A group of NGOs has filed a judicial protest calling for the immediate decriminalisation and legalisation of abortion in Malta.

The protest was filed on Wednesday against the health minister and the parliamentary secretary for equality. 

Speaking outside the law courts, lawyer Lara Dimitrijevic explained that current legislation discriminated against people who can get pregnant and precluded them from making choices in their private lives. The law was also discriminatory on the basis of gender and constituted inhuman and degrading treatment of people, she argued. 

Activist Andrea Dibben said that the protest was filed on behalf of 188 people of childbearing age, all of whom could potentially get pregnant.

“Abortion bans do not change the fact that abortion is a necessary health service and banning abortion does not stop it from happening,” Dibben said. 

“In fact, as we know all too well, every day, a woman in Malta has an abortion, yet we remain the only nation in the EU that criminalises these women and does not allow the procedure to take place safely and legally, irrespective of the circumstances.”

“This blatant violation of human rights by the state comes at the cost of women’s physical, mental, and social health as women continue to live in fear, stigma, and shame in our society.”

Highlighting that the signatories were normal people who came from all walks of life, she said that some of the signatories of the protest were people who had an abortion, endured forced pregnancy or even mothers who wanted a better future for their own children. 

Malta had made great strides to become a more inclusive society, Dibben continued, and it was high time that women who could get pregnant and needed to terminate that pregnancy were no longer treated like second-class citizens. 

“The political class of this country had every chance to do what is right and our pleas have been ignored for too long,” she said.

“We are pledging today that this judicial protest is only the first step. We are ready to take our battle to the courts of law, both local and European, and we will be heard. We will not be ignored. Not anymore.”

The action was endorsed by the Aditus Foundation, Doctors for Choice Malta, Integra Foundation, Moviment Graffitti, Malta Humanist Association, Men Against Violence, Parents for Choice and Young Progressive Beings.

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