By Jonathon Van Maren
Last June, I interviewed Dr. Miriam Sciberras of the Life Network Foundation Malta in this space on the ongoing pressure faced by the Maltese government to legalize abortion. With a pro-life prime minister and a pro-life president — Dr. George Vella — who both stated that they will not sign any abortion legislation as long as they are in office, it seemed unlikely at the time that any real political threat to the pro-life regime was imminent.
But on May 12, independent Member of Parliament Marlene Farrugia made global headlines by putting forward a bill that would decriminalize abortion, a first step towards legalization. Malta is the only nation in the European Union to completely ban abortion, and abortion activists such as Lara Dimitrijevic of the Women’s Rights Foundation called Farrugia’s bill “a very important first step.”
Farrugia’s proposal — which involves striking three articles from the Maltese Criminal Code, including the prohibition on “procuring a miscarriage” as well as penalties for doctors performing abortions — shocked parliamentarians, and “triggered a ripple of muttering from stunned MPs,” according to one Maltese media outlet. It appears, however, that Farrugia had coordinated her efforts with abortion activists, who had already gathered outside parliament with banners reading “Trust Women” and “Abortion is already in Malta.” A pro-abortion social media campaign was promptly launched, as well. Not everyone was surprised.