Foreign Minister says to you: “You’re not qualified to speak about abortion.”

Published: January 8, 2017 at 7:04pm

Are you a woman? Then you’re not qualified to speak about abortion. To do that, you’ve got to be a doctor, like Joseph Muscat’s foreign minister, who is furious that Nationalist Party candidate Salvu Mallia said in an interview that these are decisions people should take for themselves and not have the state take on their behalf.

Quite frankly, the rest of the Nationalist Party can just put a sock in it and let David Thake (on Radio 101, though) and Salvu Mallia win back those votes together. But catastrophically, the party hierarchy can’t see that those two can make massive inroads just on their own, doing what they do. And that’s because the Nationalist Party post 2003 has systematically failed to understand the audience that Thake and Mallia understand instinctively. They refuse to even acknowledge that it exists.

  • Granc

    Is George Vella talking about himself?

  • Salvu Mallia stated the obvious in what should be a developed country in the West, but unfortunately there are still hidebound people when it comes to abortion in Malta.

  • Fratell

    What is George Vella’s exact qualification in foreign affairs?

    • Exactly. Only doctors are qualified to speak about abortion, but doctors are also qualified to be Foreign Minister.

  • I see people in Malta are planning on reinventing the wheel again, as with divorce and the morning after pill.

    • J Sammut

      Exactly. While we are discussing abortion, pregnant Maltese girls travel abroad to have abortions, whether Salvu Mallia or the Foreign Minister agree or not.

      Eyes on the ball.

      In the meantime, the Three Kings at the Office of the Prime Minister continue scheming.

    • Francis Saliba MD

      Nowadays many people openly and unashamedly divorce and abort something that previously was done, just as often, but surreptitiously because illegal.

      Laws do not affect the moral aspect of such deeds, they do not invent/reinvent the wheels of morality. They only legalize what was, what still is, and what will always remain morally evil.

  • What qualifies a person to speak about abortion with authority? And why does abortion have to be spoken about authoritatively?

    • Jimmy Galea

      Because when you express an opinion, it helps if you actually know what you’re talking about.

      • That’s not ‘speaking with authority’. That’s an informed opinion. And if there is one person left on this island who doesn’t know what abortion is, please introduce me.

      • Jimmy Galea

        Hard to imagine speaking with any authority if you don’t have an informed opinion to begin with. And knowing of something, or knowing what it is, and being able to express an opinion on the matter that’s remotely worth listening to, are two totally different things.

      • I’m sorry, but what sort of ‘informed opinion’ are people expected to have about abortion? Abortion, like divorce, is about value judgements and not information. And value judgements don’t change according to the amount of information acquired. Both George Vella’s blanket stance against abortion and Salvu Mallia’s stance in favour of its availability for those who want it are value judgements, and that is exactly why they are intransigent.

      • Jimmy Galea

        For even a value judgement to have any significance (value?), it needs to be informed first. In fact, the value judgement is probably the one that needs most informing before it can be arrived at. A value is not something that one draws out of thin air but is derived from the acquisition of information, perhaps even wisdom, over time.

      • What is it that I have done for a living since 1990? You obviously don’t have an informed opinion about that, otherwise you wouldn’t be lecturing me about informed opinions on my own website which was set up for the express purpose of communicating exactly that.

      • Jimmy Galea

        – in which case your value judgement is devoid of worth, precisely because it is uninformed. It should have been clear from the outset that the sort of values, and their derivative judgements, that we’re talking about here are those formed in an adult mind as a consequence of observation, assimilation and reflection.

        The other sort probably predominate but if you’re going to stack those alongside the rest, that’s not going to leave you much room to discriminate between opinions either – specifically those that have worth as a consequence of being genuinely informed and the ocean of others that have none.

  • Sowxal

    Salvu Mallia is far better qualified to talk about abortion than a septuagenarian GP from a rahal in a tiny island is qualified to be Foreign Minister of a European Union member state.

  • Claude Sciberras

    You know your country is being led by amateurs when even in a 20-word sentence they manage to make spelling mistakes.

  • Well, I’d say that it’s because the debate is actually about assisted suicide, or being allowed to die (or being dispatched) only at your own specific request.

    But euthanasia has been historically associated with killing inconvenient others without their consent, to get them out of the way.

    In reality, as you know, euthanasia is standard medical practice in Malta already, and has been for years. Life-support machines are routinely switched off at the request of the next of kin, and it is generally the medical team who advise the next of kin when the point has been reached for this to be done.

