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Censoring the president: Pro-lifers in Malta say a sentence was omitted from Holocaust speech

President Georg W. Vella of Malta


John Burger - published on 01/29/23

Malta is debating legalization of direct abortion. George Vella's comments about it were deleted from broadcast.

Pro-life advocates in Malta are accusing the nation’s public broadcasting company of censoring the country’s president over his comments about abortion.

Life Network Foundation, Doctors for Life, and I See Life, on behalf of the Inti Tista’ Ssalvani coalition, have filed a complaint about Public Broadcasting Services Limited, or PBS, the Times of Malta reported. They charged that PBS’ January 26 news broadcast, which covered a speech President George W. Vella delivered to commemorate the Holocaust, deliberately omitted a line about the killing of unborn babies.

In the speech, Vella warned against the use of dehumanizing language and noted that racism and discrimination continue today. He also noted that “millions of unborn babies are being killed before they even have the possibility to see the light of day.”

Given the ongoing controversy about abortion laws in Malta, that was tantamount to censoring the president, the pro-life organizations charged. 

“This is not the first case where the PBS newsroom has chosen to be selective and censor its reporting,” the groups said on Saturday.

They said that PBS is constitutionally bound to report the news objectively and comprehensively, and that was not possible if the broadcaster served as “an instrument of censorship.”

Understanding life

The Maltese parliament is currently debating changes to the Mediterranean island nation’s laws that would allow abortions in cases when a mother’s life or health are in serious danger.

Church teaching recognizes a key distinction between deliberately taking the life of the child (an abortion) in high-risk pregnancies and performing an action (a treatment, surgery, etc.) that would save the life of the mother even if indirectly resulting in the death of the child. The direct killing of the baby (an abortion) is not ethical.

The National Catholic Bioethics Center explains:

Operations, treatments, and medications that have as their direct purpose the cure of a proportionately serious pathological condition of a pregnant woman are permitted when they cannot be safely postponed until the unborn child is viable, even if they will result in the death of the unborn child.

A physician-president

In 2021, President Vella, who worked as a physician before entering politics, said he would resign his office rather than sign legislation authorizing abortion in Malta.

“I will never sign a bill that involves the authorization of murder,” he said at the time.

Vella, 80, has been president of Malta since 2019, having served previously as deputy prime minister and foreign minister. A member of the Labor Party, he has served in Parliament since 1978 and has also been a representative to the Council of Europe.

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