Why this story matters:
According to surveys, Maltese society supports the status quo.
However, Malta has precedents when it comes to accepting issues that were historically banned. Divorce, same-sex marriage and finally in vitro fertilization (IVF) have all come to be tolerated.
The Mediterranean archipelago rarely receives coverage on abortion-related issues compared to Poland or Ireland, which will put the question to a referendum in May. But abortion rights advocates throughout Europe and the world should remember to cover the Maltese issue as well. Here too, there is hope for change.
Details from the story:
- Maltese laws that ban inducing or assisting a miscarriage date back to the 19th century.
- Abortion is criminalized even when the mother's life is in danger, when the fetus has low chances of surviving, or when the pregnancy results from rape or incest.
- El Salvador, the Vatican, Chile, the Dominican Republic, and Nicaragua also have blanket abortion bans.
- This March, the Women's Rights Foundation NGO published a position paper arguing for legalizing abortion in Malta under the three exceptions listed above. Foundation activists received death threats after the paper was published.
- Prime Minister Joseph Muscat reaffirmed his anti-abortion stance in a recent speech, but some members of the ruling Labour Party have expressed openness to discuss the issue.
- A recent article in Malta Today showed that some gynecologists face the dilemma of consulting women who want to travel abroad or order abortive pills online to end their pregnancies.