The discourse about abortion has been receiving more and more coverage within the past few years, especially due to the growing number of organisations that are calling for reforms to the archaic and restrictive local laws which outlaw abortion in all cases. Organisations such as Doctors for Choice, Women’s Rights Foundation, and Moviment Graffitti as well as several other partners in the Voice for Choice Coalition have been calling for reforms to give women autonomy over their own bodies, as well as addressing the many issues surrounding access to contraceptives and also promoting comprehensive sexual education in our schools.
So why start another pro-choice group? As students, we believe that the current discourse lacks the input of those who will be living with the consequences of today’s laws for years to come. Today’s students are tomorrow’s future, so how can we be trusted with the future when our opinion is not being heard today? Our aim is to act as a bullhorn for students who may find themselves unable to voice their opinions due to the social stigma surrounding these topics.
So why be pro-choice in the first place? Every human has basic inalienable rights that must be afforded to them without discrimination in order for them to thrive and prosper. One of these rights is that of bodily autonomy i.e. the right for people to decide for themselves what happens to their own bodies. Although it should be afforded to every person, women are often robbed from this essential right through laws which dictate what they can and cannot do with their body. For example, pregnant persons with a fatal fetal anomaly are forced to give birth through the current blanket ban on abortion under any circumstance. There are also restrictions on obtaining contraceptive methods, such as the unavailability of the morning-after pill in a lot of pharmacies, that allow women the power to plan their future.
Unfortunately, the local situation is such that complete ban on abortion applies even if the woman’s life is in danger (and criminalises them if they commit an abortion). This infringes on their human rights, greatly undermines their lives, affords them lesser rights than their male counterparts and essentially classifies them as second class citizens. In addition, the social stigma associated with unplanned pregnancies in the local culture, as well as the struggles it imposes on women often results in women sacrificing their aspirations and goals to continue with a pregnancy that they may not have consented to in the first place.
As students we are expected to learn from professionals to gain a holistic view of our discipline, and translate that knowledge into real life actions. We believe that as students we should be at the forefront of advocating for basic human rights including comprehensive sexual education, freely accessible contraception and abortion. We call on those who have the power to change laws to preserve the rights of all who live in Malta. Please consider joining Students for Choice and help us reach our goal.