A group of doctors who campaign against abortion are concerned about a Labour Party pledge to revise Malta’s sexual health policy.
Doctors For Life said that the wording of the Labour Party pledge was unclear and could imply that the party intended to include abortion in its pledge to respect people’s “sexual and reproductive rights”.
Proposal number 506 in the Labour manifesto states that the party is committed to “publishing an updated sexual health policy as soon as possible. This policy should reflect modern-day realities when it comes to health and sexual and reproductive rights, in all their diversity. We will also create an action plan with targets, measures and clear deadlines to hold the government accountable for implementing this policy.”
In a statement on Saturday, Doctors for Life said it found the terminology used in the proposal concerning and urged Prime Minister and Labour leader Robert Abela to explain what the PL meant by “sexual and reproductive rights” and to “categorically exclude abortion from this definition”.
“In the absence of the above, Doctors for Life will have to assume that proposal 506 does in fact include the provision of abortion,” it said.
Malta's current sexual health policy was published in 2010. Work to revise it began some years ago but was unceremoniously scrapped late last year after it was discovered that research it was based on was 12 years old.
The organisation said that it would remain politically neutral and non-aligned with any party, but that it would then be “advising the electorate” that supporting proposal 506 of the Labour manifesto in its current form “may be endorsing the future legalisation of abortion.”
Abela has said that he is against abortion but that debate about the matter should not be politicised. He recently expressed anger about a fringe political party, ABBA, reporting pro-choice activists to the police.
PN leader Bernard Grech is staunchly opposed to abortion and has shot down any suggestion of discussing its legalisation within his party.
ADPD wants to decriminalise women who seek an abortion and demanded legal clarity but has not spoken out whether abortion should be legalised, with Volt Malta candidates being the only ones calling for anti-abortion laws to be struck off and replaced with laws allowing abortions within the first trimester of pregnancy.
Correction March 19: A previous version misstated ADPD's position on abortion.