The Malta Independent 30 November 2022, Wednesday
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Pro-choice rally takes place in Valletta

Sunday, 25 September 2022, 17:20 Last update: about 3 months ago

A large pro-choice rally took place in Valletta on Sunday, calling for the legalisation of abortion.

Speeches were delivered at the Hastings Gardens.

Pro choice activist Lara Dimitrijevic said that the pandemic has "not silenced nor stopped us from abortion care. To the contrary we have become louder than ever and 55% of the Maltese population today agree that no woman should be imprisoned for accessing abortion care."

"No woman wakes up one fine morning and decides to terminate her pregnancy, like some extremists insinuate," she said. "The world has heard the trauma that Andrea and Jay have been through to access what, in a normal world, is considered an imminent and urgent medical care. I will never ever forget their look of fear and Jay's echoing sob that not only has he lost his daughter, but that the lack of access to termination could lead to the loss of the love of his life." She was referring to the story of an American woman who was refused an abortion in Malta, despite the pregnancy being unviable and potentially life threatening to the mother. 

One activist from Moviment Graffitti said that Malta is the only EU country where abortion is not permitted under any circumstance. "This means that those who need an abortion have to look for abortion pills online, that do not harm them but are still illegal," she said. Alternatively, she said, they would have to travel abroad or "as there are some who have done, resort to dangerous methods to try and end their pregnancy."

"Abortion is a social justice question," she said, adding that having to travel abroad to have such care is discriminatory against those who cannot do so.

She said that hundreds of Maltese residents have abortions each year, and the women come from all walks of life.

She said that total prohibition of abortion is a form of oppression against women. She said that no state, government, religious institution, judge or person has a right to dictate what a woman can do with her body.

The activist said that abortion is an essential healthcare, "and the time has come not to see people as criminals for doing what is best for ourselves, for our bodies, for our health... what other healthcare service is against the law?"

She said that abortion should be legal, accessible, local and free. "You should never be made to carry a pregnancy against your will."

A just society, she said, needs to ensure that everyone should have the choice to decide when, if and with whom to have children.

Another activist, from Young Progressive Beings, said she is sick and tired of explaining, debating, begging for her own right to bodily autonomy. She said that she is tired of people treating her body as a conversation starter and anyone else's business. "Abortion is a medical procedure that can be the only thing standing in the way of saving a person's life."

An Irish activist also spoke, and highlighted how recently, abortion laws in Ireland changed. She expressed her solidarity with women in Iran. "Nobody, anywhere should be telling women what to wear."

She said that the numbers at today's rally are far more than the last time she was in the country for a rally. "Nobody anywhere should be telling people what to do with their bodies."

A number of other activists also spoke.


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