[WATCH] After abortion U-turn, Labour MPs stick to party line: ‘It’s a historic change’

Government MPs insist abortion legal amendment approved on Monday is not a U-turn on initial position that allowed greater protection for women’s health

Justice Minister Jonathan Attard was one of the proponents of Bill 28
Justice Minister Jonathan Attard was one of the proponents of Bill 28

Government MPs stuck to the party line on the abortion law amendment outside parliament on Tuesday, denying they did a U-turn and insisting the change is historic.

MPs told journalists Bill 28 represented a “historic step forward”, shooting down any suggestions that government had made a U-turn on the principles outlined in its original Bill.

On Monday, parliament’s Consideration of Bills Committee unanimously approved a new version of Bill 28, which critics described as regressive because it watered down the protection to women’s health.

MP Cressida Galea said the amendment was a historic one which will save women’s lives when they are in need of a medical procedure.

“As a party, we were never content with the status quo, and we were not happy with leaving things as they are,” she said.

Inclusion Minister Julia Farrugia Portelli said she is the mother of a young girl, and is happy that if needed, her daughter would be able to get the medical help she needs.

Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo said the debate on abortion was a healthy one, and the objectives of the amendment have been reached.

“This was a historic step forward,” he said, insisting it was not a government U-turn.

Housing Minister Roderick Galdes said the law was clearer now. “Government struck a balance.”

Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri said the original objectives of the amendment have been reached, once again insisting government did not back down on its original proposal.

Justice Minister Jonathan Attard, who was one of the ministers fronting Bill 28, said the law as it currently stands leaves no room for any sort of medical intervention. Bill 28 will change this state of affairs, he said, repeating the mantra that it was a “historic step forward.”

Labour Party CEO and MP Randolph De Battista did not comment when questioned by the press.

Bill 28 was initially tabled in parliament last November and traces its roots to the case of Andrea Prudente, an American tourist who was forced to transfer to Spain after needing an abortion while on holiday in Malta. Prudente started miscarrying and despite being told by doctors that her pregnancy was not viable was denied an abortion.

In comments to the media, obstetrician and gynaecologist Mark Sant described the new bill as “regressive”, arguing it would not have made any difference in the case of Andrea Prudente.

READ ALSO: Why the new version of Bill 28 still leaves Maltese women knocking on the doors of death