The Malta Independent 22 September 2021, Wednesday

PN MEPs, Agius Saliba vote against controversial Matic report; Engerer votes in favour

Thursday, 24 June 2021, 18:57 Last update: about 4 months ago

Three Maltese MEPs have voted against a report which calls on member states to protect and enhance women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights, and labels total bans on abortion as human rights violations.

PN MEPs David Casa and Roberta Metsola voted against the Matic report, as did Labour MEP Alex Agius Saliba.

Agius Saliba’s colleagues Alfred Sant and Josianne Cutajar both abstained, while Cyrus Engerer broke ranks and voted in favour of the report.

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The report was ultimately approved by 378 votes to 255.  42 MEPs abstained from the vote.

The Matic report calls on EU countries to ensure access to a full range of high-quality, comprehensive and accessible sexual and reproductive health and rights, and to remove all barriers impeding full access to these services.

The report notes that some member states still have highly restrictive laws prohibiting abortion except in strictly defined circumstances, leading to women having to seek clandestine abortions or carry their pregnancy to term against their will, which Matic – the rapporteur – called a violation of their human rights.

Malta is the only country in the EU to have an outright ban on abortion, and a woman is liable to three years in prison if they terminate their pregnancy.

The report, which is non-binding, garnered the attention of anti-choice group Doctors for Life, who petitioned MEPs to vote against it.

Engerer had already said he would vote in favour of the report, saying that he will “always fight for civil liberties, equality and accessibility and affordability of healthcare for all – and will continue to do so.”

He had expressed disappointment that the discussion in the report in Malta had focused solely on abortion, noting that the report was based on science and stressed on the importance of fact-based sexual education and access to contraception for all, IVF treatments for all, and medical access for trans persons amongst others.

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