The Malta Independent 28 January 2023, Saturday
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44 organisations, former President appeal to government to redraft abortion law amendment

Tuesday, 29 November 2022, 11:26 Last update: about 3 months ago

44 NGOs, organisations, groups, and associations, together with former President of the Republic Marie Louise Coleiro Preca have appealed to the government to take note of concerns raised by the Group of 80 experts on the proposed bill regarding Malta's abortion law.

They appealed to the government to redraft the amendment to articles 241 and 243 of the Criminal Code presented in Parliament.

They said that the amendment as proposed, opens the door for the introduction of abortion, and must be replaced with the proposed amendment presented by a group of 80 inter-disciplinary experts in clinical medicine, gynaecology and obstetrics, health sciences, midwifery, law, psychology, well-being, social policy, family studies, philosophy, ethics and theology.

The Group of 80 had concluded that the amendment put forward by the government opens the door for legal abortion in Malta as it does not only speak of instances where the woman is at risk of dying, but opens the door to other health related instances that do not put the life of the mother at risk of death, they said,

The government's proposed amendment reads as follows: 'No offence under article 241(2) or article 243 shall be committed when the termination of a pregnancy results from a medical intervention aimed at protecting the health of a pregnant woman suffering from a medical complication which may put her life at risk or her health in grave jeopardy.'

In a statement, the 44 organisations said that this goes beyond the declared intention of government when presenting this amendment, reminding government that it does not have a mandate to introduce abortion in Malta.

The Group of 80 academics had provided an alternative amendment which the 44 organisations said ensures that the law complies with the "dignity of the human person and the human rights deriving therefrom, in particular, the fundamental right to life of the woman and the unborn child, and the right to legal certainty, in relation to the situation where a pregnant woman's life is in manifest danger of death or where a real and substantial risk to her life exists from a physical illness."

The groups appealed to government to adopt this version in Parliament:

"No crime is committed under article 241(2) or article 243 when the death or bodily harm of an unborn child results from a medical intervention conducted with the aim of saving the life of the mother where there is a real and substantial risk of loss of the mother's life from a physical illness."

Among the 44 organisations who endorsed the alternative amendment are Caritas Malta, Doctors for Life, Dar Merhba Bik, Fondazzjoni Sebh and the Life Network Foundation.

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