Bernard Grech insists government’s amendment is abortion through the back door

The Opposition leader says the termination of pregnancy should only happen if a woman’s life is in danger as he ridicules Andrea Prudente

Opposition leader Bernard Grech
Opposition leader Bernard Grech

Robert Abela is ‘gifting’ Malta abortion on the eve of Christmas, Bernard Grech said on Wednesday, accusing the government of lying and abusing people’s emotions.

In a speech delivered at the top of his voice, the Opposition leader said Abela wanted to introduce abortion without having an electoral mandate and “through the back door”.

He urged the Prime Minister to ditch the proposed amendment that ensures doctors will be able to terminate a pregnancy when the woman’s life or health is at risk, and legislate only when a woman’s life is in danger.

Grech said the amendment proposed by the Prime Minister was similar to what had been done in the UK and which ended up being used as a pretext for abortion on demand.

“Saving the woman’s life is not in contention. It is the health aspect in government’s amendment that opens the door wide open to abortion. Instead of giving the woman the necessary treatment while at the same time saving the baby, Robert Abela wants to kill the baby,” Grech said.

He insisted that nobody has ever been charged in court because the treatment used to save a woman’s life caused the termination of pregnancy. “But if there is this doubt, we should take up the proposal put forward by more than 80 academics to offer legal certainty only when a woman’s life is at stake,” the Opposition leader said.

'This pregnant American woman'

At one point, Grech ridiculed American woman Andrea Prudente, whose case kick-started the abortion debate earlier this year.

In a belittling tone and without even using her name, Grech said: “This pregnant American woman travelled more than 20 hours to celebrate her ‘baby moon’ in Malta. I never heard of this baby moon but she called it a baby as well. She wanted an abortion, despite our doctors treating her well and in a prudent way. Her baby moon ended when she went to Spain by air ambulance and then she sued the Maltese state.”

Grech played on her surname to insist it was Maltese doctors who were prudent, adding Prudente was never in danger of dying. “This was confirmed by the State Advocate in his reply to the constitutional case filed by the woman.”

“It is a lie to say she was in danger of dying. She was not removing the very premise on which government’s amendment was built,” he said.

READ ALSO: Azzopardi’s incredible claim - ‘Pregnant American woman feigned danger to fuel abortion controversy’

Making ample reference to the fact that this law was being introduced on the eve of Christmas, Grech urged the Prime Minister to take the “mature decision” and agree with the Opposition’s proposal based on what the academics said.

He accused Abela of rushing the amendment because it “earned him votes”. “Robert Abela is introducing this amendment because polls show that he has to gain. You are not a politician but a pollster.”

Grech insisted that it is only when a woman’s life is at risk, should the protection of her life override that of the baby’s.

Naomi Cachia: ‘Stop demonising women’

Grech’s disparaging reference to Andrea Prudente did not go unnoticed by government MP Naomi Cachia who took the floor moments later.

PL MP Naomi Cachia
PL MP Naomi Cachia

“Let us stop demonising women, whoever they are, from wherever they are. I was surprised how low the Opposition leader went, using disparaging, insensitive and shameful words on a woman who had a medical complication in her pregnancy,” Cachia said, referring to Prudente by her full name.

She asked poignantly: “What would a woman passing through a medical complication in her pregnancy, who heard the Opposition leader speak this evening think?”

She insisted the Criminal Code will still ban abortion but the amendment would give doctors and women the legal certainty that no action would be taken against them if a termination is necessary to safeguard a woman’s life or health.

In a more measured tone, PN MP Joe Giglio insisted that the amendment proposed by government was still ambiguous in its wording and questioned whether it really gives doctors legal certainty.

PN MP Joe Giglio
PN MP Joe Giglio

Giglio said the legal protection should spell it out clear that doctors can intervene when the choice is between the life of the mother and the life of the child.

Beppe Fenech Adami urged government MPs to stand up and be counted. “Be the voice of the voiceless. Join us. This is not a vote of trust in government and will not threaten the administration’s permanence.”

READ ALSO: Robert Abela hints at President’s discomfort with abortion amendment