Letters to the editor – June 5, 2022

Helping families and changing lives

Just a few weeks ago, the country was at the polls voting for its future and the party it believed could lead it over the next five years. The result is well-known to all and Labour secured a strong mandate to continue bringing about change while also providing the strong and stable leadership Malta deserves.

Under the leadership of Prime Minister Robert Abela, we hit the ground running as the government’s first days in office were marked by hard work to ensure that we deliver on the promises we made to the people. True to our word, last week we presented a major reform to the IVF laws, which will give families new hope and change the lives of those prospective parents who are keen on holding their child in their arms for the first time.   

As we pledged in our electoral manifesto, the amendments to the current law were presented in the first 100 days of this legislature. Perhaps one might ask why it was so pertinent for the government to revamp the IVF law and place it as high priority on the political agenda?

Well, the answer is fairly simple. After having heard people recount their personal experience and difficulties in starting a family it was clear to us that something had to be done. When it comes to issues of infertility, every day that passes is a missed opportunity and, as legislators, it is our duty to deliver a more robust IVF service. In fact, over 419 babies were born between 2013 and 2021. That means more than 400 new lives which brought so much joy to their parents and grandparents. 

As a government, our guiding principles focus on increasing the quality of life of families who are going through the IVF process. By introducing these amendments, we are proposing to make the treatment more widely accessible by increasing the age limit to 45 for women to be able to undergo IVF treatment and the possibility for women to access free IVF to have a second child, irrespective if the first child was conceived through IVF or not. As we announced, a key development will allow pre-implantation genetic diagnosis for monogenic disorders (PGT-M) in cases that have a family history of serious genetic disorders such as Huntington’s or Tay-Sachs disease.

As policymakers, it is up to us to listen to the personal experience of others and seek to improve their quality of life by introducing comprehensive legislation. The IVF reform is based on the needs of those couples whose dream it is to become parents and give a child a loving home.

To those prospective parents, our message as a government is one of empathy and action. We have listened to your concerns and we have taken steps to address them.

We have a strong mandate to provide an ethical and legislative framework with clear rules for the welfare of the child, women and couples and no member of society should feel that they have the authority to impede this right from being given to those who are silently suffering due to infertility.

REBECCA BUTTIGIEG – Parliamentary Secretary for Reforms and Equality, Valletta

Unholy land

All praise to John Azzopardi for his courageous letter (May 26) setting out the true history of Islamic persecution of Christians in the Middle East.

It’s a story which still affects millions of Christians today, not only in the Middle East but throughout the (post-) Christian West as well, where people who simply wish to live out their lives in peace and freedom are subjected to violence and terrorism in the name of a perverted form of religion.

Nevertheless, it was surely a mistake for Christianity to buy into the concept of a ‘Holy Land’ which had to be fought over again and again. The conviction of the earliest Christian tradition is that ‘our homeland is in heaven’ (Philippians 3:20) and that ‘there is no eternal city for us in this life’ (Hebrews 13:14).

The ‘Holy Sepulchre’, over which so much blood has been shed, must be no more than an irrelevance to those who can accept the message that “He has risen, he is not here” (Mark 16:6, Matthew 28:6, Luke 24:6).

Regrettably, religion is still the main cause of conflict in what must surely be the unholiest stretch of land on earth.


Sirens pitch

The newly-built Sirens swimming pool/pitch at St Paul’s Bay has been completed to a high standard. However, I would like to point out the following: steps are needed for the platforms to make them more accessible and the public toilets have not yet been opened.

I had made these points in a letter in this newspaper on September 26, 2021 but action has still not been taken. I appeal to the management as well as the St Paul’s Bay local council to rectify the situation as soon as possible.


The right of persons with disability to vote in secrecy

Persons with disability in Malta should be able to vote in secrecy as is done by the general Maltese population. File photo: Shutterstock.com

“In line with the CRPD, the majority of EU countries offer persons with disabilities the possibility of freely choosing assistance to vote. However, in Greece and Malta, only election officials can assist persons with disabilities, something that may effectively discourage voters to participate in the elections.”

This information is quoted from the executive summary of the European Disability Forum (EDF)’s European Human Rights Report , Issues 6 – 2022, Human Rights Report on the political participation of persons with disabilities.

The Malta Federation of Organisations Persons with Disability (MFOPD) is the Malta representative on the European Disability Forum (EDF).

The UNCRPD is an international human rights treaty which reaffirms that persons with disability should enjoy all human rights and fundamental freedoms. All EU members states and the EU have ratified the UNCRPD, Malta included.

Article 29 of the convention requires that all contracting states protect “the right of the person with disabilities to vote by secret ballot in elections and public referendums”.

Once again, Malta’s general elections held earlier this year were not totally accessible to all persons with disability and, once again, some of the persons with disability who decided to exercise their right to vote had to do this not in an anonymous voting manner.

Persons with disability in Malta should be able to vote in secrecy as is done by the general Maltese population.

With the 2024 European Parliament elections approaching, MFOPD joins EDF and urges our national decision makers to acknowledge, consider and implement the following recommendations: guarantee all persons with disability the right to vote and to stand for election, maximise accessibility, including to information and provide reasonable accommodation so that persons with disability can vote independently and secretly.

MARTHESE MUGLIETTE – president, Malta Federation of Organisations Persons with Disability, Santa Venera

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