The Labour Party has clarified that it is not proposing the introduction of abortion in Malta, after a vaguely-worded clause in its electoral manifesto raised eyebrows.

The party issued its clarification in reply to questions by the pro-life LifeNetwork Foundation.

The foundation sent questions to the prime minister last week, asking for clarification of a pledge in the Labour electoral manifesto, which seemed to infer ambiguously to a Labour government introducing abortion rights.

Under the subhead Sexual Health in all of its diversity, proposal 506 of Labour's electoral manifesto says that a Labour government will update the sexual health policy in the shortest possible time. The new policy 'will reflect today's realities with regards to health, sexual and reproductive rights, in all of their diversity'.

It also says Labour will publish an action plan intended to keep the government accountable to deliver on the policy.

Proposal 506 of Labour's manifesto in the original Maltese.Proposal 506 of Labour's manifesto in the original Maltese.

"The prime minister’s position on the subject was made very clear in a press release issued by the PL in May 2021 and remains consistent," the party said.

At the time, the party was reported saying that the prime minister was against the legalisation of abortion but he believed that he needed to carefully follow the public discussion.

"The current sexual health policy was published in 2011 and there is broad consensus that its contents are outdated. Priority actions, stakeholders and the care services need to be updated in a new policy," the PL said. 

Back in 2011 policy was published by the Ministry of Health, the Elderly and Community care, headed by PN minister Joe Cassar. It outlined the government's principles on sexual health, including a plan for the identification of the most pressing issues. It suggested a roadmap towards improved education and awareness among parents, young adults and professionals.

Last week the Doctors for Life Foundation also demanded assurances over the wording of the manifesto proposals regarding abortion and also euthanasia.

The Labour Party clarified that despite it having suggested the start of a national discussion on the introduction of voluntary euthanasia, it was not pledging to make the practice legal if re-elected to government and that there were still "different views on the matter within the party".

"PL is giving a guarantee of the best possible palliative care. The electoral manifesto proposes a national discussion on voluntary euthanasia for persons suffering from terminal illnesses," it said.

"PL believes that the discussion on such a sensitive topic should not be led by politicians."

The foundation also sought clarification on abortion from the Nationalist Party, which replied that it "was and is steadfastly in favour of life from conception to natural death" and it quoted the party statute on its stance in favour of life.

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