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‘When I Read That Statement, My Heart Dropped’: Here Is What A Maltese Woman Who Had An Abortion Thinks About Bernard Grech’s Interview

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Sarah*, a 19-year-old Maltese woman who had an abortion, has opened up about what she thinks about Opposition Leader Bernard Grech’s anti-abortion declaration… and then retraction.

“When I read the statement on the news, my heart dropped. It filled me with unnecessary shame which then turned into frustration,” Sarah told Lovin Malta.

In case you haven’t yet heard, Grech said that the Nationalist party was not only against abortion, but would ensure no one in favour of the medical practice will ever form part of or represent the party.

After extreme backlash, he obviously backtracked and ‘clarified’ his statement. He explained that freedom of thought is “sacrosanct” and that anyone can join the PN regardless of their beliefs.

He further clarified that what he meant from his previous statement was that “nobody will be allowed to campaign for abortion legislation under the PN ticket”.

What he meant was seemingly quite different to what he said, and as a result, his words of reparation were of no difference to the many people that he offended, including Sarah.

“I don’t understand why as a young woman who has had to make an extremely difficult life choice and endure a traumatising experience, I need to be constantly put down by my own country,” she explained.

Meanwhile, she said that his retraction was just a “phony comeback trying to win the favours of what is believed as the majority in Malta – anti-choice people.”

“It was shameful and disgusting and I will never again consider voting for nationalists in the near future, especially when someone like that spoke on their behalf and is now limiting the open mindedness of the PN candidates,” Sarah said.

Prior to this, Sarah had supported the party for years and was seriously considering giving them her vote.

“But now there’s no way that I’d trust my vote with them after being insulted and treated like a criminal,” she frustratedly exclaimed.

Malta notoriously upholds a complete blanket-ban on abortion that has been described as the “strictest anti-abortion law in the world”. The island is also the only country in the EU to entirely prohibit this service.

Women or trans-men who receive abortions can face up to three years in prison, while doctors who help them access the healthcare can be charged with a maximum of four years in jail and a permanent revocation of their license.

“In almost all other civilised countries women are helped and cared for. Instead, here in Malta, we are left to fend for ourselves in fear while risking huge consequences and social upheaval towards our reputation as women,” Sarah said.

“You’d think that as a country, we’d be trying to move forward and get better, but instead our government wants to build an underground metro while women fear for their lives alone with their backs against a wall when a difficult situation arises,” she continued.

“Don’t these male politicians have wives or daughters? They have mothers, that’s for sure. Why are we so irrelevant then? Why are we so neglected?”

Despite her anger at the current system, Sarah expressed extreme gratitude to organisations like Doctors For Choice, whom she often donates to, and FPAS.

“They’re the ones who do the real work and support, I wish that they’d be seen with more importance and that the government will finally listen to them.”

Sarah isn’t the only person holding on to these frustrations. Several women and people around Malta have been disappointed by Grech’s blunt statement that decided the party’s fate in the eyes of many floaters.

Unwanted pregnancies, abortions and pro-choice politicians are a reality. When is the government and the opposition going to treat them as such? When are they going to stop being afraid of the public reaction and finally stand up for women and trans-men who have a right to this healthcare?

What do you think about this?

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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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