Maltese parliament approves controversial abortion amendment
In a second reading, the Maltese parliament has approved an amendment decriminalising abortion if the mother’s life is at stake. The controversial amendment will now be debated in a third and final reading.
Currently, the small EU-member state has one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the world, criminalising it in all circumstances. The current amendment will allow abortions when the mother’s life is at stake, allegedly freeing doctors from criminal investigation.
The bill passed with all 42 social democratic Labour MPs were voting in favour and 34 Christian democratic Nationalist MPs voting against. These two parties dominate Maltese politics. The bill will now go to a third reading, expected early next year.
Two Labour MPs received threatening and anonymous letters during Monday’s parliamentary sitting. This reports Malta Today. Parliamentary secretary Rebecca Buttigieg and MP Randolph De Battista notified the Speaker during the session and requested protection. The two MPs will be filing a report with the police on the matter.
The Labour government’s bill was the subject of heated debate in recent weeks, reports Malta Today. Even President George Vella recently made a brief reference to the current debate, breaking with presidential tradition not to intervene in ongoing parliamentary processes. According to insiders, he is willing to step down as President if he has to sign the new bill.
Despite many protests from the predominantly Roman Catholic electorate, the governing Labour Party decided to put the amendment up for a vote. An anti-abortion march in Valletta attracted thousands of people, including Nationalist Party politicians, members of the clergy, and other personalities like River of Love pastor Gordon Manche.
With the proposed amendment, abortion remains illegal in the country. However, according to Prime Minister Abela, with the amendment, doctors will now be protected legally.
However, according to the Roman Catholic clergy on the island, Maltese doctors already try to save mother and baby. “When they are not successful in saving both of them, they save the mother. Whenever this has happened over the years, legal problems were never created for the mothers or the doctors. There was no need for the law to be changed for the mother to be saved was she in danger of dying.”
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