    The individuals who refuse surgery or medical treatment, as they are within their right to do, are also opting for a form of euthanasia. I know of one case in which a diabetic with a gangrened toes refused to have them removed. The state hospital had no choice but to keep him there for weeks as the gangrene spread up his legs and killed him.

    • Timothy Duca

      I think Dr Vella’s statement is moronic, but your lumping passive and active euthanasia, which is dumbing down what’s being debated, perhaps validates why he’d think others are not qualified to comment.

      • It’s OK. I actually know a whole lot more than you think.

      • Timothy Duca

        No offence meant.

      • None taken. I’ve been called every name under the sun for almost 30 years and accused of a variety of creative crimes. So I’m past bothering.

  • J Sammut

    A doctor’s duty is to save lives. A patient can refuse treatment. I know of people who refused treatment and died a painless death, in Malta.

  • I’m afraid I don’t agree. If a person is in the dying throes of agony, only a sadist would insist on prolonging it. There is a magnificent parallel in one scene in the 1990s film The Last of the Mohicans. A man is being burned at the stake. The character played by Daniel Day Lewis hides in some bushes and shoots him dead.

    • Francis Saliba MD

      People in the “dying throes of agony” are better served by pain killing palliative medicine and continued support instead of intentional, premeditated murder by poisoning that is bound to create later doubts of conscience.

      I assign films properly where they belong to fantasy and to the screen not to form my conscience.

  • This is not about the film but about the philosophical conundrum encapsulated in that one scene.

    It is not, however, a conundrum to me. I too would have shot that man, and without a ment’s hesitation. The greater wrong would clearly gave been to allow him to burn to death.

  • Francis Saliba MD

    Labour panics because it has first hand experience of the utility of attracting minorites of all shades of opinions, even unsavoury ones, to score an election success.

    As the Scots say “Many a mickle makes a muckle”.

    Candidates and opinion-formers must be of great value to the Nationalist Party if the Labour Party dirty tricks propaganda machine bothers to denounce them.

  • What on earth are you on about? I think logic should be a mandatory subject in schools.

  • “Watching helplessly”

    But that’s just the point: we’re not helpless in those situations. We can actually do something to end it.

  • Please go away with the ‘killing babies’ argument. I’m not having that dumb, uneducated, backward redneck rubbish here.

  • Over-simplification. Most times women don’t want the man either. You need more life experience.

    • Ionela Muscat

      That’s your opinion but it does not mean you are right. Killing a baby is not whites women are about. We are supposed to be the protectors of their little lives and not their executioners.

      • No, it’s not my opinion or even a matter of opinion, Ms. Muscat. It’s fact. Babies and foetuses are different things biologically, linguistically and even at law. That is exactly why people are registered at birth, at law, and not at conception. That is also why we have birthdays and not conception days.

      • Francis Saliba MD

        No madam, they are not different biologically just as much as a newly born baby is a human being just as much as an adult. Foetuses, newly born babies and adults are one and the same biological continuum. The difference may be forensic but it is not biological.

      • Of course there’s a biological difference. They are not the same thing just because they have the same DNA or start from the same cells. If that were the case, identical twins would be the same ‘thing’ too, rather than two separate people.

      • Jimmy Galea

        Nope. Two individuals with the same DNA are just that – two individuals with the same DNA. It’s a surprisingly common occurrence in the biological world. And as long as there exists only one individual with that DNA, all you’re ever going to have is that same living individual at earlier or later stages of life.

      • Francis Saliba MD

        And it is because of that forensic stupidity that abortions are being carried out on half-delivered babies because at law a human being does not exist until it is fully born.

  • Please go away. I’m beginning to understand what George Vella meant about the unqualified. Babies are defined at law, in the dictionary and in biology. Abortion deals with foetuses, not babies.

    • Andrew Mercieca

      Fetuses / babies… it is still a choice between convenience and life…

      • Sure, that’s why most men of your generation and Paul Vincenti’s talk about convenience, being pro-life, the preciousness of babies, but then expect the mother to change all the nappies.

        Sorry, but when you next get pregnant, let me know.

  • You are hysterical and ill-informed, and unfortunately, all too typical of women who are insufficiently educated. It is people like you who give women a bad name generally as having inept, unschooled or weak thought processes.

    But let’s not get into that.

    Foetuses are not babies. Nobody is suggesting killing babies. Malta is not going to reinvent the wheel on abortion. It can’t.

    And a word of advice: because you are so emotional about the subject, you are unlikely to have been told by those you know, who have had abortions, that they have had one. I suggest you keep your rabid views about “killing babies” to yourself because you might well have a sister, cousin, other relative or friend who had an abortion unbeknownst to you.

