The time has come to le­galise abor­tion

It has been sev­eral months now since the morn­ing-af­ter pill was fi­nally li­censed for sale in Malta. I use the word li­censed be­cause it was al­ways le­gal in other forms and dosages, it just wasn’t li­censed in that spe­cific dose and for that spe­cific pur­pose

The Malta Independent on Sunday - - DEBATE & ANALYSIS - Alice Tay­lor

Af­ter this mile­stone, all of us knew that it would only be a mat­ter of time be­fore the highly con­tro­ver­sial is­sue of abor­tion reared its head. This week, mem­bers of the Na­tional Youth Par­lia­ment called for an opened di­a­logue and con­sul­ta­tion on the topic of abor­tion – and about time too. Along­side ask­ing for dis­cus­sion on abor­tion, they also ex­pressed the de­sire to ban the show­ing of a film known as “The Silent Scream”, which is shown to 14-year-olds in schools. This film is an ut­terly vile piece of pro­pa­ganda which seeks to shock, scare, and dis­gust chil­dren as well as ma­nip­u­late their opin­ions and emo­tions through what we would now call “fake news”.

To quote one of the favourite sto­ries of the Pro-Life brigade from Matthew Chap­ter 7: “Stop judg­ing, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the mea­sure with which you mea­sure will be mea­sured out to you. You hyp­ocrite, re­move the wooden beam from your eye first, then you will see clearly to re­move the splin­ter from your brother’s eye.”

Of course, you can imag­ine that this was met with the usual ca­coph­ony of ir­ra­tional­ity. Cries of “baby mur­derer” and other in­sults and threats that I can­not re­peat here. The ex­treme lev­els of ut­ter hypocrisy ex­hib­ited by these ex­trem­ist in their ruth­less ef­fort to stamp out any men­tion of abor­tion is ut­terly breath­tak­ing. The most fun­da­men­tally hyp­o­crit­i­cal as­pect of it is the vo­cif­er­ous es­pousal of the idea that all hu­man life is sa­cred from the mo­ment of con­cep­tion, while si­mul­ta­ne­ously show­ing hor­rif­i­cally cal­lous lev­els of in­dif­fer­ence to hu­man life, once it has taken its first breath out­side the womb.

In my mind, there is not a more ex­treme ex­am­ple of to­tal hypocrisy than “right-to-lifers” who scream from the rooftops that life is sa­cred, but do not care about a) the life of the woman and b) the life of the be­ing once it has been born. En­cour­aged by hate-spew­ing pub­lic fig­ures (you know who you are) and per­haps the big­gest hyp­ocrites of them all, re­li­gious lead­ers – their de­ranged and anger filled dis­ci­ples some­how seek to pro­vide jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for their cruel and of­ten vi­o­lent words.

But there is no jus­ti­fi­ca­tion. You can­not present your­self as a guardian of hu­man life, as a voice for the de­fence­less, and as a cham­pion of stand­ing up for the rights of the un­born, yet at the same time refuse to ac­knowl­edge life-threat­en­ing sit­u­a­tions that may af­fect the mother, or threaten vi­o­lence to peo­ple who ad­vo­cate for pro­choice. These peo­ple harp on about life be­ing sa­cred yet these are the same peo­ple that send threats to peo­ple like me, the same peo­ple that com­ment that mi­grants should be sent home, or drowned at sea, and the same peo­ple who, no doubt, hap­pily drive their cars over the speed limit af­ter sev­eral Cisks.

It seems that life is only de­fend­able if it is foetal life be­cause once born, it ap­pears that it be­comes no longer sa­cred. These rad­i­cal hyp­ocrites are ready to with­hold abor­tion in the cases of rape, in­cest, or cases where the birth di­rectly threat­ens the life of the mother. Was the mother not once a foe­tus? Was she not once a mass of cells? So, you cared about her wel­fare at that point, but now she is in a lifethreat­en­ing sit­u­a­tion or has been vi­o­lated, you sud­denly do not care. It seems that dogged ad­her­ence to fac­tu­ally in­cor­rect and morally rep­re­hen­si­ble dogma far sur­passes any ca­pac­ity for logic or com­mon sense.

The fact of the mat­ter is that there is no one on this planet who has the right to in­trude upon a woman’s most in­ti­mate de­ci­sion re­gard­ing her own body, her wel­fare, the wel­fare of her foe­tus, and the well­be­ing of her fam­ily. You can­not judge some­one un­til you are in their shoes and to do so and to con­demn some­one be­cause of a choice they want to make is a vi­o­la­tion of their mind and their body.

Be­fore any proper de­bate on abor­tion is started in Malta, we need to put in place proper ed­u­ca­tion be­cause all I see in the news and on com­ments boards is gross mis­in­for­ma­tion on both sides. There is no un­der­stand­ing, no grasp, or no ef­fort to ed­u­cate peo­ple on the true facts. All we have is hys­ter­i­cal ram­blings from pro-life NGOs and the push­ing of fac­tu­ally in­cor­rect pro­pa­ganda in schools. We need to start with ed­u­cat­ing peo­ple on the sci­ence be­hind re­pro­duc­tion, as well as mak­ing some dras­tic changes to laws on sex­ual health.

May I sug­gest that the age of con­sent is low­ered to 16? If you think that there is a sin­gle young per­son on this planet that would be put off hav­ing sex­ual in­ter­course be­cause they have not reached the le­gal age limit yet, then I am sorry to break it to you but you are sorely mis­taken. All that low­er­ing the age limit will do is take away some of the stigma sur­round­ing it and al­low sex­u­ally ac­tive young­sters to feel com­fort­able enough to ap­proach their GP, teach­ers, or fam­ily mem­bers to dis­cuss sex­ual is­sues. Sec­ondly, con­tra­cep­tion should be free of charge in­clud­ing the morn­ing- af­ter pill. If you make it free and ac­ces­si­ble with­out hav­ing to an­swer 1000 ques­tions, be frowned upon, or have to fork out €20 a month, it may help re­duce the amount of ac­ci­den­tal preg­nan­cies.

Once proper, un­bi­ased sex ed­u­ca­tion has been started, once con­tra­cep­tion is more freely avail­able and once the stigma sur­round­ing sex has been re­duced, then it is time to le­galise the right of a woman to ter­mi­nate a foe­tus if it threat­ens her life, or if the preg­nancy is a re­sult of a vi­o­lent vi­o­la­tion of her body.

If you do not agree with this, then I sug­gest that you avoid hav­ing an abor­tion, but do not seek to im­pose your hypocrisy and ar­ro­gance onto some­one else whose sit­u­a­tion you could never, ever hope to un­der­stand. There are no ifs and no buts – the life of the woman far sur­passes the rights of some cells, and that will al­ways re­main the case. It is of­ten the case that an abor­tion is the lesser of two evils, and you have no right to con­demn any­one for tak­ing that de­ci­sion.

There is a small mi­nor­ity of rad­i­cal ex­trem­ists that are fight­ing hard to not only con­tinue the vi­o­la­tion and com­plete dis­re­gard of women’s rights, but that are seek­ing to keep this coun­try in the dark ages. Every step for­ward in other so­cial pol­icy areas is ham­pered by the voices of these hys­ter­i­cal few. Thank­fully, times are chang­ing and the younger gen­er­a­tion are able to think ra­tio­nally – and I say to the vast num­ber of you that are pro-choice in se­cret, don’t let these peo­ple in­tim­i­date you with their words, or ma­nip­u­late you with their pro­pa­ganda.

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