The Malta Independent 28 January 2023, Saturday
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Watch: PM says government open to discussion on changing wording of abortion amendment bill

Marc Galdes Monday, 5 December 2022, 11:18 Last update: about 3 months ago

Prime Minister Robert Abela said today that the government is open to changing the wording of the bill currently being debated in Parliament with regard to the abortion law.

The Prime Minister reiterated that he does not believe that the government's proposed amendment will legalise abortion in Malta.

He mentioned how medical professionals thought that they are immune to legal proceedings against them if they carry out an abortion in the last moments when a woman's life is at risk. However, he said that these procedures were still actually against the law, which is why this amendment was proposed to protect the doctor and the prospective mother in these rare cases.

The amendment bill being proposed by the government is that 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.

More than 80 academics said that the wording of the bill should be changed as the way it is written is opening the door to abortion on demand. The Church, the Nationalist Party and others have also expressed a similar opinion.

Asked by The Malta Independent today, the Prime Minister said that he is open to a discussion on the changing of the wording, on condition that two principles are maintained. The principles are the safeguarding of the expectant mothers in circumstances where her life is in danger, and the safeguarding of the expectant mother from a grievous danger.

These are principles from which we will not budge, the Prime Minister said.

Where it is possible that both lives are saved, then it is clear that every effort should be made for this to happen, the PM said.

If there is a debate on how these two principles can be endorsed, “then I am open for discussion”, Abela said.

He expressed his respect for the different positions people have, including those who protested on Sunday, and said that this is why the government doesn't ignore anyone.

"It was that very principle, that we do not ignore anyone, that led us to propose an amendment which will be accommodating a very small number of doctors and prospective mothers," he said.

Abela said that if there is at least one prospective mother whose life is at risk or her health is in grave jeopardy, this amendment would be there to accommodate those rare situations, and protect the doctor and the prospective mother from any criminal proceedings being taken against them. 

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