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Dr Jamie Grech: Facts about Abortion




Good morning, I am Dr Jamie Grech, and I am a doctor for choice. 

I am a doctor working and training in the field of paediatrics here in Malta. To mark the one year anniversary of the launch of Doctors for Choice Malta, I would like to touch upon some of the misconceptions that are widely held about abortion.

So where is this coming from? 

The current Maltese legal system states that causing a miscarriage is illegal under any circumstance. 

Here, ‘to cause a miscarriage’ means to carry out an abortion.

Women who try to or indeed carry out abortions, together with anyone that helps them, are liable to criminal consequences and a prison sentence. I want to emphasise this point – this is the current law under any circumstance. 

One misconception often talked about in the pro-choice/anti-choice conversation is what would happen when a mother’s life is at risk?

Now, I’ll not go into the medical details and decisions made here in Malta – this is not a medical lecture. What I will say, is that in circumstances where Mum’s life is endangered because of an ongoing pregnancy, it is the law that this pregnancy cannot be terminated. 

Some people talk about ethical principles such as the principle of double effect – this suggests a termination is justified when done to save Mum’s life. 

But this is not included in the Maltese criminal code, so any actions taken to end a pregnancy according to this principle are still illegal, and still condemn Mum and whoever else is involved to a prison sentence. Therefore, management of an ectopic pregnancy for example is illegal until the foetus has died on its own, and medications which could be used are also illegal and not readily accessible, as they cause foetal death.

I don’t think this is right.

Another misconception is that abortion is sometimes thought to be legal in Malta in the case of rape. As you can imagine, given my emphasis on this a moment ago, this too is illegal, and can result in prison time for the rape victim who attempts to carry out or indeed manages to perform an abortion. No choice is available to the victim.

I don’t think this is right.

It’s also worth noting, of course, that the same is true for minors – yes, children who are raped are also impacted by our out-dated legal system. A teen or pre-teen who has been raped cannot access termination of pregnancy services in our country. This forces children to continue pregnancies. Studies have shown that adolescent pregnancies are higher risk; and so, we are not only forcing a pregnancy on a child who is a victim of rape, but we are exposing these girls to a higher rate of potential complications. You have to ask yourself – if your loved one was raped and fell pregnant, do you think it’s right that the only choice she has is to continue this pregnancy, no matter what? 

I don’t think this is right.

I feel perhaps the largest misconception held is about what abortion actually is. The vast majority of abortions occur before 13 weeks rather than later, and are carried out using medicines that are swallowed rather than by operations or surgeries. This isn’t quite what you hear about.

There’s a great deal of misinformation out there, and when it comes to misleading people, I don’t think that’s right.

There’s so much to talk about, so much to discuss, that a short facebook video can’t even begin to scratch the surface of this. But that’s what we’re here for; Doctors for Choice will keep pushing for an open and fair discussion on abortion in Malta, and we will keep on standing up for sexual and reproductive health and rights. Thank you. 




By Dr Jamie Grech

jamie.grech@doctorsforchoice.mt


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Doctors for Choice (Malta)
PO BOX 15, University of Malta, Msida, Malta

Email: contact@doctorsforchoice.mt

Phone: +356 99316999

WhatsApp: +356 99652893

Doctors for Choice (Malta) is a registered voluntary organisation in Malta (VO/1816) and a Partner Organisation with Global Doctors for Choice (GDC).