[WATCH] ‘My kids changed my mind’: Farrugia will take abortion Bill further

Xtra on TVM | Independent MP Marlene Farrugia pledges to pursue the issue of abortion beyond simple decriminalisation

Independent MP Marlene Farrugia
Independent MP Marlene Farrugia

Marlene Farrrugia says it was her children who inspired her to present a Bill to decriminalise abortion, promsing that her campaign will not end here.

The independent MP insisted on TVM's Xtra on Thursday that abortion is a reality in Malta and criminalising women who resorted to it will not solve the problem.

Asked how she came about to propose this Bill - a historic first - given her conservative stand in the past, Farrugia said it was her children who inspired her.

"After discussing the issue with them and others, I came to appreciate the basic fact that if something is not done, there will continue to be situations where women will undergo unsafe abortions because they feel they have no choice," Farrugia said.

Last month, Farrugia presented a private member's Bill to decriminalise abortion in a move that came as a bolt in the blue. Malta outlaws abortion in all cricumstances, making it one of a few countries in the world with an outright ban on the termination of pregnancies.

"After discussions with various individuals, research and analysis, it became crystal clear to me that condemning abortion and criminalising abortion will not solve the problem – it's not going to solve it for women, and it most certainly isn't going to solve it for children," she said.   

READ ALSO: Marlene Farrugia presents abortion decriminalisation bill in historic first

Farrugia added that services offered to women in terms of prevention had to be strengthened. "I am in favour of life; I have always been and will continue to be. But to work towards reducing the need for a woman to have an abortion, we need to understand and address the reason why a woman makes that choice in the first place. This means more education and better preventive services for women."

With this Bill, the MP also said that she wanted to remove the stigma and taboo on the subject. She added that the fight will not stop with the Bill and promised that she is willing to put forward legislation that addresses the issue of abortion, and other issues pertaining to women's health. "There is not a shadow of a doubt in my mind… I am ready to fight," she said.

Lara Dimitrijevic
Lara Dimitrijevic

Women's rights activist and lawyer Lara Dimitrijevic added that the legislation in place targets the mother. "The reality is women are continuing to have abortions," Dimitrijevic pointed out.

"The Bill Marlene presented highlights this reality. Our position remains unchanged; abortion is a medical issue, which needs to be discussed – what I won't accept is political parties merely discarding this Bill, that is unacceptable," Dimitrijevic said. 

Miriam Sciberras
Miriam Sciberras

Miriam Sciberras of Life Network Foundation Malta defended the existing law since it gave value to the life of the embryo. "It is not true that there is such a thing as a safe abortion for the mother," Sciberras said. She maintained that abortion had long-lasting negative effects on the mother and the rest of the family.

"I think as a society we should not accept this. What we should do is continue to strengthen services that support the mother so that abortions are not needed," Sciberras said.