Updated 7.05pm, adds Pro-Life Coalition statement

Chris Fearne expects the so-called abortion bill amendments to have gone through all parliamentary stages by the summer recess.

The government's proposed amendments to the criminal code - that will allow for abortions to be carried out in specific circumstances - had been given a second reading last year. 

However, the government then reviewed these same amendments following discussions with stakeholders. 

Fielding questions from the media following a press conference, the Health Minister told Times of Malta on Wednesday that the government was currently finalising the reviewed amendments before they go to committee stage.

Video: Jonathan Borg

In February, Fearne had said the reviewed amendments would be published within a few weeks, following consultation with stakeholders.

The government felt the need to introduce the amendments after 38-year-old Andrea Prudente was denied a request for abortion in Malta after suffering the symptoms of a miscarriage. 

Doctors had refused to intervene, waiting for her to miscarry naturally, for the baby's heartbeat to stop or "for her to have a life-threatening infection" that would spur them to act, Prudente’s husband later said.

Currently, the amendment says no offence shall be committed "when the termination of a pregnancy results from a medical intervention aimed at protecting the health of a pregnant woman suffering from a medical complication which may put her life at risk or health in grave jeopardy". 

The inclusion of “health in grave jeopardy” has been the main point of contention among the Nationalist Party and other opponents to the bill, who claim that the wording will lead to the legalisation of abortion. 

Pro-life coalition says it was not been consulted

In a statement, the coalition of anti-abortion and pro-life organisations in Malta, which said has more than 70,000 members, said it was not true it had been consulted by the government even though it had formally requested to meet and talk.

It said it was clear that the government had spoken just to small groups all of which agreed with the government, which lacked the electoral mandate to introduce abortion.

The coalition reiterated its call to be consulted.


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