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Malta president says he’d resign rather than sign abortion bill

George Vella

Alexandros Michailidis | Shutterstock

John Burger - published on 05/21/21 - updated on 05/31/21

George Vella reacts to introduction of decriminalization law in Parliament.

The president of Malta has said he would sooner resign his position than sign legislation authorizing abortion in his country.

“I will never sign a bill that involves the authorization of murder,” said President George Vella, according to the Times of Malta.

“I cannot stop the executive from deciding, that is up to parliament. But I do have the liberty, if I don’t agree with a bill, to resign and go home, I have no problem doing this,” he said.

A Private Members’ Bill was introduced last week by independent Member of Parliament Marlene Farrugia to decriminalize abortion. Farrugia said that Malta is the only country in the European Union in which abortion is still illegal.

Poland allows abortion if the mother’s life or health is at risk, the pregnancy is the result of sexual assault or the unborn child has a severe anomaly. 

In response to the bill’s introduction, the Nationalist Party stressed that it believes in the most absolute way in life from conception to death and therefore can never be in favor of decriminalizing abortion. Party leader Bernard Grech said that the Nationalist Party is in favor “of taking the necessary measures in favor of the sexual health of all without endangering the life of the child … both before and even after birth.”

Vella, a medical doctor who has served as the Mediterranen island nation’s president since 2019, told the Maltese Net News he had the freedom to resign if he did not agree with Parliament’s decision. 

Asked if he was against the law in its entirety, Vella said that “there is no half-death and if you kill, you kill.”

Vella’s stance is reminiscent of Belgian King Baudouin, who in 1990 declared that he would not sign a bill liberalizing abortion laws. As members of his government signed the bill into law on April 4 of that year, he abdicated. However, he took up his post again 36 hours later.

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