Women’s rights groups in Malta intensify campaign to legalize abortion

Currently, Malta remains the only country in the European Union with a total ban on abortions. As a result, hundreds of women are forced to travel abroad to access abortions each year

June 17, 2022 by Peoples Dispatch
Women's Protest - Malta
Mobilization demanding legalization of abortions in Malta. (Photo: via Lara Dimitrijevic)

Women’s rights groups and other progressive sections in Malta, under the platform ‘Voice for Choice’, have intensified their campaign against the ban on abortions in the country and are demanding an end to criminalization of the procedure. On Wednesday, June 15, under the leadership of various women’s right groups including the Women’s Rights Foundation, a demonstration was organized in front of the court house where a petition was submitted calling for the removal of the ban on abortions.

On behalf of 188 women, the Women Rights Foundation submitted a petition demanding the Health Minister, the Parliamentary Secretary for Equality and Reforms, and the State Advocate legalize abortion and decriminalize the procedure. Various groups including the Aditus Foundation, Doctors for Choice Malta, Integra Foundation, Graffiti Movement, Malta Humanist Association, Men Against Violence, Parents for Choice, and Young Progressive Beings, among others, expressed support and solidarity to the Maltese women’s fight to legalize abortions.

Currently, Malta remains the only county in European Union (EU) with a total ban on abortions. Malta has one of the strictest anti-abortion laws and makes the act a criminal offense. As a result, hundreds of women are forced to travel abroad to access abortions each year. Former independent Member of Parliament (MP) Marlene Farrugia pushed a proposal to legalize abortion in the last legislature but it was stalled. 

In a statement on Wednesday, the European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual and Reprodutive Rights (EPF) expressed solidarity with the pro-choice protesters in Malta. In their statement, the EPF said, “we consider access to legal, safe and affordable abortion along with other reproductive health services is critical to protecting not just women’s’ rights but also their lives.”

Prior to the mobilization in front of the court on Wednesday, the Women Rights Foundation stated, “today we are assisting 188 women, trans, and non-binary individuals who want legal action against the Maltese state for denying them access to safe, legal abortion. The legal action, intended to go to the European Court of Human Rights if necessary, aims to overturn Malta’s complete ban on abortion that infringes the human rights of people in Malta.”

“Over the past years, Malta has made great strides in being a more inclusive society. The current government prides itself on this fact. So it’s time to address abortion-related laws to reflect the reality of current life. Women, girls and any person who may become pregnant who needs to terminate the pregnancy for any reason are not second-class citizens,” the group added.