Alfred Sant calls for open debate on abortion

Labour MEP Alfred Sant says it is hypocritical to project people in favour of abortion as heartless but insists issue should be resolved nationally without EU pressure

Labour MEP Alfred Sant
Labour MEP Alfred Sant

Alfred Sant has called for an open debate on abortion and reiterated his belief that women have a right to make their own decisions on the matter.

The Labour MEP said it made no sense and was “hypocritical” to project people in favour of abortion as heartless or amoral.

However, the former prime minister insisted that any decisions on abortion should be left up to individual countries to make without EU pressure.

Sant was explaining his abstention on the European Parliament resolution that approved the Matić report on sexual and reproductive rights, including abortion. The resolution is non-binding since the EU has no competence on the matter.

Sant expressed his support for the principles upheld in the Matić report but said complex issues like abortion should be for the individual communities to decide.

“The inalienable rights of all women to bodily integrity and autonomous decision-making should be universally recognised,” he said, adding however, that the complex dilemmas that abortion issues raise should be resolved by communities following an open and tolerant debate. 

“The debate should respect prevalent cultural and behavioural norms but not let them override inalienable rights. It should be carried out on a national basis. The EU should have little to no say in such matters which is why I abstained on the final vote,” Sant said.

He insisted that Malta implemented the most radical changes in favour of LGTBIQ rights without any EU pressures. “So, let it be with abortion,” Sant told the European Parliament.

The Matić report was approved by the EP but Labour MEP Cyrus Engerer was the only Maltese representative who voted in favour.

Sant and fellow Labour MEP Josianne Cutajar abstained, while Labour’s Alex Agius Saliba and Nationalist MEPs Roberta Metsola and David Casa voted against.

Malta is the only EU country where abortion is outlawed in all circumstances. Women in Malta who get an abortion and doctors who perform it face a potential prison sentence.

Nonetheless, hundreds of Maltese women every year travel to the UK and Italy to get abortions there, while there is an increasing trend of women purchasing abortive pills from abroad and bringing them over through the postal service.

Ewropej Funded by the European Union

This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

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