Leading women’s rights activist Andrea Dibben warned this morning that Malta’s blanket ban on abortion is forcing women to resort to desperate and dangerous means to terminate their pregnancies.
“Women with enough money can easily book a flight to the UK, but women have also warned us about butcher-like clinics in Sicily,” Dibben, who chairs the Women’s Rights Foundation said on TVAM. “Many women go to Sicily with the assumption that they’ll be accessing a safe and legal abortion that is cheaper and closer than the UK, but in reality 90% of Sicilian doctors are conscientious objectors [to abortion] and these women often end up in dangerous and illegal situations.”
Dibben also warned that women often resort to buying abortion pills online, including from dodgy websites.
“Many of these websites ship pills from India and China and the women take them without even knowing what’s inside them,” she said. “If something goes wrong, they’ll be scared to visit a doctor because they might suffer the consequences.”
“Some women, in a state of utter desperation, also take more drastic measures by trying to self-induce abortions at home.”
Life Network counsellor Bernice Micallef
Dibben was on a panel with Bernice Micallef, a counsellor who works the pro-life group Life Network.
Micallef dismissed the argument that abortions are currently only accessible to the wealthy, arguing that flights from Malta to London can be found from as cheap as €18 and that pregnant women will still have to pay for abortion if it is legalised here.
“I feel that people will have less of a chance to conduct research in peace and understand the options on offer if we legalise abortion, because it will be the easiest thing in the world for them to just visit the closest clinic without reflecting on their situation.”
“I don’t think anyone argues that because we have a problem with naughty kids, we must decide to kill them, or because we have a problem with education, we must kick the teachers out of school. As far as I know, this country has always analysed problems and provided help, information and training in order to tackle the problem.”
“If 10% of pregnant Maltese women are deciding to have an abortion, then we must admit there exists a problem, but we cannot give them the tools render unborn babies voiceless. Those with more strength cannot decide on those with less strength.”
However, Dibben countered this argument by arguing that pregnant women will have more time to reflect on their situation if their minds aren’t occupied by issues such as flight costs and clinic choices.
The Abortion Support Network, a British charity, recently confirmed it plans to expand to Malta so as to provide financial, psychological and other help for women seeking to access safe abortions in the UK.