Thursday, 15 October 2009

Times: 'Majority of students oppose abortion'

Thursday, 15th October 2009 by Christian Peregin

A slight majority of University students, 55 per cent, believe divorce should be introduced, as opposed to 33 per cent who are adamantly against, according to a survey.

Students are also mostly in favour of gay marriage, cohabitation and the morning-after pill but strongly against abortion.

More than 70 per cent of students also agree with installing a condom machine on campus, even though the issue sparked a heated debate during the launch of the "progressive" student organisation MOVE.

During an event entitled Sex for L(a)unch, held at the University quadrangle, some 100 students gathered to hear the study's findings and take part in a debate about sexual health.

MOVE president Godfrey Galea explained his movement supported the introduction of divorce, gay marriage, cohabitation rights and condoms on campus, but disagreed with abortion and was still discussing its position on the morning-after pill.

He said progressives should be courageous enough to discuss issues "our conservative society" has been afraid to face.

"Progressive is when you believe everyone has every right to live freely and equally without discrimination. Progressives believe everyone should have the right to choose and make their own decisions without anyone or anything imposing what should or should not be done. Progressives do not accept the status quo and believe change serves to renew," he said.

Interestingly, female students were more likely to back gay marriage than their male counterparts, even though there was no significant difference in the replies of men and women on the other issues.

During the debate, medical student Gaby Scicluna said the condom machine on campus was not only important to promote safe sex but was a symbol of the distinction that had to be made between the Church and the University, which was a secular education institution.

However, various students, including Luke Cutajar from the University Students Catholic Movement (MKSU), said University was not a place for sex and the distribution of condoms gave the wrong impression to students.

MOVE spokesman Byron Camilleri said it was worrying Malta still had no sexual health policy and that the Church's views on sexual health education did not respect today's realities when on average people lost their virginity at 16.

He complained about those who criticised the distribution of free condoms by Vodafone during Freshers' Week and said this issue had been discussed for 10 years, which was evidently a taboo that still had to be broken.

Meanwhile, theology lecturer Raymond Zammit said just because the majority of students agreed with something did not mean they were right. If the majority were in favour of heroin it did not mean they were right.

Statistician Vincent Marmarà said the scientific survey was carried out during Freshers' Week, where 395 Maltese University students were randomly asked to share their opinion about a number of hot issues.

The survey confirmed the situation as painted by the University Chaplaincy in another recent survey which found similar, if not more controversial findings. In the Chaplaincy's survey, more than a third of University students (37 per cent) had said abortion could sometimes be morally acceptable, and 57 per cent said divorce should be legalised in Malta.

Three-quarters of students said there was nothing wrong with premarital sex and cohabitation should be approved.

Only 15 per cent said artificial contraception was morally wrong.

Research results

Yes: 54.9%; No: 32.7%; Don't know: 12.4%

Yes: 14.4%; No: 78.7%; Don't know: 6.8%

Gay marriage
Yes: 48.6%; No: 35.2%; Don't know: 16.2%

Yes: 69.9%; No: 13.4%; Don't know: 16.7%

Morning-after pill
Yes: 49.1%; No: 35.9%; Don't know: 14.9%

Condom machine
Yes: 70.6%; No: 18.2%; Don't know: 11.1%

[Click on the hyperlink above to view the comments on the Times'website.]

Interesting comment on the Times' website:

J Farrugia
Surveys are a sham, they are not veritable. nothing to go by. I know there are idiots at the University but it is just a small fraction of the whole university community. And this small fraction is aided by some of the lecturers etc. So I really am going to sleep soundly knowing that the majority of the UM students are morally sane. remember today's university there are over 10,000 students. So what does this small fraction represent? In a cartel there are always some bad apples. let's just isolate them.

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