The parliamentary secretary for equality was betraying the very concept of equality when she insisted that all pharmacies should sell the morning-after pill, even if that went against the conscience of a number of pharmacists, Nationalist MP Edwin Vassallo insisted in parliament on Wednesday.

Reacting to comments made last week by Parliamentary Secretary Rosianne Cutajar, Vassallo said he stood by his earlier comments that emergency contraception, including the morning-after pill, could be abortive, even if Cutajar was of a different view.

Tabling research by a number of scholars, Vassallo said that once life started from conception, one needed to be careful before speaking in the way the parliamentary secretary had done.

It seemed, however, that the parliamentary secretary shared the view of those who argued that life started from implantation in the uterus, which came some 15 days after conception. This, he said, was a view promoted in countries such as the United States by some who wanted to sell their medical products. 

But life needed to be protected even in the first 15 days between conception and implantation. In Maltese law, human life was protected from conception. 

Once the morning-after pill could be abortive one should not insist that pharmacists sell it, even if that went against their conscience, Vassallo said.
As the person responsible for equality, the parliamentary secretary should be championing the rights of all, even those who disagreed with her. Equality was about having more than one way, about diversity, not imposition.

Vassallo said he was therefore supporting the call made by the Chamber of Pharmacists last week when they wrote to the President calling for the right to conscientious objection to be respected in law. This, he said was what equality was about. 

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