The Malta Independent 28 January 2023, Saturday
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Not in our name: MAM says abortion amendment bill creates more problems for doctors

Tuesday, 6 December 2022, 12:44 Last update: about 3 months ago

The bill aiming to eliminate the risk of criminal prosecution of doctors if a pregnancy is terminated to protect a mother's life or health will cause more problems for doctors, the Medical Association of Malta said on Tuesday. 

MAM never asked for the bill, which amends the criminal code, and was not consulted by the government about it, the union said in a press conference, arguing that the vague wording causes more concerns than certainties #.

The bill is in its second reading in Parliament, and has sparked protests from anti-abortion lobby groups, who insist that the amendments open the door to abortion.

Addressing the media, MAM president Martin Balzan said that rather than protecting doctors, the amendment is set to create legal issues.

The union agrees with the safeguarding a mother’s life, as this is already done in practice, Balzan said, but the text also speaks of interventions leading to the termination of pregnancies to safeguard the mother's health. This is something we do not agree with, he said. 

“Including the mother’s health in the discussion will only bring up more problems, rather than solve them. This is a problem of wording, of interpretation, the text is too vague and we believe the wording should be completely amended or changed, so it will be clear on what is already regularised.”

The decision to terminate a pregnancy should not be taken by one doctor, he said, but by a board made up of three professionals.

The Prime Minister has said that it will be up to the doctors to decide on whether a medical intervention is ncessary, but this is not specified in the bill, Balzan said.

If the government was planning to introduce abortion then doctors "should not be put in the middle of the controversy."  

Doctors this not ask for this amendment, Balzan said. "If we are introducing an amendment that will bring in abortion, we do not want anything to do with it.”

The union is urging the government to give more time for the bill to be discussed so that its wording would really safeguard mothers-to-be and doctors. 

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