Nationalist Party MEP Roberta Metsola has defended her vote against a report which declared abortion to be a human right, insisting that its contents did not respect Malta’s right to decide for itself on the issue.
Last week, the European Parliament voted on whether or not to adopt the controversial report authored by the parliament’s rapporteur on sexual and reproductive health and rights, MEP Predrag Matic.
The report was a wide-ranging one that touched upon various aspects of sexual and reproductive health, including abortion, which it describes as a human right.
It urges all member states to provide access to high-quality sexual and reproductive healthcare.
The report was approved by 378 votes in favour and 255 against. Labour MEP Cyrus Engerer was the only Maltese MEP to have voted in favour of the report in its entirety, while his colleagues Alfred Sant and Josianne Cutajar both abstained.
Labour MEP Alex Agius Saliba as well as Nationalist MEPs Roberta Metsola and David Casa both voted against.
In light of the vote, and readers’ surprise at Metsola’s vote, Lovin Malta reached out to the MEP for an explanation.
“These reports come before MEPs from time to time and the PN’s position has always been made clear, and our delegation’s voting record reflects this,” Metsola started by saying.
She immediately pointed to Malta’s so-called abortion protocol, which was negotiated before its entry into the EU and which is annexed to the country’s accession treaty.
The annex specifies that it is Malta’s national Parliament that has the power to amend legislation regulating abortion and not the treaties of the European Union or any other law passed on a European level.
“Without the approval of our national Parliament, the EU institutions cannot impose any legislation on Malta in this area,” Metsola said.
She added that there were sections of the Matic report that dealt with issues such as women’s health, trans rights and sexual health “which [the PN] delegation supported and voted in favour of”.
“However the report did not respect Malta’s right to legislate itself on this issue and therefore I could not support the final version of it,” Metsola said.
“We would be wrong to give anyone the impression that the European Parliament or MEPs have any power or competence to legislate on this matter. This is only the prerogative of Malta’s national parliament. This is a right that belongs to our Parliament and a right that I respect.”
Last month, independent MP Marlene Farrugia tabled a private member’s bill in Parliament which proposes the decriminalisation of the medical procedure but which stops short of making it legal.
Both Labour and the PN have shot down the bill, though the Labour Party has suggested that it would like to embark on its own national consultation and to encourage debate on the issue in order to plot the way forward for the country.
A MaltaToday survey carried out some three weeks after Farrugia tabled her bill found that roughly 66% of respondents were against the decriminalisation of abortion, with 18% in favour and 15% uncertain.
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.
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