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  • Writer's pictureDoctors for Choice

Where do MEP Candidates James Ryder, Mina Tolu (for ADPD/Greens), and Arnold Cassola stand on reproductive rights?

Updated: May 23




During this MEP campaign we have sent out an electronic letter to all candidates that asks them to describe their position on sexual education, contraception, and the decriminalisation of abortion. The letter is published below, along with the responses of MEP candidates.



Our letter


Dear Maltese MEP Candidate,


As a constituent and a member of Doctors for Choice, I am writing to you ahead of the upcoming elections to inquire about your stance on the decriminalization of abortion. Our organization advocates for the rights and health of individuals who can become pregnant, recognizing that access to safe and legal abortion care is an essential component of comprehensive healthcare.


It is imperative that MEPs uphold their responsibility to protect the rights and well-being of all individuals, including those who require access to abortion services. Abortion care is healthcare, as acknowledged by international guidelines such as those set forth by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. Therefore, it is crucial that legislative measures align with these standards to ensure the safety and dignity of those seeking abortion services.


Additionally, I would like to emphasize the importance of promoting comprehensive sex education and ensuring free access to contraception for all individuals. Doctors for Choice advocates for policies that facilitate easy and cost-free access to contraception, as well as comprehensive sex education for people of all ages. These measures are fundamental to empowering individuals to make informed choices about their reproductive health and preventing unintended pregnancies.


In light of the above, I would appreciate hearing your views on the following questions:


1.⁠ ⁠What is your stance on the decriminalization of abortion?


2.⁠ ⁠How do you plan to ensure that individuals have access to safe and legal abortion care?


3.⁠ ⁠Are you willing to support and promote comprehensive sex education for all individuals?


4.⁠ ⁠What measures will you take to ensure free access to contraception for those who need it?


Your responses to these questions will help me and other voters make informed decisions in the upcoming elections. We believe that policies that prioritize reproductive rights, including access to abortion care, comprehensive sex education, and free contraception, are essential for promoting public health and gender equality.


Please note that Doctors for Choice intends to publish the responses received to this letter to ensure transparency and inform the public about candidates' positions on these critical issues. We will also make any lack of responses public on our website too.


Thank you for considering these important issues, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.


Sincerely,



Natalie Psaila


MD, MCFD, MRCGP (Int)


Doctors for Choice Malta



James Ryder, independent MEP candidate


Good afternoon Dr. Psaila, 


Thank you for reaching out regarding these issues. 

I have long been a supporter of your cause, and have even worked with the Women's Rights Foundation. 


To answer your questions, 

1.⁠ ⁠What is your stance on the decriminalization of abortion?

- I am in full support of it. We are long overdue when it comes to bodily autonomy, as well as women's access to healthcare for their own bodies. 


2.⁠ ⁠How do you plan to ensure that individuals have access to safe and legal abortion care?

- While this is not in my manifesto, I do aim to vote in favor of its legalization. 


3.⁠ ⁠Are you willing to support and promote comprehensive sex education for all individuals?

- Absolutely. With sky high rates on STDs, as well as teenage pregnancy, the long-used strategy of promoting abstinence has long been proven useless. 


4.⁠ ⁠What measures will you take to ensure free access to contraception for those who need it?

- While this is not something I've been working on, my stance is clear. If I were to be elected, I would use my position to advocate for the provision of free condoms on an EU-wide scale, and for legislation to support the stability of prices of emergency contraceptives (MAP)


Best regards

James



Mina Tolu, MEP candidate for ADPD (Greens)


Dear Natalie, 


Thank you for the questions, as candidates of ADPD we have chose to answer these questions together. These are therefore the answers of myself, Sandra, Rachelle, and Ralph. 


1.⁠ ⁠What is your stance on the decriminalization of abortion?

ADPD - The Green Party is in favour of the decriminalisation of abortion.


2.⁠ ⁠How do you plan to ensure that individuals have access to safe and legal abortion care?

As things currently stand, with health considered a national level competency, MEPs cannot ensure safe and legal abortion care in Malta. As we witness the Labour Government's inaction vis-a-vis the decriminalisation of abortion, we hope that Malta is spared the deaths and very serious incidents that have happened to women in other countries where abortion has been criminalised. ADPD currently has no seat in the Maltese Parliament, however we continue to fight for one through the constitutional court to represent the over 4000 people who voted for us in 2022. When we can finally claim our rightful seat in Parliament, the elected individual would present the position of the party on abortion, as presented in our 2022 manifesto.


3.⁠ ⁠Are you willing to support and promote comprehensive sex education for all individuals?

Yes, this is something that we all strongly support and believe in. Comprehensive sex education should be accessible to everyone, this means that it is also catered to different ages and is inclusive of diverse sexual orientations and genders. It is necessary to start educating youth and children on the notion of consent, and the importance of learning how to say 'no' to unwanted attention of physical or other nature at a young age. This could include learning how to say no to a hug from a friend or family member when the child does not feel like it!  As children grow up, content should be adjusted accordingly, so that they continue to learn how to openly communicate about relationships, their bodies, and eventually sex. Through learning age-appropriate and inclusive communication about relationships, bodies, and sex, we empower children and youth to seek consent, speak up when something happens, and live healthier lives.


4.⁠ ⁠What measures will you take to ensure free access to contraception for those who need it?

As ADPD we call for more decentralisation in Malta, this includes the decentralisation of local councils so that they are not caught up in endless bureaucratic disputes should they choose to set up local services to provide free access to contraception, for example.


Mina Jack Tolu


Treasurer


[Ralph Cassar, an MEP candidate for ADPD/Greens, told us his position is the same as Mina Tolu's above.]



Arnold Cassola, independent MEP candidate


Dear Dr Psaila,

Thank you for your kind email.


1.There are those who believe that a foetus is not a human life and therefore openly advocate a woman's right to abortion. My stance is different. I believe a foetus is a human life at its start and therefore it has to be protected. Of course, in those cases where the mother's life and health are in danger, priority is to be given to safeguarding the mother.

   

2. Sending people to jail in case of an abortion is certainly not acceptable.


3. I am most willing to support and promote comprehensive sex education for all individuals for the dissemination of all info on sexually transmitted diseases, in order to prevent them, as well as education  on contraceptive methods to preempt unwanted pregnancies.

 

4.⁠ ⁠State clinics specialised in advising on sexual health should be set up  in each of the 13 districts of Malta.


Kind Regards,

Arnold Cassola

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