    That’s exactly what I told Paul Vincenti. But he’s so obtuse that he didn’t get it. On an island where abortion is immediately accessible to people in nearby Catania – more accessible, really, than it is to people living in rural towns and villages in North America and Europe – and where secrecy reigns supreme largely because it is a taboo subject and a crime, you cannot possibly be aware who you are hurting, and deeply, among those who are close to you.

    • Andrew Mercieca

      ouch mela min ma jaqbilx mieghek huwa ‘uneducated’?.. I’m impressed how tolerant you are for diverse ideas!

      • No, you can tell Ms Muscat is uneducated from the way she writes, which reflects the way she thinks. Unschooled, as well as uneducated.

  • I’m beginning to understand why chauvinistic men sometimes say to women, “Calm down, dear.” You are enough to make even somebody like me a misogynist.

    But then anybody who thinks women, or girls of 13, should be forced to have babies is a misogynist to beat them all.

    I often wonder what makes people like you so hysterical about the subject, because it’s obviously not religion or anything like that. With Paul Vincenti, it was his inability to have a baby until fairly late in life, a lot of things having gone wrong. What’s your story?

    I had three children, very young, and no abortions – and my view is that I can’t take the decision for anyone else and that it’s fundamentally sick to force somebody to go through with a pregnancy when that pregnancy can be stopped within days of conception.

  • Fatuous and misleading: an abortion at one month is not the same thing as a late-term abortion, and the law of every country sets a time-limit for abortions.

  • Oh, for God’s sake. I really have no time for stupid people and even less time for stupid women, unfortunately. At least stupid men generally know when to shut up because they go out to work and don’t spend all day having stupid online exchanges with other dumb, unschooled housewives on Facebook, giving them the impression that they’re right because all the other housewives think as they do.


    And they would only need help if they can’t reach for the tub of Panadol themselves, otherwise they would just reach for the tub of Panadol or drive to the nearest cliff.

  • I think you need to get up to speed with the law, Ms Muscat. Maltese law doesn’t acknowledge you as a person before you leave the womb. So if Maltese law doesn’t allow you to abort, it’s not because the foetus or ‘unborn child’ is a person.

  • Hallihom jghidu, Sur Sammut. This is going to be a rerun of the abortion debate, with half of Malta behaving as though this dumb rock is going to be the last earthly bastion against divorce until the end of time. Do these people actually know they live on a rock? Because sometimes, I don’t think so.

  • Major Tom

    George Vella has the right to express his opinion, but he has no right to decide who can express an opinion and who cannot.

    As a matter of fact, being a seasoned dishonest politician, he tried to dismiss the opinion of others without clearly expressing his, just in case his corrupt leader decides to be ‘liberal’ and ‘progressive’.

    • Francis Saliba MD

      Reluctantly assuming the role of a devil’s advocate on thos occasion I did not understand him to be suppressing the expression of opinions. He was merely challenging the validity of that expressed opinion as lacking “authority” (meaning competence).

      • Major Tom

        It is healthy to assume the role of a devil’s advocate, so I suggest to try to assume that role again and find a reason why George Vella does not clearly express his opinion.

  • H.P. Baxxter

    We’ve been here before. About a million times. So I’ll give you the short answer: There is no justification for killing babies.

  • Dina Crispar

    The old man seems to be slipping. It appears age is beginning to take its toll. I wonder how someone on the wrong side of 70 feels when subjected to the authority of a boss 30 years younger. It must be better than having to face “the wilderness”, I guess.

  • I’m afraid you’re wrong. It has absolutely nothing to do with dates. The reason why individuals begin after birth is the obvious one that before birth they are not individual but part of another person’s body.

    • Francis Saliba MD

      No, madam. For months prior to birth the baby has its own independently functioning separate beating heart, circulation and a functioning central nervous system enabling it to move etc separately from its mother. They are frequently separated some time after the death of the mother and progress to a healthy adulthood.

      • Not before five months. In fact that is the usual time-barring for abortion: whether the foetus is viable or not outside the womb.

    • Jimmy Galea

      Daphne, whereas your political acumen is second to none, your scientific knowhow is nonexistent. The two individuals are two genetically distinct human beings and the fact that the primary life cycle of one rests within the body of another has nothing to do with the individuality of the younger and everything to do with the fact that the greatest support to the younger is found within the body of the elder.

