A bill calling for the decriminalisation of abortion in Malta has been presented to parliament by MP Marlene Farrugia.
“No person should be discriminating from medicine,” she said.
She said that the bill must ensure that no one is criminalised for health-related choices, including members of the medical profession.
“I think we agree that all lives must be protected and given all the support necessary to reach its full potential,” she said. “Protection of life doesn’t happen by threatening women or by denying women control over their body.”
She stressed that safeguarding life meant creating a society where women live free from discrimination and where they can life safely and with access to healthcare.
The bill is a private member’s bill and will need the backing of the government and opposition if it should become law. It could create a chasm inside both parties with many in their ranks reluctant to make their pro-choice positions public.
It calls for an amendment to Malta’s criminal code.
Malta is one of the last countries on the planet with a blanket ban on abortion. It should be made clear that decriminalisation does not mean legalisation. Currently, abortion is a criminal offence and people who either receive, procure, or conduct the medical procedure are subject to jail time. A person could be sentenced from 18 months to three years in prison
Three women have been charged over receiving an abortion since 2000. And while the issue is still considered taboo, the debate has geared up in the last two years.
Figures show that many women in Malta still receive abortions despite the ban. Recent statistics show that at least 227 abortion pill kits were sent to women in Malta during the pandemic.
Malta’s medical community has found a way around the laws, employing a double effect principle. However, the issue reared its head once again when a woman with an ectopic pregnancy was delayed treatment despite her potentially fatal condition.
Despite the ban, Malta’s sexual health policy is considered to be worryingly outdated, with promised reforms failing to take hold. Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne has promised a strategy by the end of this year.
Do you agree with the proposal?