The nurses' and midwives' union has raised concern over the bill on the termination of pregnancies, claiming mental health diagnosis is subject to personal opinion.

MUMN Paul Pace told Times of Malta the union did not want midwives and nurses to be taken advantage of in situations where a request for the termination of pregnancy is made on grounds of mental health issues. 

The union is calling for an urgent meeting with the prime minister over the matter, urging for the right to conscientious objections.

Pace also noted nurses and midwives are concerned that the proposed amendment is open-ended, and could allow abortion at any time during the pregnancy, even in the third trimester.

"Midwives and nurses should be involved in the medical process that leads to the decision whether to terminate a pregnancy or not," he insisted. 

Robert Abela and Health Minister Chris Fearne have argued the amendments will simply codify an unofficial long-standing practice among doctors at Mater Dei Hospital into law.

The bill was on Tuesday welcomed by 108 MEPs, mostly from the socialist group and the greens, who described it as “an important first step” and said it would allow “life-saving terminations”.

However, the Nationalist Party and the pro-life movement, which includes former president Marie Louise Coleiro Preca, 44 organisations and almost 80 academics, have opposed the changes.

MUMN said on Wednesday it had requested an urgent meeting with Abela and Fearne. Nurses and midwives, the union said, were major stakeholders in providing care and their concerns needed to be addressed before the bill became law.

"Abortion is a highly ethical subject which concerns the morality of the person. The bill requires wording that truly safeguards the mother in life-threatening situations but also the rights of the unborn child.

"Steamrolling by ignoring the stakeholders who have to assist in such procedures should not be used by any politician let alone the office of the Prime Minister," the union said.

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