The Malta Independent 15 June 2021, Tuesday

Marlene’s Pandora Box

Noel Grima Sunday, 16 May 2021, 08:29 Last update: about 1 month ago

I think I can compare Marlene Farrugia’s legislative proposal to a similar initiative by Jeffrey Pullicino Orland some years ago regarding, then, divorce.

The two parties, engaged in their normal, perennial struggle, had fought each other to a stalemate. But they could not bring themselves to come up with a legislative proposal to put divorce on the statute book.

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Enter JPO, then still a PN MP, who to everyone’s surprise, and without informing his party leader, went ahead and tabled the divorce motion.

We know how it ended – after all sorts of debates, and also a referendum, divorce was approved and is now on the statute book.

Maybe Dr Farrugia reasoned someone should break up the legislative stasis this time on abortion. That let the cat among the pigeons. We have now been subjected to all sorts of declarations, statements, arguments et al on the subject.

Certain clarifications are in order.

This is now a parliamentary motion. The House will have to take a stand.

What the motion proposes is not to permit abortions, or decide under what circumstances an abortion can be permitted, or establish the timeline when an abortion can be done. It proposes that abortion be not punished by law – the decriminalisation of abortion. The distinction is rather trite, I admit.

Now as far as I know, no woman has ever been sent to jail for having had an abortion. But the law is there and it still says abortion is a crime, punishable by law.

We all know that, while illegal in Malta, abortion is available next door in Sicily and in the UK, for those who can pay. In practice, therefore, it is only the poor, the disadvantaged, who do not have the money to go abroad. And Parliament is there to defend the weak and the poor.

But this is it: the baby in the womb, the foetus, is both weak and poor and so should be defended by Parliament. If Parliament wants to defend the weak and the poor mothers-to-be it cannot be allowed to do so at the expense of the weak and the poor babies in the womb.

This should be clear to all those who try to be objective. Abortion is a terrible procedure which mangles and kills the not-yet-formed bodies in the womb. Except for those who consider the baby in the womb an unwelcome intruder in the woman’s body, most admit that the decision to go for an abortion is a traumatic decision carrying guilt repercussions for a long time.

The community, the country, should come up with help for the women who find themselves in this predicament and, if possible, help them without at the same time killing the babies.

To tell them that killing their babies is not a punishable crime dilutes the horror that a normal human being, with a clear and untampered mind, reacts to the abortion procedure.

Humanity has an infinity of ways of losing track of the obvious and the abortion debate comes up with so many prize examples – from hardship, to rape and anything in between – to justify abortion.

If we look at other countries we can see the abortion debate getting more strident and bitter, from both sides to be sure. This is what we can now expect, thanks to Dr Farrugia’s Pandora Box initiative.

The Nationalist Party immediately came out against the Farrugia motion while the Labour Party stills has to declare its stand. In such a manner an issue such as abortion, more than divorce, becomes subject to political calculations.

Admittedly, the availability of abortion just across the sea has perhaps deadened the urge of some people to make abortion available here as well.

But a legislative proposal decriminalising abortion can spark all sorts of mischief, as the experience of other countries can tell us. From electoral boycotts to pressures on the Head of State to the targeting of abortion clinics to the ugly scenes in Ireland to stop underage mothers-to-be from going abroad, presumably to have an abortion.

Whatever her real reasons to table the motion, Dr Farrugia’s maverick incursion has yet to prove to the country it had the country’s well-being at heart. It does not offer a solution that was not there before except for one which will be the worst one for all, especially the weak and the undefended ones.

On the other hand, those now pontificating on the sanctity of life now have the chance to prove their words with actions.

 

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