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  • Writer's pictureDoctors for Choice

Malta's government had turned down an opportunity to prevent the prosecution of women for abortion

After the news that a woman was prosecuted and convicted of having an abortion broke out, the Prime Minister Robert Abela stated he was feeling "uncomfortable" that this case happened, and that what they used to say would never happen had just happened. These words were echoed in a similar way by parliamentary secretary Rebecca Buttigieg.

So if the prosecution of a vulnerable woman for abortion is causing such discomfort within the government - and let's face it, it was always going to be a vulnerable women who would end up in this situation, because those who are well off and have people who can support them are able to travel to abortion clinics abroad, or at the very least would not be reported to the police if they did their abortion at home - then why did the government just two years ago turn down an opportunity to strike down the article of criminal law this woman was convicted of? In May 2021, then independent MP Marlene Farrugia moved a parliamentary bill that, were it enacted, would have removed the article in the Criminal Code that criminalises women for having an abortion, and this case would never have happened.

At that time, the government - also a labour government under the leadership of Robert Abela - decided not to allow further votes on Marlene Farrugia's bill and this bill was scrapped when parliament was dissolved for the general election in 2022. And here we are now, in 2023, when the article this bill aimed to remove caused the prosecution and condemnation of a woman in an abusive relationship, with a young child, with mental health issues, who was reported by her abuser who also physically assaulted her.

If the government does not want a repeat of this case, it needs to move a new decriminalisation bill and make right the historic mistake of not taking the opportunity to decriminalise abortion two years ago.


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