kampanja ta’ miżinformazzjoni dwar dan. Dak li jfissru l-ħrejjef dwar l-biċċerija! Ħrafa li ġiet imlissna minn wieħed mill-isqfijiet.

Il-proposta tal-Gvern għad tista’ tkun imtejba. Iridu jingħalqu t-toqob għall-abbuż. Dwar dan diġa ktibt u tkellimt. Ikun għaqli li l-ebda professjonist mediku ma jieħu deċiżjoni waħdu. Irid ikun ċar li dak li l-emenda mressqa trid twettaq hu li toffri soluzzjoni u empatija għall-każijiet ġenwini fejn il-ħajja tkun fil-periklu inkella fejn l-istat ta’ saħħa tal-mara tqila jkun tant gravi li dan jista’ jwassal għall-periklu għal ħajjitha.

Mhux kull kaz ta’ saħħa (inkluża s-saħħa mentali) jwassal għall-periklu għall-ħajja, iktar u iktar illum bl-avvanzi fil-mediċina. Imma fejn dan ikun il-kaz, anke jekk ikun kaz rari ħafna, għandu jkun possibli li t-tobba jagixxu bla biża’ imma dejjem b’responsabbiltà. Għalhekk l-abbozz ta’ liġi huwa meħtieġ. Għalhekk il-ħtieġa li naġixxu.

Il-fundamentaliżmu dejjem ixekkel id-diskussjoni matura. Jagħmel il-ħsara. Ħsara kbira. Fil-passat xekkel id-diskussjoni dwar id-divorzju, dwar id-drittijiet LGTBIQ u dwar l-IVF. Dejjem l-istess nies issib fuq quddiem, jostakolaw diskussjoni matura. Nieqfulhom kif sal-lum għamilna dejjem b’suċċess.

Supporting Bill 28

The amendment to the Criminal Code forming part of Bill 28 which Parliament started discussing on Monday 28 November codifies the existing practice at the state hospital. It defines the necessary legal framework for therapeutic abortion. It does not introduce the practice of therapeutic abortion: this has been the practice for quite some time.

The Bill avoids use of the term “abortion”, using instead the term “termination of a pregnancy”, which as we are all aware has exactly the same meaning!

Legislation to date relative to therapeutic abortion is not clear at this point in time. On this basis ADPD-The Green Party was the only political party which tackled the matter during the March 2022 electoral campaign, including a whole section on sexual health and reproductive rights in the electoral manifesto. We went much further than that, emphasising the need for the decriminalisation of abortion too.

The Labour Party in Government, which has been practically silent on the matter during the electoral campaign, has now decided to act, taking a minimalist approach. It has limited itself to ensuring that current practice is protected at law. While this is definitely not enough it is a welcome first step and deserves our full support, even though there is still room for improvement in the proposed text of the proposal.

The Labour Party is right in saying that it is not introducing abortion through Bill 28: therapeutic abortion has been here and practised for some time even in the state hospital. Consequently, the approval of Bill 28 as presented will, in practice, not change anything, it will merely recognise the current state of affairs. As a result, it will give peace of mind to medical practitioners in state hospitals as their current modus operandi would be clearly spelt out in the law, as it should be.

In a sense the current fierce and at times emotional debate on abortion is much ado about nothing. It has however resulted in the local conservative forces speaking from the same hymn book. The opposition to the Bill is primarily twofold. On one hand there is the PN official stand which, together with Archbishop Scicluna has adopted the position paper published by a group of academics. In practice they seek to limit permissible medical interventions to cases of a threat to the life of the pregnant woman, eliminating health issues as justification. On the other hand, exponents of the fundamentalist Christian right, including a minority in the PN rank and file oppose the Bill in principle.

Put simply, the debate identifies three different proposals. The first, proposed by the Labour government in Bill 28, enshrines in law the current practice and places the onus on the medical profession to decide each case on its own merits. The second, supported by the PN opposition and the Church hierarchy seeks to substantially limit the discretion of the medical profession in Bill 28 primarily by eliminating health and mental health considerations. The third position brought forward by the fundamentalist Christian faction is in total opposition to all that is being proposed.