      • If you carry on in this fashion, I shall have to end up blocking you. Do you honestly think I don’t know that mothers and their children are genetically distinct? The point here is that a foetus , before five months, is not viable when removed from the womb. It is therefore genetically separate but cannot survive when separated, meaning that it is, in fact, not separate at all at that stage. There no such thing as ‘your political acumen’. It is simply my ability to think straight – on abortion, viability of the foetus and Muscat’s personality.

      • Francis Saliba MD

        You admit that mother and baby are genetically distinct then you are admitting that they are distinct persons and not one being only a part of the other.

      • I’m really not interested in having this debate. It’s a rerun of the farcical and pointless divorce debate before the even more farcical and pointless referendum on the subject. Because of course, with the entire world having legislation for divorce and abortion, we sit on our 17 mile by 9 rock and rehash the reasons why we should be unique, exceptional and different.

    • Francis Saliba MD

      It has everything to do with dates chosen by the law givers and differing widely between different judicatures.

  • Francis Saliba MD

    People are being murdered all over the world. We cannot change that bad thing and many others. But no one proposes that homicide be legalised and promoted in Malta “because it is relatively easy” to recruit a Mafia killer from mainland Europe.

    • Abortion is legal all over the world. Murder is illegal everywhere. That is the point being made here: that Malta is not about to reinvent the morality wheel. This is a repeat of all that stupidity with divorce.

      If somebody wants to have an abortion, they have an abortion. If somebody wants to divorce, they divorce. If somebody wants to murder somebody, they end up hunted down and in prison if caught. Everywhere.

  • I think you have got a lot of reading to do. Start now.

    • Jimmy Galea

      Wrong again, ma’am. I’ve done about all the reading it is possible to do on this subject, whereas it is emerging that you have some way to go yet.
      The trouble is, Daphne, that science and logic are not the same thing. Science requires logical thought as one of its’ components but it also requires a great deal more – and that includes hard fact, even if those facts appear to fly in the face of reason. It is not something that one can simply pick up. It requires years of specific training to become even a capable scientist, never mind an exceptional one, and the requirements are never properly understood by individuals outside the field. The trouble with non-scientists, as with all non-professionals in every field under the sun, is that they inevitably believe that they know an awful lot more than is ever the case

      • Again, please. This is a debate about the legality of abortion and the basis for that legality. We are NOT going to reinvent the world society wheel here with debates about whether foetuses are people and whether abortion is murder. There is nothing new to be said and any attempt at rehashing all this rubbish comes across as ridiculous.

      • Maria Brincat

        Loved his opening sentence: “I’ve done about all the reading it is possible to do on this subject”.

        I guess he expects us to be impressed. Funny, though, how a man (who will never be faced by the situation of a woman considering an abortion) sees fit to consider himself an expert.

  • I think you’re on the wrong website. I’ll give you Paul Vincenti’s number if you like, and you can meet for coffee and vent together.

  • Hello, Pierre. No, I don’t block people when they disagree with me. You can’t have failed to notice that there are people who disagree with me routinely.

    I block them when they’re dishonest or maliciously motivated. After years of dealing with this kind of thing, I can identify personal malice pretty quickly and actually use a series of quick tricks to draw their true motivation out immediately, if it is there, once I notice a certain tone.

    There are certain individuals – many of them, actually – who are not interested in the argument, the debate or even the subject, but who are only looking to pick a fight with me because of some personal grudge. Those sorts of people can bugger off elsewhere, like that Facebook group Women for Women, for example, where it’s a free-for-all anti-Daphne bitchfest (so much for ‘women for women’ – and then when a woman makes a name for herself they stick out their claws and scratch).

    • Francis Saliba MD

      ” …. why aren’t they allowed to have them (abortions) in Malta?”

      It is because because jurisdictions do not extend beyond borders – otherwise we would be obliged to adopt Sharia law in Malta also.

      • That wasn’t my point.

        My point is this: that piously refusing to legislate for abortion in Malta while having our abortion requirements seen to in neighbouring Sicily is hypocrisy of the worst order.

  • That’s a rubbish argument, Pierre, which is based on a false premise. The foetus, for the first few months after conception, is an integral part of the mother’s body. You cannot remove it and keep popping it into different wombs to incubate (at least not yet). Yes, you can conceive it outside the womb, but once it goes into the womb it’s got to stay there until it becomes viable for survival outside the womb.

    Babies depend on others for survival, yes, but they can be fed and changed by a hundred different people and moved about anywhere with whomever.

