Malta's 19-Year-Old Euthanasia Campaigner Meets Civil Liberties Minister
"I want to be the voice for those who have lost their own."
Sam DeBattista, the 19-year-old who last month wrote an article calling for euthanasia to be introduced to Malta, yesterday held a meeting with Minister of Civil Liberties Helena Dalli.
Ms DeBattista was diagnosed with Huntington's disease two years ago. She describes the illness as a mixture of ALS, Alzheimer's and Parkinsons, which degenerates the nervous system until nothing is left. She says she deserves the right to die in Malta instead of having to fly to a place like Switzerland where euthanasia is legal.
"I was nervous about sharing my story because it never gets easier. This is my everyday reality and the more I think about it, the closer it gets. But doing so made it feel more meaningful. I want to be the voice for those who have lost their own," she told Lovin Malta after the meeting.
During the meeting with the Minister, Ms DeBattista spoke about her encounters with other people who have more severe symptoms from Huntington's and are now unable to talk.
"The Minister was extremely welcoming and open to hearing all about my experience and that was already more than I could have wished for," she said, adding that this was just the first step and she would continue doing all she could to help educate people about euthanasia and implement the necessary changes.
"I was nervous about sharing my story because it never gets easier. But I want to be the voice for those who have lost their own."
She said her aim was to educate people and have them walk a mile in the shoes of someone who knows what it is like to be given a life sentence.
"That is what Helena Dalli did. With an open mind and an open heart she understood the person behind the decision. I hope that others do so too," Ms DeBattista said.
Dr Dalli told Ms DeBattista that euthanasia was not included in the Labour Party's manifesto. However, the minister pointed out that the government was willing to listen to the human experiences of people like her and Joe Magro, an ALS sufferer who has already told his story to MPs of the Parliament's Family Affairs Committee.
"When you hear these experiences, you can't ignore them," she said.
Helena Dalli, who is also responsible for Social Dialogue, has already implemented major changes in Maltese legislation including civil unions and adoptions for gay couples as well as strengthening laws on gender identity.