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Malta rejects legalised abortion in 'win for life' for mothers and babies

Image credit: Life Network Foundation Malta

Malta’s government has backed down on a bill which would have legalised abortion in the strongly pro-life country, instead opting for an amendment to clarify that interventions can take place when a mother’s life is in danger.

Pro-life organisations celebrated the news, with local campaigners telling Gript it was a “win for Life, for mothers and babies”.

The Coalition in favour of Life said it had successfully worked to urge the government to revise a proposed amendment which originally sought to legalise abortion on health grounds which pro-lifers said could be interpreted too widely.

Reuters reported that

Malta is the only country in the European Union which does not allow any form of termination, and the original bill had raised a storm of protest, with anti-abortion campaigners saying the definition of what constituted a health risk was too wide.

Local media had reported that the country’s president, George Vella, had told the government he would resign rather than sign the bill as originally drafted into law.

The reports were never denied and Vella had made his disquiet publicly known, repeatedly appealing for a revision of the text.

Health Minister Chris Fearne said on Friday that the bill was being amended so that termination could only take place in a situation where a mother’s life was in danger, once all other possible treatment had been exhausted.

That procedure must be agreed by three doctors and may only take place in a licensed clinic.

At present, a doctor is liable to up to four years in jail if he terminates a pregnancy to save the mother’s life.

“Following the publication of the Government’s revised version of the amendment to the Criminal Code relating to pregnant mothers and unborn babies that find themselves in life threatening difficulties, the Coalition Inti Tista’ Ssalvani has worked with judges, doctors, lawyers and ethicists to analyse the new draft amendment put forward by Government and come out with its position,” the Coalition in favour of Life said in a statement

“The coalition acknowledges that the Government’s redrafting of the amendment was a direct result of the over 25,000 people who emailed the Prime Minister, Minister of Health, and the MPs of their District, the more than 20,000 people who demonstrated in Valletta and the many individuals that expressed their concerns publicly on social media or privately with their MPs – sending a clear message that the original draft of the law would have introduced abortion to Malta, and this was not acceptable to the people of Malta.”

“The Coalition concludes that the amendment as now proposed does not introduce abortion to Malta but will codify the existing life-saving practices currently being applied in Malta, and provide further safeguards for mothers, unborn babies, and doctors,” the pro-life group said.

“The Coalition thanks also His Excellency The President of Malta Dr George Vella MD, for his strong defense of life and his appeal and efforts for further dialogue that have not gone unheeded.”

Dr Miriam Sciberras, CEO of Life Network Foundation said:

“The voice of the people of Malta has been very clear: we are a pro-life nation, valuing every life, the mother that deserves our utmost protection especially when in difficulty, the unborn child that today we have saved, thanks to this new version of the legislation, we will continue to do this”.

“This new version of the amendment is a great relief to all of us, so we can get back to our primary work of helping mothers in crisis situation, with rebuilding their lives and caring for their children”

This piece was first published on Gript

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