Pro-life organisations have filed a complaint about public broadcaster PBS, saying it censored comments President George Vella made about abortion. 

Life Network Foundation, Doctors for Life and I See Life, on behalf of the Inti Tista’ Ssalvani coalition, have written to both PBS and the Broadcasting Authority about the matter, they said in a statement on Saturday. 

The bone of contention concerns PBS’ January 26 news broadcast, which included a segment about a speech given by the president to commemorate the Holocaust. 

In that speech, President Vella warned against the use of dehumanising language and noted that racism and discrimination continued in the present day.

He also noted that "millions of unborn babies are being killed before they even have the possibility to see the light of day".

That line was not included in the PBS news segment, with pro-life groups saying that, given ongoing controversy about abortion laws in Malta, that was tantamount to censoring the president. 

The broadcaster, they said, had covered everything President Vella said, “except what he said about abortion”. 

The TVM news clip about the Holocaust commemoration event. Video: PBS

“This is not the first case where the PBS newsroom has chosen to be selective and censor its reporting. This was also done in the case of Ms. Prudente where PBS newsroom completely censored what the doctors said,” the groups said on Saturday. PBS is constitutionally bound to report the news objectively and comprehensively, they said, and that was not possible if the broadcaster served as “an instrument of censorship” rather than information. 

In their letter, the pro-life groups asked PBS to report what the president said “without censorship”.  They also sent a copy of the letter to the Broadcasting Authority, in line with its complaints procedure. 

Parliament is currently debating changes to Malta’s abortion laws that would, if passed, allow doctors to terminate pregnancies in cases when a mother’s life or health are in serious danger.

The proposals have sparked a wave of anger and protest, with opponents accusing the government of seeking to legalise abortion in Malta by stealth. 

MPs are expected to debate the proposals – and amendments to them presented by the government – in the coming weeks.  

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