The Malta Independent 28 January 2023, Saturday
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More than 100 academics in counter petition in favour of abortion amendment

Monday, 5 December 2022, 17:24 Last update: about 3 months ago

In a counter-petition, more than 100 academics say they are supporting the amendment being discussed in Parliament to amend the abortion law, making it possible for doctors to intervene without fear of prosecution if the expectant mother’s life is in danger.

Last week, more than 80 academics signed a letter arguing against the proposal, saying it was opening the way to abortion by stealth.

In their petition today, 105 academics said what the government is proposing is the “bare minimum” to safeguard women’s lives and health.

“We support the Bill as it currently stands. Opposing this legislation or further restricting it puts women’s lives and health at higher risk,” the academics said.

These academics rejected the assertion made by their colleagues that the inclusion of ‘health’ as an exception opened the door to abortion on demand as happened in the UK.

“We note that the wording of the UK Act is very different from the wording proposed by the government of Malta… the UK legislation requires doctors to weigh the risks after considering various factors but unlike the current proposal by the Maltese government, it does not require there to be ‘medical complications’ nor does it require a pregnant woman’s health to be ‘in grave jeopardy’,” the bill supporters said.

They also commented on the concerns raised over the terminology used in the proposed Bill, which does not conform to the current wording in the Criminal Code, which was written in 1874.

The current law uses the words ‘procure her own miscarriage’ and ‘woman with child’, while the Bill uses the words ‘termination of pregnancy’ and ‘pregnant woman’ respectively.

“The existing legislation was written in 1874 and has not changed since, thus the terminology in the original legislation is archaic… thus we support the current terminology used in the Bill and if anything, it is the original legislation that should be amended,” the petition reads.


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