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‘This Is Heartless and Disgusting’: Here’s How Maltese People Have Reacted To Bernard Grech’s Anti-Abortion Interview

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Opposition Leader Bernard Grech’s fervorous statement against abortion has been met with equally as passionate responses criticising the politician and his declaration.

“It’s 2021, it’s a global human right. It’s not a political issue, it’s a medical one. Absolutely atrocious mentality,” said one commenter on Lovin Malta’s post reporting his opinion.

From NGOs, to female activists, to single commenters – Maltese women and men have spoken out against Grech and they’ve established a newfound distrust in the PN leader. Many have even gone as far as to say that the party has lost their vote.

In fact, very prominent Maltese activist organisations and NGOs have commented on Grech’s outright denial of people in favour of abortion representing or forming part of the Nationalist party.

Without further ado, here are the reactions:

1. Doctors for Choice

Doctors for Choice is a non-governmental organisation and it shared four posts on the matter, three of them being written by the group itself.

“After the statements we just heard from Bernard Grech can we honestly believe the Partit Nazzjonalista will follow through on its promise to provide free contraception and morning after pills? No. No we can’t,” the NGO said in a Facebook post.

In another statement, Doctors for Choice expressed concerns over Grech’s intentions.

“We are extremely concerned by this statement. Abortion is happening in Malta. Women are ordering and using abortion pills. Is Bernard Grech proposing cracking down on these women and having them prosecuted?,” it said.

“This stance on vulnerable women who seek abortions is disgusting, heartless, and a clear example of favouring populism over protecting minorities,” it continued.

A third post said that with this argument, pro-choice people should return the favour and not vote for the opposition.

“Solidarity with all those within PN who care about women and their rights who are being thrown under a bus.”

2. Women’s Rights Foundation

The Women’s Rights Foundation also had something to say about Grech’s radio interview.

Firstly, it quoted the words of a COE Human Rights commissioner who said that access to safe and legal abortion care is an obligation of the state. This is expected as a guarantee of respect of women’s right to “freedom of torture and inhumane or degrading treatment”.

“Sadly, this is what women in Malta are lumped with: One of our main political parties is ‘open to discussion, but don’t make it political’ while the other is quite clearly ready to stomp over women’s lives and bodies for political gains,” the organisation said.

“In the meantime, upwards of 400 women and girls in Malta either criminalise themselves by taking abortion pills at home or must travel abroad to get the health services that the state is duty bound to provide,” it continued.

3. Pia Micallef

Maltese activist and equality policy advisor at the European Parliament, Pia Micallef, also spoke out about Grech’s remarks.

Rather than simply pointing out everything that was wrong with his conservative speech, Micallef noted the strategic way in which the PN has been using reproductive rights to appeal to both sides of the debate and treat it as a “pre-election issue”.

“The PN is picking their words carefully to pander to both sides, and in the hopes of getting a rise out of the PL. If this wasn’t the case, campaign funds would not have been spent on advertising relating to PN pro-choice candidates this week,” Micallef said.

“The PN wants a quick, imminent and uninformed debate, that will ensure themselves a seat in power and that the legal basis for the criminalisation of reproductive services is secured,” she continued

“Pro-choice friends, please don’t let this “we are only anti-abortion” narrative make you believe in hope. Hope can never be found behind closed doors,” she powerfully and quite accurately concluded.

 

4. Lovin Malta commenters

Now here’s a list of Lovin Malta commenters who didn’t take too kindly to the party leader’s comments either:

“Thank you for confirming that anyone who cares about women’s rights should not vote for your party,” said one person.

“Seals the deal for me then, no vote for your party from me,” said another.

“And that is exactly why the PN have once again thrown themselves into the history bin. A culture of dinosaurs. How can we ever hope to move forward on this little island?… if it’s not rampant corruption, it’s this… how demoralising,” said another commenter who quite frankly hit the nail on the head.

“I guess my vote will be shredded this time, better safe than sorry,” said another.

Similarly, this person said “while I’m not a party member, I always admired the PN because I thought that it gave the most room for debate. This is obviously not so anymore. There goes my vote too.”

“Well that’s a no from me. Bye bye,” someone swiftly commented.

On the other hand, one commenter expressed that although they might not agree with abortion, “people have the right for their views and cannot be shut up in such a way.”

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These reactions are a reflection of only a few people on the island, in fact, there are many who saw his interview and consolidated their decision to vote for the Nationalist Party.

However, when voting, whether you agree or disagree with abortion – keep in mind that no one can regulate the opinions of their members. Many PN affiliates are in fact pro-choice or in favour of abortion and there’s not really much he can do about that – unless they are extremely vocal about it.

Therefore, his statement seems to be simply for the theatrics of it, not the practicality. There will always be members who are in favour of abortion.

What was your reaction to this?

READ NEXT: WATCH: I Can Assure You, Labour Voters Still Support Me, Konrad Mizzi Tells MPs In Another Heated PAC Meeting 

Ana’s a university student who loves a heated debate, she’s very passionate about humanitarian issues and justice. In her free time you’ll probably catch her binge watching way too many TV shows or thinking about her next meal.

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