During the Parliamentary debate held this week I took note of the various positive contributions, in particular those of Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne, Parliamentary Secretary Rebecca Buttigieg and Opposition spokespersons Joe Giglio and Mario Demarco. Of particular note, in my view, is Fearne’s reference to the hospital’s standard operating procedures. It is being emphasised that these procedures do in fact address important aspects of the criticism aired during the debate, in particular that decisions taken by the medical profession relative to therapeutic abortion procedures should be taken by two or more professionals in order to ensure that no professional shoulders the decision alone. This, I understand is already standard practice!

There is always room for improvement in the proposed text of the Bill as indicated in the level-headed approach of Joe Giglio during the Parliamentary debate on Wednesday. As I emphasised in my article last week it would have been much better if Government had embarked on an exercise of public consultation before presenting the Bill. There would definitely have been more time to listen to and digest the different views. A valid point which was also emphasised by Mario Demarco.

In this scenario, even though viewing it as just a first step, which can be improved: without any shadow of doubt, ADPD supports the proposal put forward by Bill 28 in principle.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday: 4 December 2022

It-taħwida l-kbira dwar l-abort

Id-diskussjoni li qed tiżviluppa dwar l-abort hi taħwida waħda kbira. Taħwida li sfortunatament qed jikkontribwixxu għaliha kemm il-Knisja kif ukoll il-Partit Nazzjonalista.

L-abbozz ta’ liġi li ressaq il-Gvern hu dwar kif u meta, b’mod eċċeżżjonali, jista’ jkun hemm intervent mediku biex tintemm tqala. It-tmiem ta’ tqala hu definittivament abort: imma l-proposta hi dwar il-każijiet eċċezzjonali meta dan jista’ jsir u mhux kif qed jiġi kontinwament implikat b’mod malizzjuz.

Fir-realtà, anke dawk li qed jippontifikaw kontra l-abort qed jaċċettaw li hemm ċirkustanzi fejn dan hu permissibli. Id-dibattitu rejali għalhekk hu dwar liema huma dawn iċ-ċirkustanzi eċċezzjonali li fihom abort hu ġustifikat.

Il-Gvern qed jargumenta li apparti meta l-ħajja tal-mara tqila tkun fil-periklu jista’ jkun meħtieġ intervent meta is-saħħa tal-mara tqila tkun fil-periklu: is-saħħa hi ikkunsidrata fit-totalità tagħha jiġifieri tinkludi ukoll is-saħħa mentali. Dan hu tajjeb.

Ir-raġuni għall-inklużjoni fil-proposta tal-Gvern tad-deterjorament tas-saħħa tal-mara tqila bħala raġuni għat-tmiem ta’ tqala hi li m’għandekx toqgħod tistenna sakemm is-saħħa tkun ideterjorat tant li dan iwassal biex tpoġġi anke l-ħajja tal-mara f’periklu.

Il-kontro-argument għal dan kollu hu li dan jista’ jwassal għal abbuż.  Hu argumentat li l-parametri mfassla mill-Gvern huma wisgħin wisq u jistgħu jagħtu lok għal abbuż. Irridu nirrikonoxxu li dan hu dejjem possibli li jsir anke jekk dan ma naħsibx li hu intenzjonat.

Dan kollu għandu jwassal biex niddiskutu bi ftit iktar serjetà dwar x’miżuri għandhom jittieħdu biex ikun evitat dan il-possibli abbuż.

Wieħed mill-argumenti fid-discussion paper dwar il-proposta tal-Gvern li ġiet ippubblikata minn grupp ta’ akkademiċi hu li d-deċiżjoni dwar jekk għandux isir intervent biex tintemm tqala m’għandiex tittieħed minn persuna waħda iżda minn numru ta’ speċjalisti mediċi flimkien. Din il-proposta tista’ tkun soluzzjoni biex biha jkun hemm kontroll adegwat li bih ikun assigurat li ma jkunx hemm abbuż. Proposta li fil-fatt nisslet kummenti favorevoli mid-Deputat Prim Ministru Chris Fearne huwa u jressaq il-liġi fil-Parlament nhar it-Tnejn li għaddew.

Hemm bżonn ftit iktar serjetà fid-diskussjoni. Sfortunatament din hi nieqsa bil-kbir. Il-proposta tal-Gvern hi tajba: jeħtieġ iżda li jkun assigurat li d-dettalji tagħha jassiguraw li tista’ titħaddem b’mod li ma jsirux abbużi.

Din hi id-diskussjoni reali li għandna bżonn! Sfortunatament hi nieqsa.