Commissioner for Disabilities Samantha Pace Gasan has opened up about how she was told that getting pregnant could seriously damage her health.
“I have been wondering whether to go public about my personal experience or not for a while, but believe me when I say that I’m tired,” Pace Gasan said.
“I’m tired of the pain I feel with every assumption and disparaging comment that comes out of the mouths of politicians, academics, professionals, friends and relatives. I’m tired of fighting against myself to remain quiet in this discussion.”
Pace Gasan has already spoken up about how she suffered an aortic rupture in 2018 that required an emergency operation, and how she was later diagnosed with Marfan Syndrome, a genetic condition that affects connective tissues.
She now revealed that medical professionals also warned her that she could face serious risks if she ever gets pregnant. Last year, she sought further advice from a cardiologist, who told her that the risk of developing an aortic aneurysm during pregnancy is twice as high for people with Marfan Syndrome. Since Pace Gasan had already undergone two operations on her aorta, her risk was deemed to be even greater than that.
She said the cardiologist’s words shook her and kickstarted a period of anxiety and depression, and that she immediately decided not to intentionally get pregnant.
“I’m not ready to take such a risk with my life. I’m not ready to bear a baby that could lead to my death.”
Gynaecologists then confirmed to her that no contraceptive is 100% effective and suggested a number of invasive options, including the permanent birth control option of tubal ligation.
Pace Gasan concluded with a few words of advice and caution to the people of Malta about how to treat the ongoing abortion bill debate.
“Stop talking about women as though we’re little children who need others to take decisions for us,” she said. “It seems that if women have children, we are expected to take the lion’s share of the child-raising responsibility , but then we aren’t deemed responsible enough to take decisions on our own health and lives.”
“It isn’t enough to tell us to take precautions because no precaution is ever 100% safe, and unwanted pregnancies can still occur.”
“Many of you have your own opinions on the proposed amendment. While it is an opinion for you, it is an issue of life and death for me and other women who might require a pregnancy termination.”
“Be sensitive when speaking, because it could be that a relative, friend or colleague of yours might one day pass through a similar situation. Even if you disagree with the amendment, I’m sure that if someone close to you requires this health service, you will help them travel overseas to obtain it. Can you hear yourselves? We want rights, not charity.”
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