Rights of unborn child should not be neglected in abortion debate, PM states

S&D President Iratxe García Perez said that Malta's ability to debate abortion indicates things are improving locally

Abortion has always been a controversial issue in Malta, but Prime Minister Robert Abela stated on Tuesday that the rights of the unborn child should not be neglected in any abortion debate.

Abela was addressing a press conference at the Mediterranean Conference Centre in Valletta as part of an external group meeting being held by the European Parliament’s S&D group.

He said that his personal position against abortion has always been clear, but added that he respects the divergence of opinions on the subject.

Abela was joined by Iratxe García Perez, President of the S&D group, who on abortion stated that her position is in “clear defence of the rights of women”.

She remarked that there is a difference of opinions on abortion within the S&D delegation, but the fact that Malta is able to hold a public debate on the subject indicates that things are improving.

Malta is the only EU member state to adopt a blanket ban on abortion, which carried a prison conviction of up to three years for women.

However, independent MP Marlene Farrugia presented an amendment bill in parliament last May to decriminalise abortion.

On the S&D conference, Abela said that it is a privilege and an honour to host the group meeting and said that Malta is eager to work for a “progressive and sustainable Europe”.

The PM said that in the midst of amount pressure due to the pandemic, the government supported the families and their health as well as businesses, with a generous package of assistance.

He congratulated Olaf Scholz and the SPD party in Germany, for their win in the general election.

Abela said that Malta will “build back better”; with important reforms in decarbonisation, waste management, transport and labour market pathways.

With regards to the greylisting by the FATF, Abela said that since 2018, the labour government embarked on a number of reforms to strengthen the rule of law, including the nomination of judges and of the police commissioner.

He said that Bernard Grech’s pledge to get Malta out of the greylist within three months, shows political immaturity, lack of knowledge and political immaturity.

Iratxe García Perez said that this was the first meeting, held outside of Brussels since the pandemic. She acknowledged and applauded Malta’s efforts in controlling the pandemic, and said that with 91% of citizens vaccinated, Malta is an example.

She said that the S&D group came to Malta to show support for the labour government and the reforms that are taking place in relation to corruption tackling and fiscal reforms.

García Perez said that the European Union must act united and in contrast to the 2008 economic crisis, it must stay away from measures of austerity, which increase social inequalities.

She mentioned the refugee crisis, and said that European states must show solidarity with each other, especially with Southern Europe. “The guiding principle has to be solidarity,” added García Perez.

She noted that the victory of the SPD in Germany proves that social democracy is gaining strength in Europe.


Abela did not mince words on migration and said that Europe’s approach has been to leave every state fending on its own.

He said that the solutions must be found on the ground and at the country of origin,not just in Libya.

Abela said that Malta always owned up to its responsibilities and added assistance was always provided to the migrants in distress, whenever necessary

García Perez said that solidarity is a principle that should turn into proposals and initiatives, as it is not enough to rely on the good will of the member states.

She agreed with Abela that the migration issue should not be looked at on a sectoral level, and that the EU has a major responsibility to provide aid at the countries of origin, where there are serious social, demographic and democracy issues.