Abortion call slammed by MP: 'Are we striving to be animals like others?'

They may be an absolute minority but womens' rights activists who called for abortion to be legalised have provoked a passionate debate

Nationalist Party MP Edwin Vassallo (left), and Democratic Party MP Godfrey Farrugia (right)
Nationalist Party MP Edwin Vassallo (left), and Democratic Party MP Godfrey Farrugia (right)


Abortion for some represents a woman's right to choose but for Nationalist Party MP Edwin Vassallo it can only mean a loss of dignity.

The conservative MP does not mince his words in his reaction to a proposal by womens' rights activists last Saturday for abortion to be legalised under certain circumstances.

"By striving to be the same as countries abroad, it only means that we are striving to do wrong as happens abroad and to be animals like others. Because you need to be an animal to think that killing a vulnerable person is acceptable," Vassallo said when talking to MaltaToday.

The Womens' Rights Foundation released a position paper that included a proposal for access to safe and legal abortion through the public health system under at least four circumstances that include if the pregnancy is endangering the woman's life and if it was the result of rape.

But Vassallo took issue with these proposals. "I cannot accept that our country has come to the point that it accepts that a baby gets torn apart while still in the womb... If we arrived to the point that we accept this, the country has lost all dignity."

Women's Rights Foundation says abortion should be legal:

  • When it is necessary to save a woman’s life
  • Preserve a woman’s physical and mental health
  • In cases of rape or incest
  • In cases of fatal foetal impairment

The position paper presented by the foundation outlined seven recommendations for a national action plan for sexual and reproductive health, comprehensive sexuality education, contraception, and abortion.

Abortion is illegal in Malta and punishable by up to three years imprisonment
Abortion is illegal in Malta and punishable by up to three years imprisonment

The position paper also recommended that abortion be decriminalised so that Maltese women who access abortion in other countries or through telemedicine do not face criminal proceedings, especially when accessing local health services for possible post-abortion complications. Abortion carries a three-year prison sentence in Malta.

Read more: Abortion surveys do not reflect reality, womens' rights group claims

But Vassallo insisted that abortion defeated the whole argument in favour of gender equality. "We don’t truly understand what equality is, as speaking about abortion defeats the purpose if we don’t consider an unborn child to be a person."

He also believes that anyone who accepts abortion does not deserve to be considered a person, and that the country will turn into a slaughterhouse if abortion is made legal.

"All this country cares about is power and money. It is shameful,” he said. “Where is the Catholic Church? Everyone’s mouth is shut, and everyone is alienated," he lamented.

But Vassallo is not alone. Abortion remains one of the very few topics that has failed to gain any traction among the political class. While some like Vassallo offer a non-negotiable stand, others may be less dogmatic in their approach.

Read also: No mandate to open debate on abortion, Joseph Muscat tells human rights commissioner

Democratic Party MP Godfrey Farrugia, who is also against abortion, offered a sober perspective on the matter. He believes that a woman who commits an abortion is not a criminal.

"Our society is still very prejudiced against, hostile to, and judgmental where women are concerned," he told MaltaToday.

He reiterated that the "right to life and the right to live" should be upheld but also called for greater understanding and support for women, who "land themselves or are hurled into the cruel predicament of having to contemplate executing their children".

Farrugia said that condemning and criminalising these traumatised or vulnerable women was not the way forward.

"While abortion should never be used as a means of family planning since the planning should precede pregnancy, neither should childbearing be used as a means to subordinate women," he added.

Read also: MaltaToday Survey: Abortion remains a no-go area for Maltese