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  • Writer's pictureDoctors for Choice

Summary: Position Paper on Abortion

Don't have time to read the whole paper? Here are 10 summary points.

Authors of the position paper: Dr Christopher Barbara (Psychiatry), Dr Gilbert Gravino (Clinical Radiology), Dr Jamie Grech (Paediatric Medicine), Dr Natalie Psaila (General Practice), Dr Elena Saliba (Paediatric Medicine), Professor Isabel Stabile (Obstetrics and Gynaecology).

1. “Abortion care is healthcare.” This is the position of our organisation, as well as that of the highest medical institutions worldwide, including include the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics (FIGO), the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), and the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP).

2. Malta’s Criminal Code prohibits abortion in all circumstances. This was deemed to be “not in line with international human rights standards and regional best practices” by the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights in 2017. This absolute ban on abortion is not found in any other EU member state.

3. The complete ban on abortion impacts the work of doctors in Malta in many ways. It has negative implications on the doctor-patient relationship, the advice doctors give to pregnant women, and on the care given to women who have had an abortion.

4. The complete ban on abortion is a risk to women’s lives. Although the principle of double effect is often cited as a loophole that is used by doctors in Malta to save a pregnant woman’s life, this principle has several pitfalls and lacks a clear legal framework and policy guidance. The case of Savita Halappanavar in Ireland is a clear example of how relying on the principle of double effect can cost women their lives. The law in Malta should change to clearly allow the absolute protection of women’s lives.

5. As shown by observational scientific studies, denying women an abortion on request has negative reperussions on their physical health, mental health, and social situation.

6. The abortion ban in Malta does not stop abortions, it only makes them less safe. Women in Malta have abortions by travelling abroad or taking illegal abortive pills in Malta. These women may need post-abortion care in Malta if they develop complications, and the abortion ban hampers these women from seeking timely medical help and being honest with their doctors.

7. The abortion ban is a risk to girls’ lives, who are more likely to suffer complications from pregnancy than adult women. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child makes it clear that children have a right to access safe abortion and postabortion care services. The UN’s OHCHR comments on the right to life specifically condemn the criminalisation of abortion.

8. The aims of Doctors for Choice (Malta) are advocacy for comprehensive sexual education, the provision of affordable contraception, the decriminalisation of abortion as advised by international medical institutions including the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), and the legalisation of abortion in Malta through healthcare policy.

9. Abortion is a very safe procedure, with statistically lower rates of morbidity and mortality than childbirth. Claims that abortion harms women’s mental health are also not founded on any scientific evidence.

10. Due to the lack of abortion services, Malta’s medical authorities are falling short of best practice and the highest standards recommended by international guidelines which are based on evidence-based medicine.

To read the whole paper click here.


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