The Malta Independent 18 August 2017, Friday

Abortion: Maltese MEPs set to vote against pro-choice resolution

Malta Independent Monday, 21 October 2013, 12:30 Last update: about 4 years ago

Malta’s MEPs are set to vote against a report recommending that abortion should be accessible across the EU as “a human rights and public health concern,” with MEPs on both sides deeming such a recommendation to be unacceptable.

The report was drafted by Portuguese MEP Edite Estrela, who belongs to the Progressive Alliance of Socialists & Democrats Group Malta’s four Labour MEPs belong to. The EP’s Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee – which has no Maltese MEPs – has already adopted the report, and a vote in plenary is set to take place in Strasbourg tomorrow.

But while both the Labour Party and the Nationalist Party delegations are yet to formally establish their position on the report – such discussions generally take place shortly before the vote, to account for any last-minute negotiations – representatives of both delegations stressed that the report’s wording was unacceptable to them.

“We disagree,” Labour’s head of delegation Joseph Cuschieri told this newspaper on the framing of abortion as a human rights concern. “We believe in the human rights of the unborn child.”

“I can assure you that in plenary, I will be voting completely against the report,” PN MEP Roberta Metsola said, adding that there was no doubt that her colleague David Casa would do likewise. She pointed out that the report was not the first of its kind, and included many issues which PN MEPs had voted against in the past, particularly when it came to issues of reproductive health.

Dr Metsola recalled that when the report was discussed in committee, MEPs belonging to the European People’s Party – which the PN is affiliated to – had either voted against it or abstained from voting.

Fellow EPP MEP Anna Záborská, a vice-chair in the committee, had written a minority opinion in which she said that “all EU institutions, bodies and agencies must remain neutral on the issue of abortion,” among other matters.

The report’s author may be a political ally of the Labour Party, but in such cases, Mr Cuschieri insisted, Labour MEPs put principle and the national interest above their political group. He pointed out that his party’s position was to vote against resolutions favouring abortion, and as a result, all indications were that he and his colleagues will do so tomorrow.

The outcome of tomorrow’s vote remains to be seen, but in any case, the report is a non-binding resolution, which merely recommends changes in policy. Malta’s tough anti-abortion laws – it is the only EU member that theoretically prohibits even life-saving abortion – cannot be changed through EU imposition.

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