“Our mission is to listen, help and save lives without judgement.” This is how Bernice Micallef and Vivienne Cassar described their work at Lifeline Malta. This program is one of multiple services offered by the Life Network Foundation, a pro-life organisation which defines itself as ‘giving women choices other than termination’ as Bernice and Vivienne explained.
The two representatives of Life Line Malta, spoke of the harrowing stories of the various number of women who call them in need of support. “One woman, with whom we had lost contact, called us just after she’d had an abortion, repeating ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry’ and, as our mission is pro-life, our job was to help her” said Bernice.
In similar cases, Vivienne Cassar explained, their job “is to save life” so, at that moment, the focus is on giving support to the woman who has just gone through this traumatic experience.
Life Line Malta is a service given by the Life Network Malta as a platform for women who find themselves facing an unplanned and potentially unwanted pregnancy to be able to discuss alternatives to abortion. As explained during the interview on FOLLOW UP on RTK 103FM, the support method is to listen to the stories coming in and discuss the particular difficulties being faced by the women in order “to give her more opportunities”.
What about non-Catholics?
The representatives explained that “the reality of abortion touches every family irrelevant of belief” and religion does not feature in the discussions with the clients. Bernice explained that it is important to start at the premise that they are not here to judge anyone who “has thought about, is thinking about, or has already had an abortion.” She added that Life Line is there because they feel the need to not let people go through the entire ordeal without support or lack of opportunities.
Many stories start with “I don’t have a choice”, with variations including not having help, support or even were entirely alone. “Life Network offers this support so that these people in these difficult situations, and when pregnancy isn’t joyous news, have the support they need,” the interviewees explained.
It was pointed out by the interviewer that, if one is pregnant and doesn’t want to be, then they’re not exactly going to call Life Line Malta and ask for directions on how to terminate the pregnancy. Vivienne explained, in reaction, that when people call the agency, then their mind is not yet made up and their job then is to make sure that the discussion is specifically about the difficulties of the situation. Bernice then continued to say that even if women cannot even think of being mothers, then they will help to, if possible, keep the child throughout pregnancy and then consider fostering or adoption, rather than terminating.
The ‘pro-choice’ argument
Bernice explained that her particular issue with the notion of being ‘pro-choice’ is that the choice of the weaker individual in the picture is not being taken into consideration. According to the speaker, when we consider this argument, then we are saying that the voice of the strong adult against the unheard voice of the unborn child, who is considered another person with equal opportunities for life.
However, if it does happen that someone has undergone an abortion and calls in for support, then the responsibility of preserving all life from beginning to end then leads Life Line to support the women and even men who have been affected negatively by the experience. It was said that the Save One Programme is not only for women, but for men who, in some way or another, were in a position wherein they feel complicit in an abortion that they themselves did not actually approve of.
She mentioned that examples of men needing support came in the form of men who paid for a procedure after their partners take the decision alone despite their personal feelings about terminating pregnancy. In some cases, even if the decision was taken by both people in the relationship, guilt can be hard to deal with for both of them too.