Life Network Malta files judicial protest against emergency contraception

Life Network Malta chairperson Miriam Sciberras and vice chairperson Klaus Vella Bardon called 'on the Medicines Authority to protect the right to life or be held legally responsible for their actions'

Life Network chairperson Miriam Sciberras
Life Network chairperson Miriam Sciberras

Just a month after the morning-after pill entered the Maltese market, opponents Life Network Malta (LNM) moved to kick-start legal procedures insisting that the emergency contraceptive should not be made available.

Chairperson Miriam Sciberras and deputy chairman Klaus Vella Bardon yesterday filed a judicial protest “to protect the right to life in all its stages”.

Filed against the Medicines Authority, the pro-life movement said it was holding the authority legally responsible for its actions.

The morning-after pill was introduced after 102 women went to court demanding its introduction. While the emergency contraceptive was not available, roundabouts methods were used to provide the same effects – albeit being more dangerous. 

EllaOne was put on the market after lengthy debates before a joint parliamentary committee, which saw MPs from both sides of the House presenting 10 recommendations on the sale of the morning-after pill.

Levonorgestrel falls under Article 126(a), which states that in the absence of a marketing authorisation for a medicinal product, the licensing authority may authorise the product in Malta, provided that it is authorised in another EU/EEA member state.

The recommendation also allows pharmacists and doctors to be conscientious objectors, meaning that they can refuse to sell the emergency contraceptive. By way of example, St James Hospital has refused to stock the morning-after pill.  

But pro-lifers have insisted that the introduction of the morning after pill heralds abortion through the backdoor. In their judicial protest, Life Network Malta argued that the pill worked by causing a “chemical abortion”. It said that the Medicines Authority, as a state entity, is obliged to follow Maltese law and respect human life, guaranteeing it in each of its stages and to issue its advice accordingly. 

“The decision to issue licenses for emergency contraceptives is in breach of Malta's criminal code and the Embryo Protection Act,” LNM insisted.

LNM said claims that Malta “was bound” by EU medical licensing rules were misleading, because Malta's EU Accession Treaty expressly excluded contraceptives and abortifacients from the EU's marketing authorisation rules. 

The argument put forward during the morning-after pill discussion was that EllaOne was covered by a European permit.

The movement also accused the National Commission for the Promotion of Equality of taking “a position in favour of the importation of the MAP by basing itself on statements issued by the Women's Rights Foundation, while ignoring the vulnerability of embryos, which have no voice”.
Lawyers Tonio Azzopardi, Louise Ann Pulis and Ramon Bonett Sladden signed the judicial protest.