So, Adrian Delia can cure cancer. Pity he wasn’t around 15 years ago, when I had to make do with the sterling services of Malta’s national health system. U ħallina Drin. But hold on a sec. If he can promise to make me thin (without diets please) and regrow my mane he has my vote, no question.

If cancer is no laughing matter, abortion is a deadly serious business. First, let’s get my agenda out of the way. I am pro-life. For me that means that I am for a sustainable lifestyle, and for drastic action to save the planet, its flora and fauna. I am for respect to and inclusion of immigrants.

I am against war and violence, including towards journalists. I am against violence on women. I am against the death penalty, and against industrialised and institutionalised greed that strips the poor of their livelihood and dignity.

It therefore follows logically that I am against abortion.

That does not mean that I identify in any way with the ‘murder is murder’ wild-eyed brigade of bible-bashing mono-maniacs. I remember a conference some years ago about environmental protection, and this nut-case stood up to declaim that the womb was also an environment, and needed to be protected as much as the trees and the seas. We could not decide whether to laugh or to groan.

This kind of rhetorical tripe is making the rounds again. It is the best form of strategic and discursive suicide of the pro-life argument that the pro-abortion campaigners could possibly wish for.

I’m afraid that, yet again, the ‘panic button’ Labour billboard is spot-on

Yes, there has to be a mature discussion on abortion, even if just out of respect for the pro-abortion minority. That is how democracy functions. Surely we can agree that any such mature debate should be grounded in science not ideology?

Of course, a mature discussion does not mean that people do not come into the debate with opinions and agendas. There is no doubt in my mind that Labour does not have a pro-life agenda, but an agenda that champions individual (or rather voters’) liberties. Nor is this out of this world – many other political parties around the world, not just those on the left, have had such an agenda for decades.

Labour has been consistent in declaring that the only reason it has not placed abortion on the legislative table is because there is still a majority against it. Theirs is a strategic imperative, not a moral one – Labour has long divested itself of any awkward moral considerations in its governance.

This means that before Delia’s outburst the abortion issue was not in the political debating arena, but in that of civil society. It was up to civil society, in all its varied hues of opinion, to engage and persuade the general public. This is as it should be.

So, what on earth possessed Delia to put abortion on the EP electoral platform? How, exactly, are our MEPs going to ‘fight’ against Europe’s abortion windmills? And how, exactly, is the personal agenda of any President of the European Commission going to overwhelm the decision-making powers of the Council of Ministers and overturn the solemn agreements that the EU undertook with Malta on accession?

I’m afraid that, yet again, the ‘panic button’ Labour billboard is spot-on.

Yes it is true that Labour, in its usual contempt for legislative due process, has been steadily undermining the legal constraints on the eventual introduction of abortion – look at the IVF and the Violence against Women laws, to mention but two. But the correct way to push back is by highlighting these tactics in the civil society debating arena, not by making abortion a matter of party political identity.

What Delia has not yet realised is that the PN’s bumbling electoral strategy is destined to have exactly the reverse effect that it claims to aspire for. When (unfortunately, not if) the EP election will return a massive victory for Muscat and Labour, it will be justified in claiming that since Delia’s anti-abortion agenda has been so comprehensively defeated, this implies an increasing mandate for abortion legislation.

Delia’s opportunistic anti-abortion theatrics will have a tragic consequence. If it will not be Delia’s resignation, it will be the fast forwarding of the red sunrise of abortion legislation in Malta.

Ciantar vs Borg

As I drive by the widening road between Mosta and Rabat, or between Naxxar and San Ġwann, or between Santa Luċija and Luqa, I cannot help thinking of the motto of the Ankh-Morpork Post Office: “Neither rain nor snow nor gloom of night can stay these messengers about their duty.”

(Oh, do keep up. It’s from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. It’s as good an alternative universe as Tolkein’s Middle Earth; far more habitable that Muscat’s and more believable than Delia’s.)

Nothing, it seems, can stop Transport Minister Ian Borg’s roadmaking juggernauts from fulfilling their appointed task: the tarmacification of Malta. And up to some time ago I thought the same went for his gobbling up of ODZ land to expand his villa.

But Borg may have met his nemesis. Noel Ciantar has been doggedly following Borg’s alleged legal indiscretions for years, first as Dingli mayor and now in his manipulation of Planning Authority regulations. Some of Ciantar’s motivation may well be personal, but he certainly deserves more attention and support for his solitary crusade than he is currently getting.

Noel, keep digging for the truth.

This is a Times of Malta print opinion piece

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