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  • Writer's pictureWomens Rights Foundation

What are you afraid of? - Lara Dimitrijevic and Andreana Dibben

Updated: Jan 7, 2018

It must be a wonderful experience living in the world of absolute moral certainty. There is black and there is white, there is good and there is evil, with no shades of grey or anything else in between.  It must feel even better being in a position, as one of the most respected, long-standing media institution in the country, to dish out your moral superiority on the less fortunate.

The Times of Malta editorial does this on a regular basis by lending its pages to like-minded morally certain people or, as happened on November 22, by means of a media organisation’s ultimate tool – its editorial.

This editorial takes Women’s Rights Foundation to task, yet again, for opposing the indoctrination of children in our schools and presenting them with false information and for daring to suggest that there is anything to discuss on the ‘new fad’ of reproductive rights, terming such discussion as a “camouflage for abortion”.

We are also told that having an opinion “does not give a right to murder the most innocent”. We, an organisation concerned with rights, are reminded there is no right to choose between a life of one ‘child’ and another.

Incredibly, yet not surprisingly, considering that the Times of Malta’s editors consist of men only, they managed to pen their editorial diatribe without once mentioning the word woman (save for the name of the foundation and our statement on women’s rights).

It is not surprising that men of certain status in society cannot see their privilege and are totally oblivious to the plight of those who do not enjoy such privilege, but rarely do we see it flaunted so obviously on such a high level.

Completely blind to the predicament some women go through, what the Times of Malta termed “difficult pregnancy”, we are informed that the State “should help”. Well there you are…or almost there. That is exactly what, where and why the discussion is needed, because, as the laws stand today, there is nothing that a State can do but prosecute and imprison women and their doctors for having to make difficult decisions.  No ifs and no buts. The law is clear.

If the treatment prescribed by the doctor will cause an abortion, it is a crime. There are no exceptions related to a woman’s health, a woman’s life or viability of the foetus. There is no exception for incest or rape, not even when the pregnancy is ectopic and not viable and/or when the foetus suffers from a condition that will just cause it to suffer and die a couple of days after birth.

There is no concern with a mother having to orphan her existing children because the pregnancy might disable her or kill her.

None of these are black and white issues for those who have to live through them, i.e. women.

We are aware that the good doctors of Malta, to their credit, will try their utmost to help a woman when her life is at stake. Yet, they are limited by law and lack of available medicine and some decisions are made at the detriment of both mother and the foetus, against best possible practices as recommended by WHO and other institutions.

They operate in ambiguity (again, not black and white) and the least we can do is talk about it, thrash it out and figure it out, like any mature society would.

Which brings us back to the discussion on reproductive rights and the only question we have for you and anyone opposed to discussion even taking place: what are you afraid of?

If the arguments are on your side, if the issue is black and white, if there are no circumstances that might blur your moral certainty, the discussion will not last long and we continue as we are now. On the other hand, discussions could create an opportunity to expand our knowledge and understanding of ethical, medical and legal issues related to reproductive health.

It might bring clarity to medical professionals and women in difficult situations. It could inform and educate the public and offer an opportunity for some to re-examine their understanding and change their opinion based on the evidence and arguments provided. What is wrong with any of this?

Malta made great strides in recent years on civil rights and personal freedoms. Human rights often clash with one another and often we are forced to find a limit, a thin line when one right encroaches on another right. Refusing to even contemplate talking about finding the right balance is morally and ethically wrong.

The issues related to women’s rights (inclusive of reproductive rights) have been on the back burner for way too long and expecting women to remain silent in face of blatant discrimination is ludicrous. We will not stay silent. No more. Not this time.

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