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Local News -- 28 May 2012 -- 16:35CEST
Nationalist MP Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando made a scathing attack this afternoon against Government for not keeping promises made to introduce free IVF treatment to all by the end of 2011 and by not having put forward for discussion the law giving rights to couples who are cohabitating.
The criticism by Dr Pullicino Orlando was made during a press conference called by Moviment IVAgħall-għażla, IVA għad-divorzju on the occasion of the first anniversary of the referendum held last year that led to the introduction of divorce in Malta.
Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando said that unlike Minister for Health Joseph Cassar and Minister for Gozo Giovanna Debono, the Movement had not wasted the time of journalists to take them up to Gozo in announcing the introduction of naprotechnology in Gozo, a technology which he described as a repackaging of natural family planning.
Dr Pullicino Orlando said that he hopes that the Government is not once again making the mistake of not separating the state from the Church. He said that although the IVF legislation has not been passed through Parliament, the practice is still taking place in private clinics and the ability for couples to have children is so far only available to those who can afford it. “We have the same situation as we had in the case of divorce,” he said. He went on to say that it is ridiculous that at Mater Dei hospital there is a clinic and the equipment needed to provide the treatment that at the moment are simply being left unutilised.
The Nationalist MP asked if the hastily-called press conference in Gozo was a way for Government to appease Bishop of Gozo Mario Grech. “Are we afraid of the Church?” he asked. He said that elected politicians do not have the right to only listen to Bishop Grech and ignore what the rest of the Maltese are saying. “The right to have IVF treatment as well as the regulation of cohabitation and gay relationships should be formalised,” he said.
Dr Pullicino Orlando also referred to a young Nationalist MP who spoke in Parliament against the introduction of condom dispensing machines at University. “It is absurd to have a young MP talk so. If an MP had to say the same say in the UK Parliament, he would find a car waiting outside for him to take him to ‘a special place’” he said.
The press conference was also addressed by Labour MP Evarist Bartolo, who described the way that Moviment IVA had worked “as a way that shows how the country could gain more if people with different political views work together for a common cause.”
Evarist Bartolo said that many people he is meeting during house visits are telling him that now they can get on with life thanks to their divorce being formalised. “No-one has accused us of having broken up families. A marriage first breaks down and that is then followed by separation or divorce,” he said.
Mr Bartolo said that the same model could be used for other areas where it would be difficult for one party to recommend change for fear of losing votes.
Chairman of the Moviment IVA Deborah Schembri referred to comments made by Mgr Anton Gouder that two-thirds of applications for divorce in court were tendered by just one party and went against the other party’s wish. Dr Schembri said that such a claim was not realistic. She said that in the majority of cases, a person who wants divorce applies at the law courts and the other party declares that they do not oppose it.
She added that out of the 500 applications for divorce filed at the Law Courts since October, only four were not given a sentence in the affirmative. Although the grounds for such a decision are not known, most probably the cases were ones in which the party involved had not paid the maintenance due or else the four years since the marriage breakup had not yet passed.