The Malta Independent 3 February 2023, Friday
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Abela says authorities have been closing a blind eye to medical abortions for years

Marc Galdes Wednesday, 30 November 2022, 13:48 Last update: about 3 months ago

Prime Minister Robert Abela said that the State Advocate had informed him that the State has technically been closing an eye to medical abortions, which were carried out to save the woman’s life for years.

Asked about criticism that there were loopholes within the abortion law amendment, he said that the “loopholes exist today.”

Abela said that there is an informal secret practice taking place at Mater Dei, where a number of medical professionals have decided how to function, with the best interest in mind.

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For a number of years, medical professionals have thought that they are immune to the proceedings against abortion, if they carry out an abortion in the last moments when of a woman’s life is at risk.

He called this an “artificial peace of mind”. He said that the State Advocate informed him that this practice that has been taking place over a number of years was breaking the law.

Abela said that in reality, when medical professionals choose to carry out abortions to save a woman’s life, instead of letting both the mother and foetus die, in the past this was being done against the law.

“Technically, all the medical professionals and the prospective mothers who went through this procedure committed the crime of abortion,” he said.

As a result, the State Advocate must close a blind eye to all these previous cases as well he said.

President George Vella

Times of Malta reported that President George Vella is considering the option to resign if the amendment is approved as proposed by the government.

When Abela was asked about this by the media, he said that he has discussions regularly with Vella. However, when pressed about what Vella said about this legislative amendment he said that the details will remain confidential, and suggested that the question be asked to Vella himself.

He pointed out that there were other presidents in the past who had reservations about certain laws. Therefore, he said that discussions will continue taking place with Vella and all the other stakeholders about the amendment.

Once again he clarified that this law would not be legalising abortion, he said that this was a false narrative spread by the Nationalist Party to create confusion and fear.

Mental Health

The Malta Union of Midwives and Nurses (MUMN) is calling for an urgent meeting with Abela and Health Minister Chris Fearne to discuss the abortion law amendment.

The president of the MUMN, Paul Pace, informed said that it is worried about the vagueness of the amendment and how a mental health diagnosis might be subject to personal opinion.

When asked whether there will be any guidelines for doctors to make decisions in moments where the woman’s mental health is at risk, he said that he trusts medical professionals to carry out their job properly and follow the best practices.

If anyone would abuse this amendment then there will be criminal proceedings as a consequence.

Abela said that the law has been made clear because of the word “grievous”. This word was included in the law to qualify the situations where this procedure can take place, and will be followed by the medical professionals under the definition of grievous from the “best practices”.

He said that the government could have done nothing after Prudente’s case, instead, it chose to act to protect women and doctors.

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