Malta is a pro-life, largely Catholic country located south of Sicily. It’s the only country in the European Union where abortion is illegal unless the mother’s life is at risk, though intentionally killing a preborn child is never truly medically necessary. Yet Malta is also considering legalizing euthanasia, calling into question its support for pro-life principles.
Last month, the Labour Party outlined its vision for the country’s future, which included a “national discussion” on “voluntary euthanasia for people with a terminal illness.” Pierre Mallia, Professor of Family Medicine and Bioethics, spoke to the Malta Independent about the notion of legalizing euthanasia, and pointed out that what Malta truly needs is to improve its palliative care system.
“It would be tragic to introduce the practice without improving proper end-of-life care. All options need to be exhausted before considering euthanasia, including a more robust Palliative Care system,” he said. “We don’t really need euthanasia for 95-98% of cases in hospital. Introducing euthanasia without having proper palliative care before, would simply be considered as either a failure of our medical system or it would mean that there is a lack of in-depth analysis into the reality of the situation by political entities.”
According to the Malta Independent, a recent survey indicated that roughly half of the country approves of legal euthanasia. Currently, euthanasia is illegal and punishable by up to 12 years in prison.
Mallia said in his experience, doctors are loathe to participate in taking a life. “Our ethos as physicians is to save lives…. Certainly, our ethos is not to kill lives,” he said, again urging for improvements in palliative care. “Providing these people with healthcare and then leaving them incapacitated is not enough. In this way, we’re moving away from providing them with a fulfilled life. Consequently, one cannot be shocked to hear a patient plead: ‘Leave me alone and allow me to die.'”
He added, “The question of euthanasia touches on our basic human nature. Therefore, ‘Where do we want human nature to go? Are we meant to kill each other, if someone is sick or unhappy?’”
Malta is to be commended for continuing to resist pressure from abortion groups to legalize the killing of preborn children. However, from fertilization to natural death, every human being has inherent dignity and value, and that doesn’t change with one’s circumstances. Every life must be protected, whether it’s a preborn child or someone who is elderly, sick, or disabled.
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