Updated | Women’s rights group goes to court to demand morning-after pill

102 women file judicial protest to call for the licensing, importation and distribution of emergency contraception in Malta • Gift of Life claims proposal 'an attempt to legalise abortion' 

A women’s rights organisation has filed a judicial protest to call for the legalisation of the morning-after pill in Malta.

Backed by 102 women, the Women’s Rights Foundation’s judicial protest warns that the ban of emergency contraception breaches their fundamental rights as women as ratified by Malta in various international conventions.

The organisation, spearheaded by human rights lawyer and women’s rights campaigner Lara Dimitrijevic, are therefore demanding licensing, importation and distribution of emergency contraception in Malta.

“Women’s reproductive freedom can only be seen as a fundamental right that every woman is endowed with,” the Women’s Rights Foundation said in a Facebook post.

“The right of women and couples to decide on number, spacing and timing of their children has been long enshrined in a number of international documents, many of which have been signed and ratified by Maltese governments.

“Considering that even talking about improving the reproductive rights of women in Malta is seen as almost an absolute taboo, change for better availability and better access to various forms of contraception will simply not happen.”

A Facebook page ‘Emergency Contraception for Malta’ has also been set up.

Labour’s new deputy leader Chris Cardona and justice minister Owen Bonnici have both told MaltaToday that they are in favour of a debate on the introduction of the morning-after pill. “Labour, as the leader when it comes to addressing social issues, cannot ignore this topic and definitely needs to keep exploring it,” Cardona said. 

Shadow justice minister Jason Azzopardi said that the topic still needs to be discussed within the parliamentary group, but that the party will stand firmly against abortion.

When asked whether he considers the morning-after pill to be a form of abortion, he said that he “isn’t competent to pass justice on the topic”.

Pro-life organisation Gift of Life came out strongly against the proposal, claiming that it was an attempt to legalise abortion.

“The morning-after pill can prevent conception if taken before conception has occurred, but it can also be abortive. This fact is even written, but lost in technical language, on the information sheet the pill is sold with.”