The problem with Bernard Grech’s misogynistic speech

To state that there is nothing natural about male supremacy is to state the obvious. Sadly, it is not that obvious to Bernard Grech and his party’s establishment

Bernard Grech
Bernard Grech

When Opposition leader Bernard Grech addressed Parliament and expressed his and his party’s views on the amendment aimed at protecting pregnant women and doctors from the threat of criminal prosecution if a pregnancy is terminated when the mother's life or health are at serious risk, the real face of the Nationalist Party was exposed: misogynistic, arrogant, and downright offensive to women and mothers-to-be.

Leading members of the Nationalist Party are bending over backwards in an attempt to defeat this amendment, albeit with no success. They want doctors and women to be in limbo, and it’s Bernard Grech he who leads the pack.

Grech took aim at Ms. Andrea Prudente, a mother-to-be who, whilst on a holiday in Malta this summer, was denied a request to terminate a non-viable pregnancy because doctors could not treat her out of fear that their intervention could terminate the pregnancy, and thus make them liable to criminal action and imprisonment. Prudente’s ordeal made headlines in Malta and beyond, and shortly after the incident, a group of 135 doctors signed a judicial protest asking for a review of Malta's laws.

In an interview with Times of Malta, Prudente’s partner, Jay Weeldreyer, described how much they had longed for their baby girl, “We came to Malta on a babymoon. We certainly did not come for an abortion,” he said. Prudente’s story ended the way it did, but the ending could have turned into a tragedy.

Yet the day before Grech’s shocking outburst, his predecessor Adrian Delia was already setting the scene. He attempted to ridicule Prudente’s situation saying that the young woman “from the west coast complained because Maltese doctors inserted tubes into her body.” If I had to call this comment insensitive it would be an understatement. It seems that the misogynistic attitude of the Nationalist Party establishment is infectious, and Dr Delia, usually a scapegoat of the establishment, has caught the bug as well.

Failed PN candidate and former MP Jason Azzopardi claimed, in one of his usual Facebook rants, that Andrea Prudente’s case was “part of a conspiracy to introduce abortion to Malta.” This absurd conspiracy theory was met with a chorus of disapproval. Sadly, this disapproval went over the heads of his former party colleagues, not least the leader of the Opposition, given his absurd speech in Parliament the following day, albeit protected by his parliamentary privilege. Ms. Prudente has since filed libel suits against Azzopardi.

Having painted himself and his party into a tight spot, PN MP Karol Aquilina’s contribution to the Parliamentary debate was that “the PL government’s Christmas present to the people of Malta for 2023 is a law that will introduce abortion.” Ridiculous, isn’t it? Well, what did you expect from the leading voice of the Nationalist Party’s establishment?

Bernard Grech went one step further and said: “This pregnant American woman travelled more than 20 hours to celebrate her babymoon in Malta. Her surname is Prudente, but as I already said, I think the doctors were more prudent than her.” His misogynistic comments were met with an outpour of anger and condemnation, as he showed his, and his party’s true colours, and insensitivity.

Now, my biggest concern here is how easily Nationalist Party apologists brushed off these comments, not realising that this effectively gives a carte blanche for the rest of the party to follow suit and replicate this deeply disturbing narrative and nonchalant dismissal of a woman’s agony at her weakest. Such rhetoric is dangerous, and its effects are compounded now that one of our political leaders has also taken the bait.

I expected an apology, yet we’ve been met with deafening silence by the rest of the Nationalist Party on this issue.

During this debate, the PN seems to have become increasingly more entrenched in its position: that of deliberately spouting factually incorrect nonsense. What a way to ensure the opposition’s complete ineffectiveness during a discussion of such importance.

The strategy of Grech and his party is clear: instead of helping mothers-to-be during difficult moments, they are being told to shut themselves off.

Government has made it abundantly clear that in cases where both the mother and child’s lives can be saved, every medical effort under the sun shall be carried out. Undoubtedly, and as has always been the case, they shall leave no stone unturned in doing so. That is the overriding principle. Sadly however, there are instances in which this is not possible, and the only medical remedy is to terminate the pregnancy to save the mother’s life. Hence, the government’s amendment is aimed to cater for these very unfortunate instances, to give peace of mind to doctors and women when grave medical complications arise during a pregnancy. And whilst there have been no criminal cases brought forward against women or doctors so far, this does not guarantee that it could not happen in the future.

It is, therefore, in doctors and medical experts that government trusts, and it will be up to doctors to decide what conditions justify a medical intervention that would result in the termination of a pregnancy, under the terms of legal amendments being debated by parliament.

To state that there is nothing natural about male supremacy is to state the obvious. Sadly, it is not that obvious to Bernard Grech and his party’s establishment. He and his party have clearly lost the plot. In a matter of a few days, Grech, his MPs, and their bedfellows, demonstrated deeply misogynistic behaviours. Well, women are watching, and we’re deeply disappointed.