Maltese resist liberation of abortion law


Southern Europe

Lennart Nijenhuis,

Prime Minister of the Republic of Malta Robert Abela. Photo EPA, Peter Foley

The Maltese government is considering a possible liberation of the abortion law. A group of experts now resists.

Until now, Malta was the only EU member with a total ban on abortion. Recently, the health minister announced a bill that would open the possibility of terminating a pregnancy in situations related to the woman's health. At the same time, the minister stressed that abortion would remain illegal and that the amendment only decriminalises people when a foetus dies due to medical intervention.

However, experts under more in the fields of science, ethics and law argue in a statement that the amendment would open the door to abortion. That is reported by Independent. Their argument is that the government does not only speak about situations in which a woman's life is at risk but also added the phrase "or her health is in grave jeopardy." According to the definition of health by the World Health Organisation, that also includes a woman's mental health.

"Therefore, the amendment also allows the termination of a pregnancy in cases of mental health conditions. This means that abortion will be allowed if a woman is going through serious mental conditions, none of which should ever justify the sacrifice of a baby's life", the statement reads.

The experts offer an alternative amendment instead: "No crime is committed under Article 241 (2) or Article 243 [from the Maltese criminal code, ed.] when the death or bodily harm of an unborn child results from the medical intervention conducted with the aim of saving the life of the mother where there is a real and substantial risk of loss of the mother's life from a physical illness."

Furthermore, the academics promised to publish a paper that outlines the reasoning behind their proposal.

The Maltese Parliament looked at the abortion amendments on Monday. Currently, terminating a pregnancy is illegal in all circumstances. The medical specialist and the mother can face jail terms if they violate this ban.



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