The Democratic Party has proposed “medically accelerating” unwanted pregnancies as an alternative to abortion, following confusion over a pledge seeking to enshrine the abortion ban in the Constitution.
“Our position as a party is to support a broad interpretation to the right to life while recognising that there are rare situations that need to be addressed with respect and humanity. I am referring to medical emergencies where the life of the mother or the unborn may be at stake,” PD leader Godfrey Farrugia said.
“There are also situations of unwanted pregnancies. We deal with these situations by offering an alternative where delivery is medically accelerated to limit the negative psychological impact on the mother,” he remarked.
Dr Farrugia, a medical doctor, said that under this proposal, the psychological state of a woman wishing to abort could be taken as a medical indicator for a pre-term delivery, allowing the child to be born as soon as it was viable and given up for adoption.
This alternative solution would reduce the number of women seeking abortions abroad and help prevent the “life-long regret” of many of those who opted for abortion, he added.
'Strange and poorly thought out'
However, the proposal raised eyebrows among some who questioned the safety and desirability of such an approach.
“Induction of pregnancies [delivery] at the cusp of viability is a strange and poorly thought-out alternative to comprehensive reproductive healthcare,” Alexander Clayman, from the new lobby group Doctors for Choice, told the Times of Malta.
“Pre-term deliveries are stressful for all parties involved and after-care [neonatal intensive care] is hugely costly both in terms of human and financial resources."
Dr Clayman noted that the survival rate of a fetus born at 24 weeks was only 36 per cent, and survival without disability just 22 per cent, and warned against advocating for women with unwanted pregnancies to deliver early and face such risks "while still forcing a woman to remain pregnant until 6 months of gestation".
Pre-term deliveries are stressful for all parties involved
“This does not strike me as a serious, evidence-based proposal. Politicians and medical professionals have a duty to be responsible when discussing health issues and, where possible, follow the best available evidence,” he said.
PD courted controversy earlier this week after signing a pledge spearheaded by the conservative Alleanza Bidla party to bring forward constitutional amendments aimed at protecting life “from conception”.
The Nationalist Party and Moviment Patrijotti Maltin also signed the pledge but Labour and Alternattiva Demokratika did not.
Dr Farrugia later said his support for the pledge had been “conditional” and meant as “a commitment to engage with all sectors of society”, adding he did not see a constitutional amendment in the form proposed as possible.
One of the PD’s candidates for the European elections, Cami Appelgren, announced after news of the pledge broke that she was not personally in favour of the declaration, which, she insisted, had been drafted by “patriarchal fundamentalists”.
Describing herself as “pro-prevention”, she said she would work to prevent women from ever being put in a situation where they felt they needed an abortion. However, she was not in favour of blanket bans on abortions.
PD founder Marlene Farrugia distanced herself “from the extremists and fundamentalists who came up with this senseless pledge”, which had “nothing to do with regard for human life but has everything to do with subordination of females”.
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