Press Release 23.06.2023: Bill 28 has become a law that may kill women
New Amendments to Abortion Bill are vague, unworkable, and even dangerous and will lead to vulnerable pregnant persons being left permanently disabled or dead.
The debate was a major breakthrough in Malta and allowed people to view abortion as the necessary medical procedure that it is, but the revised version of Bill 28 is a step in the wrong direction. For the first time in this country’s history, the law will mandate an unworkable and dangerous requirement of three specialists’ consent before a pregnant person can access treatment while their health is at grave risk.
Even if the revised Bill 28 still allows doctors to terminate a pregnancy that is causing a risk to life without the authorisation of additional specialists, it is highly likely that doctors will seek authorisation in all cases due to fear of prosecution, leading to a ‘chilling factor’. This would be a step backward from the status quo of simply not enforcing the law in hospitals and may lead to pregnant persons facing even longer delays and barriers to treatment than they do now.
To make it worse, the only situation when professionals are allowed to act is when the woman has condition that will lead to death. This means that pregnant persons could have to endure any kind of life-changing condition or disability. The government is effectively saying that women should only be protected if they are going to die. This has significant consequences and goes against government’s actions to protect women against violence, even contradicting them.
The original Bill 28 was a step in the right direction for our country to be a safer place for pregnant women and persons, allowing doctors to offer the necessary treatment to preserve their health and lives. Even then, it would have not gone far enough by international standards; even then it would have still been the most restrictive law in the EU. On the contrary, this current amendment is a major setback and a betrayal of pregnant women and persons in Malta.
As the Voice for Choice coalition, we withdraw our support for Bill 28 and call upon the government to pause the hurried passage of the Bill through Parliament, engage in more consultations, and to avoid making a historic mistake.
We will not be deterred from pushing for change. In fact, in face of such betrayal, we promise to keep fighting more passionately and determinedly for the protection of women and pregnant persons in Malta until abortion is decriminalised and accessible.