10,000 Pro-Life People Flood the Streets of Malta to Protest Bill to Legalize Abortion

International   |   Steven Ertelt, Micaiah Bilger   |   Dec 5, 2022   |   2:10PM   |   Washington, DC

Over the weekend, some ten thousand pro-life people in Malta participated in a one of the largest protests in recent years to express their opposition to a bill in parliament that would legalize abotions.

Led by former president Marie Louise Coleiro Preca, Malta’s top Catholic bishop and the leader of the conservative opposition, residents of the island nation say they want it to remain one of the only countries in Europe to protect babies from abortions.

“We are here to be the voice of the unborn child,” said 19-year-old university student Maria Formosa, one of the speakers at the rally. “Through abortion, life is always lost.”

A large picture of an unborn baby was placed outside the office of Malta’s prime minister on Sunday as demonstrators called on the government to withdraw the bill.

The Catholic bishops of Malta have joined a growing throng of opposition to a bill that could legalize the killing of unborn babies in abortions for basically any reason in the small European nation.

In a message last week, Malta Archbishop Charles Scicluna, Gozo Bishop Anton Teuma and Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Galea Curmi urged lawmakers to respect the dignity of every human being, born and unborn, Malta Today reports.

“When respect for the dignity of the baby in the womb is denied, the foundation of respect for the dignity of each human being – including that of the woman and the professional – is destroyed,” they said.

Echoing concerns from doctors, ethicists, pro-life leaders and others, the bishops said the broad “health” exception in the bill is a big problem because it will allow unborn babies to be aborted when the mother’s life is not at risk.

Malta is one of the few countries in Europe that protects unborn babies’ right to life. Abortions are legal only if the mother’s life is at risk. This fall, MPs introduced a bill to make the law even more clear that doctors may perform abortions to save a mother’s life, but many say the language is too broad and elective abortions also would be allowed.

ACTION ALERT: To oppose this pro-abortion bill, Contact lawmakers in Malta.

The bishops said the law already allows doctors to save pregnant mothers’ lives, including in situations when her unborn baby cannot be saved, so the bill is unnecessary, according to the report.

“… when they are not successful in saving both of them, they save the mother,” the bishops said. “Whenever this has happened over the years, legal problems were never created for the mothers or the doctors. There was no need for the law to be changed for the mother to be saved were she in danger of dying.”

The Catholic leaders also reminded lawmakers that they have a responsibility to protect life in Malta.

“We also make a special appeal to those who bear the great responsibility of taking a decision regarding the amendment, so that their choice will be in favour of life and not in favour of death,” they said. “We beseech our Mother Mary, Immaculate Conception, who always reminds us of life that starts from conception, to intercede for us and to help us always protect each human life with great care.”

Last week, Parliament passed the first reading of the bill, and a final vote could occur before Dec. 19, the start of Christmas break. To become law, legislation must pass three readings and then receive the president’s signature.

However, opposition to the bill is growing. Earlier this week, more than 450 doctors signed a petition calling on Parliament to amend the bill and stop Malta from opening “the door for legal abortion” on demand, Newsbook reports.

They urged Malta citizens to sign the petition, too. Written by 80 leading medical professionals, lawyers, ethicists and academics, it proposes amending the bill to ensure that Malta remains “limited to the current policy where doctors can always act to save the life of the mother, even if this results in the undesired death of the baby.”

To date, more than 21,600 people have signed the petition.

The nurses and midwives union MUMN in Malta also opposes the bill as written, and requested an urgent meeting with the prime minister this week to discuss it, according to the Times of Malta.

Prime Minister Robert Abela and Health Minister/Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne support the bill, asserting that it will not be as expansive as pro-life advocates say.

However, President George Vella, a medical doctor by profession, opposes it. He reportedly told people close to him that he would resign rather than be forced to sign a bill that legalizes the killing of unborn babies.

Malta pro-life leaders are organizing a national protest at 3 p.m. Sunday at Castille Square in Valletta.

The small island country has resisted international pressure to legalize abortion for years. Abortions are illegal in almost all cases in Poland, but Malta is the only European country that fully protects unborn babies from abortion.

Until recently, a number of European countries protected unborn babies by prohibiting abortions. However, Ireland abandoned its pro-life laws in 2018 and Northern Ireland was forced to legalize abortion 2019 by the British Parliament.

ACTION ALERT: To oppose this pro-abortion bill, Contact lawmakers in Malta.