Precautionary principle

Lara Dimitrijevic should keep doing the good work she said she and the Women’s Rights Foundation (WRF) are doing regarding women’s equality and against domestic violence.

Although we are one of the few nations that still abhor the murder of innocent, voiceless unborn children through abortion, we are proud of our Maltese values and laws that protect the unborn from conception.

This has been the formal position of the three main political parties so far. The latter have taken part and made pro-life speeches in the celebrations of life on pro-life days organised by the Malta Unborn Child Movement during the past 11 years.

Bruno Mozzanega the Italian gynaecologist of world fame who was in Malta last month giving talks on the morning-after pill (MAP) said the “information provided by the World Health Organisation and the European Medical Agency on the morning-after pill is not correct”.

Mozzanega, who has written over 180 scientific papers on reproductive biology, insisted that the scientific data available on the contraceptive MAP proved it is abortifacient and women were being misinformed.

“If Maltese laws protect embryos and politicians decided to introduce the contraceptive without medical prescription they have been deceived by misinformation.”

Mozzanega called on women to stop believing blindly what was being posited by the World Health Organisation and the European Medicines Authority, insisting that if any scientist considered an expert insists that the morning-after pill is not abortifacient, then “the expert is deceiving”.

The authorities should have acted cautiously on MAP. Even the chairman of the local Medicines Authority said in a power point presentation in front of the parliamentary joint committee last July that MAP “may” not be abortifacient.

In this case the precautionary principle should have been applied. Unfortunately, the hasty introduction of MAP in Malta was a great, premeditated mistaken action camouflaged by the supposed consultation, especially in parliament, by the powers that be.

On May 24, 2016, this newspaper reported Minister for the Environment José Herrera saying that “Malta is to vote against the renewal of licences for a controversial herbicide glyphosate with potential links to cancer… In the absence of scientific consensus regarding glyphosate, Malta’s original position was to abstain and recommended the possibility of implementing more stringent conditions in the licensing regimes at a national level… The government has decided to further apply the precautionary principle and, therefore, Malta should vote against the renewal of such licences.”  Those were the words of a wise government minister.

So who bears the responsibility: the dispensing chemist? If MAP has abortive consequences, where will the buck stop? 

A woman has a right over her body but she also has a duty to be careful, wise and prudent in her sexual life. She has no right to dispose of her offspring murderously through abortion or through possible abortifacient pills like MAP.

Dimitrijevic, again, said nothing at all about the rights of the unborn child from conception as protected by Maltese laws.

Dimitrijevic should reflect on the article by Josie Muscat (January 16). To my knowledge Muscat is a colleague of Mark Brincat, mentioned by Dimitrijevic. He wrote that: “The simple stark reality remains that should the MAP alter the endometrial milieu and, therefore, prohibiting nidation, then we are actually introducing abortion by the backdoor.”

He further laments that “we have become a shattered society composed of individuals who do not relate to anyone or anything except their own perceived ‘needs’”. And he warns: “The stark reality is that no one has assumed responsibility for educating and informing those interested as to what are the consequences of taking MAP or who to hold responsible.”

By implication that means WRF has failed, so far, to offer these services. It also means the authorities concerned were not reminded by WRF, as WRF “had reminded them to introduce MAP”, of their grave responsibilities to provide much-needed counselling services to MAP users.

The Pro-Life Movement in Malta has been offering free counselling and material services to pregnant women in difficulties through the service HOPE for many years. And there are plans to enhance this service even further.

Muscat laments further: “The medical profession called for MAP by prescription. The Medicines Authority ignored this advice and ordered that MAP could be sold over the counter at the request of the public. No age limitation, no advice and, certainly, no information.”

So who bears the responsibility: the dispensing chemist?  If MAP has abortive consequences, where will the buck stop? Does Dimitrijevic feel the buck stops also somewhere near her and WRF? She has already claimed merit for the introduction of MAP in Malta.

In spite of saying that the “WRF has no position on abortion now”, we have just to wait until the debate on abortion really takes off to see what the position of the WRF will be. Indications are the debate will not take very long to begin.

When it starts we will have to see if, again, there are those neat coincidences that occur when a leading figure in the government who is leading the MAP and similar campaigns sticks to the word given lately, and the promised “more to come” measures start rolling in.

In fact the Times of Malta already reported (January 26) that “the Women’s Rights Group behind the morning-after pill campaign lately demanded a mature debate on reproductive rights and abortion in schools… The call was made after a lesson on abortion delivered by the pro-life lobby Life Network Foundation to fifth form students at the National Sports School some days before.”

When I read Dimitrijevic’s reply (January 31) to my article ‘Women’s Rights and Fetal Rights’ (January 28), I wondered whether time will tell and it would establish if I really knew and understood her thoughts, her plans and her intentions.

Let’s hope I was mistaken.

Tony Mifsud is coordinator, Malta Unborn Child Movement.

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