Updated | Women’s lobby hits out at misleading pro-lifers’ claims on morning-after pill

Malta Women’s Lobby accuses Life Network of misleading public over PN’s electoral pledge to give out free contraception and access to morning-after pill

Updated at 14:45 with Voice for Choice reaction

The Malta Women’s Lobby has accused pro-lifers Life Network Foundation of propagating misleading information about the morning-after pill.

Life Network’s claims were advanced in a statement criticising the Nationalist Party’s pledge for free contraceptives and free access to the morning-after pill.

The Nationalist Party announced this week it would launch a free contraceptive programme, and grant free access to the morning-after pill if elected to power.

The anti-choice Life Network Foundation denigrated the PN bid to “dish out” free contraceptives and claimed the PN’s pledge contradicted its claim to be in favour of the protection of life from conception.

Life Network claimed it was in favour of a debate that improves the nation’s sexual health, while stating that free contraceptives were “no solution”.

“Educating youth about sexual health starts from teaching them appreciation of self respect, loyalty and friendship. Knowledge of contraceptive alternatives and how they work makes sense within this context,” said Life Network president Dr Miriam Sciberras.

Sciberras claimed that the morning-after pill was not a contraceptive but a ‘contragestive’ since it can act after fertilisation takes place. “A newly conceived life may be destroyed by the morning after pill. Taken over the counter and at frequent intervals these pills can also cause side effects.”

But the Malta Women Lobby called out Life Network, saying the NGO’s claims were unscientific and harmful. “What the Life Network Foundation is propagating is disinformation.”

The MWL said Life Network was deliberately misleading people. “These deliberately misleading claims are not helpful in any way and will simply contribute to Malta’s already high rate of teenage pregnancies and rising STDs. What the Life Network Foundation is propagating is disinformation.

“We urge Malta’s news agencies to challenge such claims and to resist being used to disseminate a false agenda that puts the health and lives of members of our society at risk. Access to free contraceptives and the morning-after pill are essential for women in a society that truly believes in equality between women and men.”

Voice for Choice condemns Life Network Malta's 'false assumptions' and government for funding it 

In a reaction the Voice for Choice coalition, condemned Life Network Foundation’s "several false assumptions" and the government for funding it.

"In a country where abortion is banned in all circumstances and that has high rates of sexually transmitted infections and teenage births, it is very important that contraceptives are made free and accessible."

It stated that morning-after pills, including ellaOne, do not cause abortions, and that abstinence and "natural" family planning methods have been shown to be an ineffective compared to contraceptives.

“People in Malta deserve better sexuality education, better access to contraception, and access to safe, legal abortion, and we encourage all political parties to stop burying their heads in the sand and do what is right for the sexual and reproductive health of people in Malta,” concluded Voice for Choice.