A Labour government will start a national discussion on the introduction of euthanasia.
The pledge is one of some 1,000 that were unveiled by PL leader Robert Abela on Friday evening.
Article 213 of the Maltese Criminal Code says: “Whosoever shall prevail on any person to commit suicide or shall give him any assistance, shall, if the suicide takes place, be liable, on conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 years.”
According to a 2016 survey 90.2 per cent of doctors registered in Malta are against the introduction of euthanasia.
So-called active euthanasia, when fatal treatment is administered to end life, is only legal in a handful of countries around the world.
Conversely, passive euthanasia, when life-saving treatment is withheld, is far more common.
In January last year, Abela had heavily hinted at looking to legislate on the matter telling party supporters how he had agonised over the subject when a friend of his had been diagnosed with an illness.
“Just as the Labour party had been courageous when it came to spearheading other social reforms, it could not continue to ignore this delicate issue which touches so many people’s lives,” he had said.
PL deputy leader Daniel Micallef has also voiced support for a discussion on the subject in the past.
He had spoken out after his own father had lost his battle with a fatal illness.
In a Facebook post in October last year, Micallef had reacted to news that New Zealand was legislating to introduce euthanasia.
He said that he was not only in favour of voluntary euthanasia but he was campaigning to see this right introduced when the time comes.
On the other side of the political spectrum, Nationalist Party leader Bernard Grech has said he does not want euthanasia to be turned into an electoral issue.
In heartfelt remarks about his ageing mother, Grech had said he found the concept of euthanasia “very worrying” but that the issue merited serious discussion, away from the glare and euphoria of an electoral campaign.
Former Nationalist minister Tonio Fenech had reacted to Abela’s remarks urging him to think again.
Writing in Times of Malta, Fenech said euthanasia is not mercy killing but killing mercy.
The only political party to explicitly call for euthanasia legislation so far is Volt Malta, which is fielding just two candidates in the upcoming election.
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