Malta, Ireland, and “abducting a foetus”

There’s an interesting column in the Malta Independent about opposition to an attempt to take Malta down the Irish route to banning abortion.   Daphne Caruana Galizia reminds us of what happened in the case of Girl X following the passage of the 1983 anti-abortion amendment (Article 40.3.3) to the Irish constitution.   Raped by a neighbor, the girl was detained, by order of a court, in her own home to ensure that she did not, as she intended, get onto the boat to England to have the pregnancy terminated.  In the end, she had a miscarriage, and Ireland was shocked into enough commonsense to amend the constitution again to stop that kind of nonsense.

A June 2007 TNS/MRBI poll found that 43% of Irish people supported legal abortion if a woman believed it was in her best interest while 51% remained opposed. 82% favoured legalization for cases when the woman’s life is in danger, 75% when the fetus cannot survive outside the womb, and 73% when the pregnancy has resulted from sexual abuse (Wikipedia).  So 24 years after the Irish constitutional amendment, the vast majority of the Irish public supported abortion on lines roughly equivalent to the liberal UK laws, and a bare 51% majority oppose Roe v. Wade-style abortion on demand.  The Irish politicians haven’t yet caught up with public opinion, sadly, and a repeal of the amendment seems unlikely to happen soon.

Some organization called Gift of Life, in a campaign led by Paul Vincenti and Tony Mifsud, is apparently trying to take Malta down the same road.  Understandably they’re getting a pretty rough ride.  Mifsud’s choice of rhetoric,  accusing women leaving Malta to have an abortion in Italy or England of “abducting a foetus”, is not helping his case.  Fortunately for the women of Ireland and Malta, countries with close ties to both countries permit their citizens free entry and exit and provide abortions.

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