Updated | MaltaToday Survey: Abortion remains a no-go area for Maltese

A MaltaToday survey shows that public opinion is against abortion and that support for abortion, even if the numbers are very small, tends to be marginally higher among those who voted for the Labour Party in the last election

The greatest taboo: Maltese remain staunchly opposed to abortion
The greatest taboo: Maltese remain staunchly opposed to abortion

Abortion remains an unassailable bastion in this country’s secular drive with MaltaToday’s latest survey showing an overwhelming rejection across all age groups.

Asked whether they agreed with abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy in particular circumstances that were not specified, 83% said No.

The rejection was stronger (95%) when asked whether they agreed with unrestricted abortion in the first 12 weeks and unrestricted abortion at whatever stage of the pregnancy (97%).

The only instance in which a relative majority agree with abortion is if the mother’s life is in danger. This would appear to be the only exception people are ready to make with 46% agreeing with abortion against 27% who disagree and 27% who are unsure of where they stand on the matter.

It is pertinent to note that Maltese law makes no exceptions and abortion is illegal in all instances and punishable by prison.

The survey also asked respondents whether abortion was acceptable to them if the unborn child is suffering from a severe disability and 67% said No, as opposed to 18% who said Yes and 14% who were unsure.

These figures suggest Prime Minister Joseph Muscat was not off mark when in his curt reply to the Council of Europe’s Human Rights Commissioner last month he said that public opinion was against abortion

Rape is no excuse

Abortion in cases where the woman becomes pregnant as a result of rape is only acceptable for 15% of respondents as opposed to 72% who disagreed and 13%, who were uncertain of where they stood.

And a pregnant girl under the age of 16 has almost no support to bank on if she wants to get an abortion. Asked whether they agreed with terminating the pregnancy in this circumstance, 94% said No, 3% said Yes and another 3% were unsure.

This pattern of results for all questions was replicated roughly across all age groups.

There was a slightly stronger slant towards unrestricted abortion in the first three months of pregnancy among those aged between 18 and 35 but even here the level of agreement only reached 6% as opposed to 94% of the age group who disagreed.

The cohort 18-35 also delivered the only absolute majority in favour of abortion (52%), when asked whether they agree with the termination of a pregnancy if the mother’s life is in danger.

However, when asked whether they agreed with abortion if the child is suffering from a severe disability, the highest level of support (27%) was registered in the middle-aged cohort aged between 36 and 50.

These figures suggest Prime Minister Joseph Muscat was not off mark when in his curt reply to the Council of Europe’s Human Rights Commissioner last month he said that public opinion was against abortion.

However, the survey also shows that support for abortion, even if the numbers are very small, tends to be marginally higher among those who voted for the Labour Party in the last election.

While 14% of those who voted for PL last June agree with abortion in the first 12 weeks in particular circumstances, only 8% of those who voted for the Nationalist Party said Yes.

When asked whether they agreed with unrestricted abortion in the first three months of pregnancy, 3% of PL 2017 voters said Yes as opposed to less than half a percentage point of PN voters.

 

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