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26 / 03 / 2008 - Malta - Women reject Council of Europe’s call for abortion
A Council of Europe (CoE) draft resolution calling on all states to allow women freedom of choice in the matter of abortion has been rejected by women's representatives in Malta.
The CoE resolution, presented by the Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men, last week called on member states, including Malta, to decriminalise abortion if they have not already done so.
The report states that women must be offered the conditions of a free and enlightened choice. It invites member states to lift restrictions which hinder access to safe abortion by creating the appropriate conditions for health, medical and psychological care and offering suitable financial cover.
The report is to be discussed during a plenary session between April 14 and 18 but, as with all other CoE resolutions, would not be legally binding if approved.
Asked for its reaction, the Council of Women argued that the right of the unborn child should come first and foremost.
Grace Attard, a member on the executive of the Council of Women and on the European Economic and Social Committee, said yesterday that the Council of Women was utterly against abortion.
The right of the unborn child, she said, should come before that of the mother since there is nobody to protect that child and it is the mother's role to do so.
She pointed out that Malta had a political agreement with the European Union not to legalise abortion and this was practically a non-issue in Malta.
Ms Attard said that some, including the CoE report, argued that where abortion was not legal, it was more risky for women to abort because they had to do so clandestinely and not necessarily in adequate conditions.
However, she argued that one did not legalise something that was wrong to curb abuse. One addressed that abuse.
Ms Attard said it was better to help women in such situations by strengthening support services. She also pointed out that there were a number of countries that were revising their abortion legislation to restrict it.
Maria Attard, director of the Ġużeppa Debono Home in Gozo, a support home for unmarried mothers, argued that a lot of clandestine abortions took place even in countries where abortion was legal.
This could be because of number of factors, including that one may not be able to afford abortion or because of one's family set-up.
She warned that by making something legal, a government could be introducing a new form of culture. Certain people might not realise the importance of life and abortion could also be detrimental to the country and to European society, where the birth rate was shrinking partly due to abortions. If abortion was legal, the director said, there could be women who might not seek advice and others who would not be given it.
When something like abortion was easy to obtain, she argued, the value of life was lost. The Ġużeppa Debono Home was absolutely against the report and it believed that member states should be allowed the freedom to take their own decisions.
Gift of Life, a pro-life organisation, said it found unacceptable any pressure by other countries for abortion to be legalised in Malta.
"This is the clearest attempt yet at international bullying of another sovereign country. It drives home the importance of acting soon to provide our unborn children with the right to life through the Constitution of Malta."
The report, Gift of Life said, was a shameful attempt by members of the council to demonise any state or person objecting to abortion, even if their position was based upon sound pro-life values and documented scientific facts.
"It is all the more detestable as the Council of Europe are supposed to champion human rights yet are calling for member countries to allow laws that clearly contradict the very nature of our humanity."
Gift of Life pointed out that while the line-up of professional advisors to the council included a wide range of pro-abortion experts, no pro-life group was invited to give testimony.
Source : The Times of Malta