Can abortion ever be legalised in Malta?

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The only time abortion takes place in Malta is when it’s de facto; to save the mother’s life. Other than that, the practice is completely illegal.

Just like Malta, Ireland is mainly a Catholic state however, on the 25th of May 2018 a referendum passed to remove the constitutional ban on abortion. Around 66.4% of Irish people voted for the Eight Amendment to be removed and be replaced with: “Provision may be made by law for the regulation of termination of pregnancy”. This was signed into law in September 18th 2018.

How does all of this relate to Malta? Just like Ireland prior to the referendum, Malta has strict laws when it comes to abortion and anyone who partakes in such an activity will be convicted and possibly sentenced to 18 months to three years imprisonment. This should stop anyone who might even consider abortion as a possibility. Yet, recent research shows that around 300 to 400 Maltese women have abortions outside the country every year. This migration mostly happens to the UK (60%), but other countries in Europe like Italy, Germany and Belgium, have become more popular as well. This means Maltese women are having abortions about as often as the EU average citizen even though Malta remains to be the only EU country than bans it.

Tonio Borg, former Deputy Prime Minister and European Commissioner, and politicians with the same mind set have been doing everything in their power to completely ban abortion in Malta. However, in late 2016, Malta was introduced to the morning-after pill which caused a conundrum around the islands. This wasn’t something many people were asking for, mainly because abortion is still such a taboo subject in Malta. However, this most probably was used as means for the government to test the waters and see what Maltese people’s thoughts on abortion are.

If even a profoundly Catholic state like Ireland has shown that change is possible, could change be heading towards Malta as well?

Written by

Annalise Xerri

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