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2 NEWS maltatoday | WEDNESDAY • 30 NOVEMBER 2022 2 KURT SANSONE ROBERT Abela categorically ruled out a Cabinet reshuffle but failed to quash rumours Chris Fearne could be Malta's next European Commissioner in two years' time. The Prime Minister was asked point blank on TVM's Xtra on Monday night about rumours that his deputy would be gov- ernment's nomination for Eu- ropean commissioner in 2024. "In Chris Fearne I find a strong shoulder to lean on every day… he is an important cog in the health sector and has piloted big reforms. If that mo- ment arrives, which is some- thing I do not wish for, that he contemplates other things, one will take decisions at that time," Abela replied dryly. However, his answer seems to suggest there could be some truth in the rumours. The next European Commission will have to be nominated in 2024 after the European parliament elections that will be held in May that year. The rumours have been swirl- ing for quite some time with MaltaToday on Sunday report- ing that some ministers were already jockeying to be in place when the Labour Party deputy leadership opens up for con- tention. Satisfied with Cabinet Abela was also asked about the performance of his minis- ters and whether he was con- templating a reshuffle of sorts. "I exclude a reshuffle com- pletely. No reshuffle is being contemplated," the Prime Min- ister replied emphatically. He also showered praise on his Cabinet, insisting the pos- itive results were being recog- nised by foreign rating agen- cies. "I am satisfied with their work and where I feel their perfor- mance needs to improve we have a cordial head to head dis- cussion but everyone is pulling the same rope," Abela told his interviewer, Saviour Balzan. Abortion Abela said that since express- ing his categorical personal view against abortion almost three years ago, he met count- less women who underwent an abortion. "Three years ago, I had pro- nounced my personal opinion but after being exposed to the realities of women who under- went an abortion, today I also see the situation through the eyes of the circa 400 Maltese women every year who under- go abortion and remain stig- matised," the Prime Minister said. He added that the discussion on abortion should continue. "It has to be a meaningful dis- cussion in which we ask our- selves whether as a society as the State we should keep the laws as they are but close our eyes and ignore reality." But the Prime Minister insist- ed the amendment government has proposed to the Criminal Code, making it possible for women to undergo an abortion if their health or life is at risk, was not the introduction of abortion. He said the amendment would ensure that a mother suffering from medical complications during pregnancy that put her life in danger and health at grave risk would be offered the best care possible without fear of criminal action. Abela then referred to the Andrea Prudente case last summer, which sparked the process leading to the amend- ment. Prudente started miscar- rying while on holiday in Malta and despite doctors telling her the pregnancy was no longer viable would not carry out an abortion because the foetus still had a heartbeat. Prudente has sued the Mal- tese state, claiming her human rights were breached when she was put through unnecessary risk of contracting sepsis, a blood infection. "Ms Prudente was not in danger [of dying] but she was suffering from serious medical complications. The law should protect women and doctors if they intervene to safeguard health and life but I appeal to doctors to exercise medical discretion prudently," Abela said. Parliament started discussing the proposed amendment at Second Reading stage on Mon- day afternoon. Domestic violence Abela said that Bernice Cas- sar's murder showed that the system "failed at some point" despite the legal and opera- tional changes that have hap- Robert Abela rules out reshuffle Prime Minister Robert Abela discusses abortion and domestic violence but fails to quash rumours Fearne will move to Brussels "Three years ago, I had pronounced my personal opinion but after being exposed to the realities of women who underwent an abortion, today I also see the situation through the eyes of the circa 400 Maltese women every year who undergo abortion and remain stigmatised" "I exclude a reshuffle completely. No reshuffle is being contemplated," the Prime Minister replied emphatically

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