Labour MEP Alfred Sant has called for a debate on abortion just days after abstaining from a vote on an EU resolution of women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights, which declared abortion to be a human right.
Cyrus Engerer was the only Maltese MEP to vote in favour of the report drawn up by Croatian MEP Predrag Fred Matic.
Meanwhile, Sant and his Labour colleague Josianne Cutajar chose to abstain from the vote altogether while PN MEPs Roberta Metsola and David Casa voted against it.
Both Cutajar and Sant provided explanations for their decisions, however Sant’s reasoning seems slightly contradictory.
Sant said that “projecting people who are in favour of abortion as heartless or amoral makes no sense and is hypocritical.”
“The debate should respect prevalent cultural and behavioural norms but not let them override inalienable rights,” he continued.
However, Sant explained that despite his pro-choice sentiments, he abstained on the final vote because the “EU should have little to say in such matters”.
He believes that such a debate should be carried out on a national basis.
Yet, by abstaining and essentially removing himself from the equation, he is wasting his opportunity, as an influential person, to instigate this conversation in a domestic context.
Meanwhile, despite his statement saying that the rights to bodily integrity and autonomous decision-making are “inalienable”, he still chose not to contribute to a decision that aims to legitimise these healthcare rights because he’d rather have them up for national debate.
Sant continued to say that since the island was able to implement radical changes in favour of LGTBQ rights without EU pressures, the same should be done with abortion. Even though these are two separate issues with different public opinions.
He concluded by welcoming the other elements presented in the report that aim to protect and prioritise women’s health and rights by calling for universal access to Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights and aim to utilise more efficient services, technologies, and health products for women.
This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.
What do you think of Alfred Sant’s remarks?