A box of abortion pills a day was discreetly shipped to women in Malta during the pandemic, according to Doctors For Choice co-founder Professor Isabel Stabile.
This would amount to over 150 packs of abortive pills in the time when commercial flights were grounded to combat COVID-19.
Interviewed on Lovin Daily, Prof. Stabile spoke about the latest public stunt in honour of International Safe Abortion Day, where she joined a handful of activists to swallow fake abortion pills in front of Parliament.
“We wanted to show how simple the procedure is in reality,” she said, adding that the majority of abortions are done via pills up until 12 weeks of pregnancy.
But abortion isn’t the only priority on the doctors’ list.
“Besides decriminalising abortion, we need contraceptive services that are widely and freely available and accessible. We need to change the way we provide sex education. These are the two pillars we must have to build an abortion legislation to meet the needs of as many women as possible.”
And while it remains a deeply taboo issue for the islands, Stabile mused about how far the pro-choice movement has flourished in just two years.
“It’s amazing how things have progressed, how many young people are engaging with the cause. In fact, Doctors for Choice’s followers are mostly young and in Malta,” she said, contrary to the belief that the abortion agenda is being pushed by external sources.
A recent publication by leading statistician Vincent Marmara did find that young people were the most likely to be in favour of abortion in Malta.
But the fight is not over. The pandemic exasperated an already urgent issue for those who need to terminate their pregnancies.
“The travel ban in lockdown was seriously problematic,” she warned. In fact, calls for help to UK-based charity surged during the pandemic. “The blanket ban on abortion already discriminated against certain groups of women. Those who cannot travel. Those who didn’t have visas. Those in abusive relationships.”
Despite it all, Stabile is hopeful about the future.
“I think we can achieve legislative change within my lifetime. The question is, do we have the political will to achieve it?”
“We need legislators to legislate. But they’re influenced by their constituents and this is why we need to work at grassroots level. If everyday people think and really believe that abortion is healthcare, that this is the safe way to do things, this will transpire to our politicians who will hopefully make a change,” she said.
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