Parliamentary Secretary Deo Debattista called for the government to set up “pro-life clinics” to provide assistance and support to pregnant women who may be thinking of terminating their pregnancy overseas.
Debattista was speaking during debate on the financial estimates for the Embryo Protection Authority, which regulates assisted reproductive technology such as in-vitro fertilisation.
“Let us not stay in denial, around 60-80 women go overseas each year to terminate their pregnancy,” the parliamentary secretary said. The figures he quoted, as he himself pointed out, are statistics collected by England and Wales; no statistics are available for abortions Maltese women may seek elsewhere.
He said that he believed that to address this, the government should establish free pro-life clinics to provide pregnant women with support, noting that while it was easy for women to set up an appointment with an overseas clinic online, obtaining the help they need was more challenging.
“We have mothers who may be going through psychological, social and family troubles, so – perhaps because we are failing to provide enough support – choose to go abroad and take the decision,” Debattista said, having studiously avoided using the word ‘abortion’ during his address.
“I do not judge anyone. I am against it, but because I am, I believe that we should provide support and establish government-run pro-life clinics,” the parliamentary secretary said. Though he noted that a number of NGOs provided similar services, he felt that more support was needed.
“If we save one life, it would be worth it,” Debattista said.
Proposal endorsed by PN health spokesman
The parliamentary secretary himself noted that he was confident the Nationalist Party would back his call, and right on cue, his proposal was backed by the next MP to speak, PN health spokesman Stephen Spiteri.
The MP insisted that there should be consensus on the assertion that life began from conception, and stressed that he agreed with Debattista that more pro-life support services should be provided.
“While the opposite may take place in the rest of the world, let us be the country that provides support that promotes life.”