In his article ‘Pro-choice Irish’ (May 30) Martin Scicluna said: “In an overwhelming and defining vote – which may hold lessons for Malta – Ireland has dropped its near-absolute ban on abortion following a referendum last Friday” implying, very clearly, that Malta should now follow Ireland and pass laws permitting abortion in Malta.
In fact he also said: “Only one corner of the European Union now forces women with unwanted pregnancies to travel abroad to obtain one.”
He finished his article “Melita contra mundum” which means: Malta against the world.
In another article, ‘Pro-choice on abortion’ (October 18, 2017), Scicluna said something very different: “My approach is, therefore, entirely pragmatic. Is there a burning need for abortion in Malta on practical or humanitarian grounds? The figures don’t appear to suggest there is”.
He continued: “While I can see that, as a matter of principle, the humanitarian and compassionate arguments to bring Malta into line with the laws of other advanced Western democracies is compelling, my own advice to policymakers – if I were asked for it – would be that this is overridingly a matter for Maltese women to decide.”
Let me go back to Scicluna’s Melita contra mundum, implying that Malta is now isolated. I see it differently. I see it as: Melita cum America – Malta is with America.
Very recently the US Supreme Court rejected a Planned Parenthood challenge to Arkansas pro-life law that could close two abortion clinics. Planned Parenthood is a very big provider of abortion services all over the world.
Recently, the World Health Assembly held its annual meeting in Geneva. A that event, the US delegation spoke up clearly and strongly in defence of unborn children and in opposition to abortion.
Commenting on a report on women’s, children’s, and adolescents’ health, the US called for improved healthcare, especially during the first 1,000 days of life, but rejected the report’s favourable statements toward abortion.
“The term ‘sexual and reproductive health’ does not include the promotion of abortion, nor do we recognise an international right to abortion,” the US statement read.
The statement further emphasised: “We have stated clearly, and on many occasions, consistent with the International Conference on Population and Development’s Programme of Action, that we do not recognise abortion as a method of family planning, nor do we support abortion in our reproductive health assistance.”
Earlier at the WHO Assembly the US criticised recent efforts by WHO to promote abortion through its Human Reproduction Programme. “We remind our fellow delegates,” the statement said, “that the International Conference on Population and Development forged international consensus that abortion should in no case be promoted as a method of family planning.”
It makes it appear that the Malta position on abortion, now, is closer to the Irish position
Melita contra mundum could have meant also that Malta, now, after the Irish referendum, is the only country in the world that, proudly, still protects early human life from conception especially if we go by what Minister Helena Dalli said at the UN General Assembly in Geneva in 2013.
The Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review on Malta said: “The [Maltese] delegation [led by Dalli] reiterated the [Malta] government’s belief in the need to protect the right to life, including that of the unborn child.
“It expressed the view that, as human life begins at conception, the termination of pregnancy through procedures of induced abortion at any stage of gestation, was an infringement of this right.”
The thing is that Dalli, and the government, in 2016 introduced the morning-after pill irrespective of the fact that many in the medical and pharmaceutical professions, locally and abroad, still consider it abortifacient.
This approach contradicts her “no abortion” statement in Geneva in 2013. It also makes it appear that the Malta position on abortion, now, is closer to the Irish position. But, paradoxically, the call is not by the people of Malta, as in Ireland with the referendum and Hungarian billionaire George Soros pumping millions of euros to the pro-abortion lobby in Ireland. It is a deliberate move by certain members of the government.
In fact the government is again giving the same impression at the moment with its proposed amendments to the Embryo Protection Act of 2012. While it says that the amendments are pro-life, it proceeds as if embryo freezing, proposed in the amendments, and the consequent thawing which invariably kills embryos in the process, is of no big concern to the government.
We still have to see what Health Minister Chris Fearne meant when he said (June 4) that: “Couples with frozen embryos would be granted an additional IVF cycle, free of charge, to encourage them to give birth to embryos and to give all embryos the chance to be brought to term.”
Dalli recently made a very big mistake when at a UN conference she said, brazenly, that the Maltese government had misled (fooled?) the Maltese people into believing many things when the Labour Party used the word “equality” in its 2013 electoral manifesto.
Which takes us back to the original question. Will the latest Irish referendum result affect Malta?
With these latest two instances by the government, yes abortion may, in the end, be introduced also in Malta. But not because the people want it. They have just declared themselves unequivocally against abortion by 97 per cent in the MaltaToday survey held a few weeks ago.
The possibility in Malta becomes real if only one person, not 70 per cent of the population, decides to introduce abortion in Malta by claiming, wrongly, that he has a political mandate to do so, when in fact he has nothing of the sort, as happened already with the amendments to the Embryo Protection Act lately.
In fact , former Labour minister George Vella, told The Malta Independent (May 28): “For those who are putting forwards the argument that they have a political mandate to fulfil, may I point out that the 2017 electoral manifesto of the Labour Party speaks only in the widest of terms on this matter, promising only to ‘widen’ and ‘extend’ this [IVF] service without including any details whatsoever.”
Scicluna may have good reason to be jubilant on the possible introduction of abortion in Malta in the present circumstances but only if “one person, out of 400,000 persons in Malta”, the prime minister, as I predicted in my article ‘Yes to entrenchment’ in this newspaper (June 18, 2005) will just decide to introduce it under one guise or another.
Hopefully by the time this may be arbitrarily tried our members of Parliament would have matured to a significant extent that having reached a conscientious position on the matter they would also have the moral and political courage to stand up to be counted, literally, in parliament.
Tony Mifsud, coordinator, Malta Unborn Child Movement.