Dr Martin Balzan, president of the Medical Association of Malta said that the Equality Bill as proposed can pave the way for the introduction of abortion and euthanasia. Balzan was interviewed on 103 Malta’s Heart by Fr Joe Borg.
Balzan said that the proposed draft includes a supremacy clause that priviliges this law over every other law except the Constitution. This means, said Balzan, that a doctor who refuses to perform and abortion or euthanasia can be accused of discrimination by the person who asked for these interventions. Doctors should not be esposed to such danger from legal challenges that can cost them a lot.
Balzan said that he believes that it is not the Government’s intention to do so and strongly appealed to government to repeal the supremacy clause form the proposed draft.
Balzan is not the first person to show concern about the Equality Law as proposed.
Chief Justice Emeritus and former Judge of the European Court of Human Rights Vincent De Gaetano told Newsbook.com.mt that there is reason for concern with the drafts proseded in Parliament.
The Bishops also expressed concern that these bills “have serious implications on the freedom of every person”. They pointed out that freedom of thought, freedom of conscience and freedom of religion for all persons living in Malta and Gozo have so far always been safeguarded by the Constitution of Malta, by the European Convention and also by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. “If the Bills are not amended with caution and transparency, they will threaten the fundamental freedom that we have always cherished” warned the Episcopal Conference.
“The Paradox of Equality and Discrimination”
The Equality Bill impacts the rights of freedom of thought and conscience which is guaranteed by the Constitution of Malta and recognized by the United Nations Charter Of Human Rights, said the Malta Chamber of Pharmacists in a statement published on Thursday.
Pharmacists as stated in their Oath, cannot legally, professionally and ethically discriminate when rendering a pharmaceutical service to their patients and clients but they have the precious right to freedom of thought and conscience in their discernment of the cases presenting and the Bill as drafted and amended to date, undermines and renders null their Oath, said the Chamber.
In September, the Malta Chamber of Pharmacists has also forwarded its submissions and amendments to the relevant organisations and institutions including the House of Representatives and the Pharmacy Council.
The Pharmacy Council urges authorities to delete article 32
In a separate statement, the Pharmacy Council said that it is gravely concerned about the Equality Bill as it has series implications on the pharmacy profession and has urged authorities to delete article 32 of the proposed legislation.
The Pharmacy Council said it is mostly concerned about the proposed articles 3 and 32, the Supremacy Articles, as these articles render the proposed legislation supreme over any other legislation, any future legislation, the Code of Ethics of the Pharmaceutical Profession and the Oath taken by pharmacists.
The Pharmacy Council, which is a legally recognised authority, said that the proposed law aimed to provide a legal framework to prevent any form of discrimination is in fact:
- Discriminating against pharmacists and other healthcare professionals
- Undermining their professional autonomy, moral convictions and moral integrity
- It does not include a conscientious objection clause
The council further explained that articles 7 and 8 contemplate placing pharmacists into a conflict of conscience in relation to their legal obligations to render a professional service which goes against their conscience.