MaltaToday previous editions

MALTATODAY 15 August 2021

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 11 of 47

12 maltatoday | SUNDAY • 15 AUGUST 2021 NEWS THE Dear Decision Makers campaign compiled over 30 sto- ries from 30 women who have had an abortion and were subse- quently affected by Malta's total ban on abortion. The document, compiled by Laura Paris and Emily Galea in collaboration with Break the Taboo Malta, tells heart-wrenching and un- filtered stories of real women, and is tar- geted towards politicians. " T h e y are not s t a - t i s - tics, or 'one in a million' cases. They are not 'murderers' or 'immoral'. They are real people. They have names. They are hu- man beings in their own right, who, regardless of their rela- tion to others, deserve access to healthcare," the authors say. "When you read their stories, do not read them in isolation of their socially and legally con- structed predicament. These stories, undoubtedly, are a direct consequence of Malta's blanket ban on abortion. They are a re- sult of your complacency and complicity." From the stories submitted, four who needed an abortion were over the age of 40. 15% of women who needed ac- cess to abortion services were al- ready mothers. Furthermore, 7% of the stories submitted were teen pregnancies, of which more than half resulted from their first sexual encounter. 13% of the stories in- volved sexual violence, including rape, and 35% reported having an un- supportive or u n i n v o l v e d partner, of which 38% were reported to have an abusive partner. 28% of women also reported that the blanket ban on abor- tion had severely impacted their mental health, with nearly half, 47% of women reporting to have had pregnancy-related suicidal thoughts. Authors Laura Paris and Emi- ly Galea say the human right to bodily autonomy in Malta wisas lost the moment a person be- comes pregnant. "Despite be- ing a living, fully actualised hu- man-being, it is not uncommon for such individuals to be treated as lesser than their own pregnan- cies." 63% of women who recounted their stories said they travelled overseas, while 37% said they did so illegally in Malta. 15% of women said that they used unsafe methods such as ex- cessive drinking, abuse of drugs, and self-harm to induce an abor- tion. AGE OF EXPERIENCE: 42 YEAR: 2005 LOCALITY: Qormi I chose to have an abortion because I had a one-night stand with a chef that I had worked with for two years. I was 1 month pregnant when I found out and when I approached him to explain what happened, he refused to help me in any way, even just to acknowl- edge the baby only on paper. He bluntly told me, "Sorry, you have to be a single mother, because I cannot help you, I have no mon- ey". I also did not want to put the burden on my parents since I was at university at the time, so I de- cided to opt for an abortion. In my second month I headed to Brussels for the procedure, with everyone thinking I was go- ing on holiday. The procedure was done under local anaesthet- ic, as per the clinic's recommen- dation, which was quite traumat- ic. Having to return home alone the next day with heavy travel- ling bags was not ideal, and stay- ing alone in silence on my return, pretending that everything was okay, was tougher. I guess part of you remains dead due to all these hidden agendas, and unless you can discuss this openly with peo- ple who are not judgmental, you will never be yourself. Going alone to have a proce- dure, not knowing if something is going to happen and no one knows w h a t you're doing is already crazy enough; not to mention hiding essential things from your loved ones, and having to listen to people judg- ing only the woman, when in my case the man just walked away scot-free and continued living his life like nothing ever hap- pened. These are all scenarios that no one is looking into. AGE OF EXPERIENCE: 16 YEAR: N/A LOCALITY: N/A I grew up in a very religious family, attended a church school, and had very strong Catholic be- liefs. It was either black or white; right or wrong. There was no in-between. When I was 16 years old, I was raped by someone who knew I was a virgin; it was almost like a challenge for him to "conquer me". I was not on any kind of contraceptive protec- tion, because being 16 and a virgin, there was no need. He followed me home to make sure I didn't go to hospi- Why I had an abortion: the real stories behind the women Compiled by Laura Calleja "I've never wanted to be a mother, especially at 17, and my pregnancy happened as a result of failed contraception. I just wanted to be a normal teenager, finish school and go to university...."

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of MaltaToday previous editions - MALTATODAY 15 August 2021