Morning-after sabotage of life | Miriam Sciberras

To describe this action as a ‘victory’ for any pro-choice movement is illusory and preposterous

File photo
File photo

Prof. Isabel Stabile’s ‘Victory for Women’s Autonomy’ (MaltaToday, 29 January 2022) is based on false and concocted assumptions. A court decided to first give a ruling on the preliminary procedural question as to whether Life Network had the necessary legal standing or juridical interest to file such a judicial review action. The Court did not in any way enter the merits of the case. It took the Court five whole years to decide this preliminary procedural issue, and to rule that an NGO did not have the necessary juridical interest to file such an action.

The Court did not make any pronouncement whatsoever on whether Life Network was right at law or not. Indeed, since it stuck to a ruling on a preliminary procedural matter, it did not even hear any evidence in favour or against the claim made by Life Network, nor did it make any pronouncement on the legality or otherwise of the morning after pills.

To describe this action as a ‘victory’ for any pro-choice movement is illusory and preposterous.

Indeed this judgment constitutes an insurmountable obstacle in the future for any NGO, pro-life, pro-choice or of any other nature, from filing judicial review actions, giving the government of the day or any public authority a blank cheque to violate the law with impunity.

Very rarely do NGOs have a direct actual interest in any cause that they follow, or any case they institute. An environmental voluntary organization challenging a building permit outside a development zone usually does not have a direct personal interest in the subject matter of the litigation.

It merely institutes an action in the public interest to challenge the validity of an action by a public authority on a subject matter related to its activity as an NGO.

A network of pro-life organizations has sufficient interest to challenge the legality of an action by a public authority, in this case that of the Superintendent of Public Health and the Medicines Authority, over the authorisation they gave to allow the morning after pill on the local market. One may agree or disagree with the view that this medicinal product destroys life, but to disallow an NGO from even presenting the judicial action, leads one to the inevitable conclusion that government and public authorities can act with impunity, even if for the sake of the argument, they commit something illegal.

This judgment can set an extremely dangerous precedent in the future for any kind of NGO to challenge the legal validity of anything done by a public authority.

Since, however, Prof. Stabile chose to deceitfully misinterpret this judgment and to turn this into a mud throwing contest hoping that repeated bouts of mudslinging will discredit the work of Life Network Foundation; I will make the following clarifications:

1. We are pro-life and, yes, that includes being pro birth. Our maternity home attests to this. We speak for the protection of vulnerable lives from conception to natural death. The embryonic, foetal, infant, child, adolescent, and adult are but stages in the life cycle of a human being.

2. Unlike Prof. Stabile and Doctors for Choice we do not rejoice at the loss of unwanted human embryonic and foetal lives. We do our utmost to support women in unplanned pregnancies and rejoice with them at the birth of their child, even if the baby is given for adoption.

3. We have a Catholic ethic of life as a Foundation, which means that we help anyone in need including those who have different beliefs, spirituality, or none at all. We help anyone including LGBTIQ people and we have testimonies that attest to this.

4. ‘Conscientious objection must always be supported by rational argument’. Agreed Dr Stabile! And this is why many pharmacists and doctors refuse to give the morning after pill. These professionals have read and followed research that shows that the mechanism of action of the morning after pills is mostly anti-implantation, that is, they do not prevent ovulation, and therefore possible fertilization in most cases, but interfere with the implantation of the embryo in the endometrium causing his or her death. Pharmacists, doctors, and other professionals have a right to conscientious objection, as defined by the European Convention on Human Rights, a right that “pro-choicers” would like to remove so that pro-choice conveniently becomes the only choice.

5. Consumer rights and safety. The pharmacist who sells these drugs is duty bound to ask questions, considering that women may be coerced into taking these tablets, may have medical contraindications or may be taking them frequently instead of using other regular contraceptive methods. There is also recent research that shows that ulipristal acetate is hepatotoxic, which means that it can cause serious liver damage. Women need to know that there are health risks at stake. It is basic consumer rights to be informed.

It would be indeed a sad day for humanity if a ‘victory for women’s autonomy’ ever had to include being anti-birth, anti-life and anti-faith, where only the wanted, perfect child is allowed to live!