Emma Portelli Bonnici, an openly pro-choice PN candidate, has thanked Bernard Grech for "having her back" hours after he said no one in favour of abortion will be allowed to form part of, or represent the party.

The lawyer said she will remain on the party’s ticket, adding she will not attempt to change the PN’s statute.  

Portelli Bonnici was reacting to Grech’s declaration on Tuesday against abortion – his clearest yet since becoming leader of the party.

"The issue of abortion, for me, is a closed one. This party was, is and will remain against abortion. My predecessors and I have made this position clear. The party’s position is also clearly listed in its statute,” he told a radio interview, accusing Labour of a false narrative over PN's stand on the matter.

Reacting, many liberal and pro-choice voters expressed their disappointment in Grech's comments while the Malta Women's Lobby urged political leaders to adopt a more sensitive approach on the issue of abortion.

Grech’s comments came days after Portelli Bonnici called for an end to the “systematic abuse of women who dare to speak about controversial views” after she was inundated by a barrage of hate speech over a comment about abortion that she never made.

The Curia had also intervened, asking Fr Andrew Borg - a priest who described her as a “satanist, murderer and butcher”- to remove his comments from Facebook.

In a Facebook post late on Wednesday, Portelli Bonnici listed a series of issues that made headlines this week – from Joseph Muscat’s receipt of tens of thousands of euros from a Swiss company to the PA’s attempt to hide development objections after outcry.

She said the PN had meanwhile also reiterated it was “not in favour of the act of abortion”. 

“I remain a candidate, fully aware of the party’s current statute, as I was before I accepted to be a candidate on the party’s ticket,” she said.

She said that Grech had laid to rest “all of the attacks following the misinformation campaign against me and the party”. 

“We will keep working together to fight this ineffective and corrupt government. I am on PN’s ticket not to change PN’s statute or introduce abortion but to be part of the change this country needs. Let’s put aside our differences and give Malta the government it deserves. 

“I would l like to thank everyone for all their support, love and encouragement, and to Bernard Grech who has had my back since day one.”

She also addressed those who find it hard to accept her: “I thank you too for participating in civil discussions and I will always respect – and fight - for your right to disagree with me”.

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