The introduction of the morning-after pill in the Maltese pharmaceutical market is being presented as a pill similar to contraceptive pills already on the market and anti-campaigners are being told that they are creating a storm in a teacup. But this is only simplifying and misrepresenting the real issues in question.
MAP is being made to sound innocuous and promoted as the solution that will liberate women’s sexuality. Surely this is a seriously flawed argument: the right to freedom is not absolute and falls second if it hurts or abuses someone else.
I am more convinced into thinking that this ‘being liberal’ is becoming trendy and compelling us to behave like narcissistic teenagers, where appearing the coolest is what matters.
Why are we so quick to defend animal rights but easily falter in front of life at conception? Isn’t this a grave example of two weights and two measures? Or is it perhaps just simply a question of living in an age where defending animal rights has become more trendy than defending the embryo which by comparison is seen as passé and conservative?
Being invisible does not make it disposable. Shouldn’t we have arrived at an advanced conscious development of civilisation where values are not traded for mere superficialities?
Being liberal is becoming trendy and compelling us to behave like narcissistic teenagers, where appearing the coolest is what matters.
Another argument that is being used by the pro-MAP campaigners is that MAP is being introduced everywhere so why not Malta? How can this be a justification? How can this reasoning be seen superior to that of a teenager succumbing to peer pressure? I would like to think that the mature wise adult knows better. So rather than promoting further education and responsible adult sexual behaviour, Parliament is contemplating offering quick-fix solutions without a care for what is at stake, promoting reckless irresponsible attitudes and behaviours instead of adult responsible thinking and decision making.
Also, while definitions of the human embryo make it quite clear that “the development of a human begins with fertilisation, a process by which the spermatozoon from the male and the oocyte from the female unite to give rise to a new organism, the zygote” (Sadler, 1995) the public is being made to believe that it prevents pregnancy and that life at conception is less valuable or ‘less human’ than other forms.
Firstly it is important to know that in some countries it is marketed in this way, because pregnancy in these countries is defined as starting with implantation, conveniently ignoring scientific fact that in a zygote contains all that is needed for human life to develop.
Secondly, MAP acts in a number of ways, many of which are not abortifacient, i.e. acting before fertilisation for example by suppressing ovulation. But, somehow what seems to be ignored is also the scientific fact that MAP acts also by preventing implantation of a fertilised egg.
As a research quoted by the Malta Chamber of pharmacists states: “Studies have shown that it is not scientifically possible to exclude that the MAP does not preclude implantation of a fertilised ovum in the endometrium” (Trussell et. Al. 2016). So why is science being ignored and a wrong deceptive idea being given to the public and for what reason?
Also, I ask why is MAP being presented as the solution for the women who fall victim to unplanned pregnancies, but very few are speaking about more life-giving and just options: such as adoption? So many couples who face infertility issues would love to adopt and find it so hard to find children in need of adoption.
Yes, a similar abortifacient contraceptive already exists in the market: the coil. But mature adults know that two wrongs do not make a right and what is legal is not always right.
Finally MAP is being presented as something that can only benefit a woman’s well-being and her sexual freedom and rights. This can’t be further from the truth.
WHO research describes routine post-coital contraception as “unsuitable primarily because of the high incidence of cycle disturbances”.
Also, the adverse side effects of MAP are well-documented and include significant weight gain (on average 15 pounds), depression, ovarian cyst enlargement, gallbladder disease, high blood pressure, respiratory disorders, increased risk of ectopic pregnancy and death.
In some women, these serious adverse effects of levonorgestrel-type MAP could lead to further health risks for bulimia, anorexia, or clinical depression.
The Research Population Institute says: “Clearly, over-the-counter distribution of MAP would occasion misuse and overdose… The total number of women damaged by MAP throughout the developing world is untallied.”
And it concludes: “No doubt, the greatest risk of MAP is loss of human life. Packaging for MAP omits clear warnings of the risks and abortion-inducing function of the chemical.”
I’d like to call on the good reason of the public and the authorities to think through and decide wisely about the decision to introduce MAP, which is so far less innocuous than some would like it to appear.
I encourage the choice to promote adult ethical reasoning and decision making taking into account the true complex matters at stake and acting justly and with true wisdom of theheart when deciding on such import-ant matters.
Louisa Mifsud is a mother and a psychologist.