  • I’m not going to get into this argument, Pierre. It’s no longer 1966. I would never have an abortion myself (the question is now academic anyway) but equally, I would never dream of forcing somebody to stay pregnant against her will. I actually find that idea frightening. And obliging a 13-year-old to carry a baby to term, deliver it and look after it – or worse, give it up for adoption? Beyond horrific. There are too many grey areas for all this black-and-white pro-life thinking. That’s why rabid pro-lifers like Paul Vincenti are, in reality, cold, hard and intransigent people with a righteousness born out of an innate cruelty.

    • Francis Saliba MD

      You do not force anybody to stay pregnant. You would not be approving the interruption of life by destroying it. Please let us call a spade a spade. That destruction is a killing whatever the preferred nomenclauture.

      • It’s forcing somebody to stay pregnant. If a woman doesn’t want to be pregnant and you stop her getting an abortion, you are obviously forcing her to stay pregnant. Fortunately it’s not an issue in Malta because everybody in this situation can, and does, get a cheap flight to Catania or London. That’s exactly how the political parties have been able to avoid pressure to legislate, right until 2017.

      • La Redoute

        Or their doctor orders a D&C.

  • Francis Saliba MD

    Your attempt to make a distinction between “lives” and “viable lives” is very quaint but very personal.
    There is a very big difference between abstaining from giving further ineffective treatment and actually administering poison or other means.
    Stop repeating the idiocy that whatever exists in Malta (your euthanasia) must be actively promoted. Homicide is a very frequent occurrence but that is no reason to promote it.

  • “Have you forgotten that you were a foetus too?”

    This is the most incredibly spurious argument. Those who weren’t born were never around to know or care.

    I think you need to ask your wife or girlfriend (or your mother) about what are euphemistically known as ‘missed periods’ and which are actually natural miscarriages. No woman goes around weeping in grief over those – not unless she’s trying desperately to have a child and can’t. Everybody else just buys larger tampons that month and carries on.

    I often wonder where all these romantically sentimental views come from – is it fundamental ignorance of the reproductive system, religious obsession, or what?

  • I had no idea surgeons entered public online debates with expressions like ‘what a load of crap’. But let’s give you the benefit of the doubt. The only medical man on record called Andrew Mercieca is a urologist who deals with terminally fatal problems of dying men, like erectile dysfunction:

  • That’s the trouble: you deal on a daily basis with people who have problems conceiving. And that skews your perspective because you forget that for every woman who wants to conceive there are thousands who don’t.

    And forcing women to stay pregnant who don’t want to be is not going to help your patients conceive and stay pregnant. So your argument, besides being completely inhumane, is also completely illogical.

    ‘My fair share of nappies’ – every man I have ever known says that. As though it is a ‘share’ in which you do your bit. I have yet to meet a woman who counts the nappies she changes and thinks of it as doing her fair share.

    Your wife must have had a lovely time struggling alone with four children while you were off testing other men’s willies after doing your ‘fair share’ in the house.

    Quite frankly, I think men should stay off the subject of whether women should be forced to stay pregnant or not. Do you not even realise how appalling it sounds, when a man says that a woman HAS TO remain pregnant? For the sake of common sense alone, just stay off the subject.

    Your lack of empathy is horrendous.

  • You have no right to control whether women become or stay pregnant. That is the point at issue.

  • What is ‘legalised fraud’? It is either fraud or it is legal.

  • ‘Changing nappies’ is a cipher, Dr Saliba. In the age of the disposable, it’s not a nappy that’s the problem. It’s the idea that when a man changes a nappy, he’s earning brownie points and doing a favour to the child’s mother. The mother doesn’t mind changing nappies, but she does mind this attitude. This is not a revelation. Having spent many years of my life in the constant company of mothers of young children, I know what I’m talking about. Our world was one in which men spoke of “babysitting” when they were left in sole charge of their own children. Let’s hope it’s not so bad one generation down the line.

  • c schembri

    Arrogance often comes with ignorance and vice versa. This clown is a living proof.

  • Francis Saliba MD

    The wheel that is being invented is the attempted moral justification of the unnatural killing of a helpless child growing inside the protective womb of its mother who should be cherishing that developing child not destroying it.

  • Maria Brincat

    Of course…they’re pregnant too, aren’t they?

  • callixtus

    His conscience should have obliged him to speak when abortions were routinely carried out, with the blessing of the authorities, at St Luke’s Hospital during the “Golden Years of Labour”.

  • Major Tom

    It is more likely that he is in transit than not. He’d tell you one thing and do another just as he did in the case of the vote of confidence concerning Mizzi and Schembri.