Let’s get down to the nitty gritty.
Malta is the only country left that still holds the abortion ban out of 27 other countries that form the EU.
I believe it to be of extreme importance for women to be able to have the choice what to do with their own bodies and lives. This includes being able to decide whether they want to go through the nine months of pregnancy and welcome the changes their bodies will face; and whether they want to keep the child. Many factors need to be taken into consideration when bringing a child into this world; such as the economic possibility to take care of a child in that moment, finances for all involved and simply just the responsibility of having to raise a person.
Whatever the reason, if they want an abortion, Maltese women residing in Malta would not be able to get one in their home country, as it is currently illegal, and therefore would have to travel to Italy, England or Belgium (as the most common destinations) to be able to access what should be considered basic healthcare. Currently, abortion in Malta is granted solely in cases where the mother’s life is at risk.
This year during the pandemic, in Malta there was a rise in women requesting help from the Abortion Support Network. Last year 75 women had requested for an abortion, whilst this year the numbers went up to 87. The founder of this NGO, Mara Clarke, also stated that regardless of the abortion ban more than 50% of the women still went through with the abortion.
Furthermore, According to WHO, approximately 10 million unintended pregnancies occur each year among teenage girls aged 15-19 years. Approximately 5.6million abortions occur each year among young girls and 3.9million of these are unsafe; leading to maternal mortality, morbidity and lasting health problems. Moreover, girls aged between 10 to 19 years face a higher risk of systemic infections and eclampsia, when compared to women aged 20 to 24 years. This statistic shows that the result of an unwanted pregnancy and being denied a wanted abortion may have negative developmental and socioeconomic consequences for the existing children of said women.
Moreover there are medical and psychological issues that come with abortion. This can be seen in the fact that when it comes to teenage childbearing, girls under the age of 15 are at a much higher risk of death; as well as many other problems such as insomnia, pregnancy-induced hypertension and STDs. But a young mother is not the only one being at risk: the child she will eventually give birth to is at an even higher risk. The problems faced will be such as low birthweight and/or a very early death (in the first 28 days of life). Studies have also shown that unwanted pregnancies may result in neglection from the mother, addiction and an overall unloving behaviour towards the child.
Malta should move forward and legalise abortion completely. Women need to be able to decide when and if they want to become mothers in their own time whilst still being allowed the right to enjoy their sexual life without having to think about the fact that they might end up sealing their fate for the next 20 years minimum, with a child that needs them.