The Labour Party could include the decriminalisation of abortion in its electoral manifesto, but only after a national public consultation on the matter has been carried out.
The party was this morning reported to be planning to announce a national consultation process on the subject, following a surprise proposal by former Labour MP Marlene Farrugia.
The now-independent MP on Wednesday tabled a Bill in Parliament which, if passed into law, would see provisions criminalising abortion removed from the Criminal Code.
Party insiders who spoke to the Times of Malta said that while Labour’s parliamentary group has decided not to support Farrugia’s Bill, the party is likely to launch a national consultation process in order to gauge support and possibly come up with its own proposals.
The outcome of this process would then inform whether or not the issue is included in the party’s electoral manifesto for the upcoming election, which could happen as late as June next year – though it is largely expected to come sooner than that.
While this means that the decriminalisation of abortion will likely not be debated by Parliament this year, it would appear that the Labour Party is willing to discuss the issue.
The Nationalist Party has on the other hand closed the door to debating the subject, with party leader Bernard Grech announcing immediately after the draft legislation had been tabled, that the PN would never be in favour of such a move.
A 2020 survey gauging support for abortion in Malta found that just 5.2% were in favour of unrestricted access to abortion during the first three months of pregnancy. Opposition to the procedure however falls when qualifying circumstances are included in the question.
In fact, the number falls to 78.5% in cases of rape, 64.9% in cases where the child will be born with a severe disability and even further to 45.5% in instances where the mother’s life is in danger.
The fact that what has been proposed in this case is the decriminalisation, and not making the procedure available in Malta, as gauged by the survey, suggesting that the opposition to decriminalisation likely runs lower.
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