After Ireland’s Abortion Referendum, Will Malta Be The Last EU Country To Resist A National Debate?

Only four other countries in the world ban the procedure entirely, and that short list includes the Vatican City

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Malta became the 25th country in the whole world to legalise gay marriage last July, making it a global example as far as pro-LGBT policies go. The situation is starkly different when it comes to abortion, as Malta is set to be the last European country to actively open a national debate on abortion.

This comes after the Irish government announced this morning that a referendum on abortion law reform is set to be held at the end of May. Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said that he will campaign for the reform, which would effectively repeal a 1983 constitutional amendment that bans terminations.

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"We cannot continue to export our problems," Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said of abortion

Abortion in Ireland is currently only allowed when a woman's life is at risk, but not in cases of rape, incest or fatal foetal abnormality. Malta, on the other hand, refuses abortions to women under any circumstances, even if it's to save her life. And we're on an increasingly short list.

191 of 196 countries in the whole world permit abortion to save a woman's life.

Three countries in Latin America - the Dominican Republic, El Salvador and Nicaragua - are as strict as Malta when it comes to abortion. If Ireland's referendum ends with the infamous Eighth Amendment being repealed, the only other European country apart from Malta which bans the procedure entirely would be none other than the Vatican City.

Women in Malta who terminate their pregnancies can face charges of up to three years in prison under the Criminal Code. Euro News had tried to get to the bottom of why abortion is such a taboo subject, speculating that it's because on the tiny island, "motherhood is a cult."

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Photo by Darrin Zammit Lupi / Reuters

Today's news was reminiscent of 2011, when Malta had voted in favour of divorce in a referendum. Back then, Malta was one of the only three countries in the world (along with the Philippines and the Vatican City - again) in which divorce was not permitted. 

This morning's news from Ireland has lead to some Maltese people pushing for a national debate to be finally opened on abortion. Facebook forums like the ever-popular The Salott were flooded with comments, and it quickly became clear why Malta's position on the matter is still unchanged. 

"Do you call that progressive?" one user asked, with another going on to say that "abortion is murder, however many referendums you hold." 

Many other users echoes the same sentiments, although some tried to combat the conservative wave and campaign for mature discussions. "What you forget is that in Malta we are morally superior to the rest of the world," one user sarcastically remarked. "All those doctors, lawyers, researches, politicians, and scientists all over the world that legalise abortion are all stupid. As long as it's 'our opinion', we can say whatever we like; facts, numbers and reality doesn't count!"

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What do you make of all this? Let us know in the comments below

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READ NEXT: I had an abortion. This is what it was like.

Written By

David Grech Urpani

Sarcastically ironic, Dave is a recovering hipster musician with a penchant for chicken, women's clothes and Kanye.