Pro-choice groups call out medical association for ignoring doctors’ concerns on abortion law

Over 100 doctors raised a judicial protest against the government on the current blanket ban on abortion

Several pro-choice groups have called out the Medical Association of Malta (MAM) for ignoring the concerns of over 100 doctors on Malta’s current blanket ban on abortion.

In a statement on Thursday, the groups pointed out that 135 doctors had raised a judicial protest against the government on the blanket ban on abortions.

The protest compelled the Prime Minister and the Minister of Health to review the current law on abortion.

Currently, Malta’s laws prohibit the termination of pregnancy under any circumstance, including when the mother’s health is at risk. The crime carries a four-year prison sentence for doctors, who would also be stripped of their professional warrant.

But an amendment being put forward by the government would indemnify doctors and mothers from prosecution if the termination of a pregnancy results from a medical intervention needed to save the life or health of the woman from grave danger.

Earlier this week, MAM held a press conference and argued that the Bill would cause more problems for medical professions because of the vague definition of ‘health’ used in the amendment.

The pro-choice groups said the MAM is ignoring the concerns of doctors who asked the government to review the law. They pointed out that most of the doctors were members of the MAM who feel aggrieved that they cannot offer best-evidence practice to their patients as recommended by international medical guidelines.

More so, the groups argued that the current law produces a chilling effect on doctors who want to provide their patients with the best possible healthcare without risk of prosecution.

“Criminalising doctors has done nothing to help these patients so far. The amendment ensures patients no longer must hear that doctors’ hands are tied when they need to follow international guidelines while providing healthcare,” the groups said.

The groups who signed this statement are Doctors for Choice, Aditus, Allied Healthcare for Choice, Integra, Isles of the Left, Moviment Graffitti, Young Progressive Beings, Women’s Rights Foundation, Men Against Violence, and Malta Humanist Association.