Banning Abortion Harms Women's Health
Published in the Times of Malta on 06.08.2020
I generally enjoy reading my medical colleague, GP and good friend Anton Borg’s contributions to this paper (July 30), especially when he cites the use of evidence to drive medical decisions. I very much doubt he would therefore disagree with the evidence based recommendations of the Royal Colleges of General Practitioners, and of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
Both august bodies cite medical evidence for the health benefits of legally allowing pregnant women to choose to have an abortion, if needed, until a maximum of 23 weeks and six days. Both colleges have also taken clear positions in favour of the decriminalisation of abortion.
The reason is simple. Banning abortion harms women’s health. Criminalising women in Malta for reaching out to obtain abortions in any way they possibly can is even worse. Doctors cannot just pick and choose which evidence-based practices they recommend to their patients and which they do not. They may choose to become conscientious objectors, but in that case, their duty to their patients is to refer them to a doctor who is willing to follow evidence-based practice.
Unlike my good friend Anton who works in the UK, doctors in Malta are prohibited from offering the healthcare option of abortion to women who need it. This is the true meaning of anti-choice!
Alan Cooke has every right to express his delight at the fact that his taxes are not going to fund abortions (July 24), but I wonder if he is equally happy for his taxes to fund LifeNetwork, an organisation that fought against the right of women in Malta to access emergency contraception (the morning-after pill) as well as Maltese couples’ access to IVF with embryo freezing. Perhaps Cooke should take a look at where his taxes and mine are going by checking out LifeLine Malta’s website (a service of LifeNetwork) which encourages unproven and potentially dangerous “abortion reversal” that has no basis in evidence-based medicine. Then perhaps he can write back to this paper and tell us whether he is still happy for his taxes to be used in this way!
I strongly believe women in Malta should have access to unbiased information about all reproductive healthcare options available. This is why Doctors for Choice, in collaboration with the Women’s rights Foundation and Women for Women, have launched the Family Planning Advisory Service (fpasmalta.info). We will provide information such that women can make informed choices about their reproductive healthcare options. Unlike other “services” we will never try to influence a woman’s decision on abortion. We respect whatever decision women make and provide them with relevant information and support. We do this because women in Malta deserve better advisory services than what is currently provided by antichoice organisations.
By Prof Isabel Stabile