[WATCH] ‘Maltese women are having abortions, that’s the reality,’ pro-choice activist says

Activist and social policy academic Andrea Dibben said that despite the fact the majority of Maltese do not resonate with the call to legalise abortion, it was still important to highlight the struggles Maltese women face to due to the country’s strict abortion laws

Pro-choice activist Andrea Dibben says “sociological trauma” women in Malta face because they are forced to keep abortions a secret
Pro-choice activist Andrea Dibben says “sociological trauma” women in Malta face because they are forced to keep abortions a secret
[WATCH] “Maltese women are having abortions, that’s the reality,” pro-choice activist says

Regardless of Malta’s perception of abortion, the inescapable reality is that “Maltese women are having abortions,” activist and social policy academic Andrea Dibben said.

Dibben said that despite the fact the majority of Maltese do not resonate with the call to legalise abortion, it was still important to highlight the struggles Maltese women face to due to the country’s strict abortion laws.

She was speaking to MaltaToday ahead of the first pro-choice rally that will be held on Saturday.

“Malta’s first Rally for Choice will serve to spread awareness of women’s struggles, as well as combating the stigma and taboo against women who choose to have an abortion. Through the #MyAbortionMyHealth tag, we are coming together as a global community to educate,” Dibben said.

Dibben said the event, which takes place on Saturday from 2pm onwards at Hastings Garden’s, is the first-time Malta will be participating in a global movement for International Safe Abortion Day.  

She highlighted that seven million women die every year because they do not have access to safe and legal abortions.

“While I have never heard of a case in Malta, where a woman has died due to a botched abortion – I have heard cases of women who suffer from health complications, which can follow them for the rest of their lives,” she said.

She is also concerned about the “sociological trauma” women in Malta face because they are forced to keep abortions a secret.

“There are some women that don’t feel comfortable telling their friends, or even family members. They end up travelling to foreign countries alone, with no moral support. Abortions can lead to cramping and bleeding – these women are in a vulnerable position and unfortunately have no one to turn to,” Dibben said.

She added: “Thankfully now the Abortion Support Network can offer support to these women – but it's not the same as having a family member there.”

Dibben said that Maltese women also face other hurdles, such as having to come up with excuses to take time off work, financial difficulties, as well as finding child-minders when asking family members is out of the question.

Dibben said that activities during the event will include a variety of art, music, drama, interviews and speeches which aim to appeal to a varied crowd including families, young people and adults. “We will also be joined by activists and academics from Ireland as well as Doctors for Choice, who will have a stand set up to hand-out information about safe abortion practices.”

She added that the rally was an indirect statement to the government. "The campaign’s main focus is on spreading awareness, but as a pro-choice group activists are constantly calling for the government to provide access to safe and legal abortions.

“The only way to do that is to decriminalise it,” she said, adding that the group strived “for a society based on equal respect and justice, free from discrimination for all genders and minority groups”.

The rally will be hosted by ‘Voice For Choice’ – Malta’s first-ever pro-choice coalition launched earlier this year in a bid to legalise abortion in Malta.

The NGO, which is made up of a wide spectrum of organisations and individuals consistently campaigns for the decriminalisation of abortion and advocating for laws which ensure that the health of pregnant people is protected in line with international human rights standards, through proper abortion care.

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