Sunday, 18 January 2009

Times: Maltese MEPs oppose move promoting abortion and same-sex marriages

Saturday, 17th January 2009 by Ivan Camilleri, Brussels

The five Maltese MEPs declared their opposition to same-sex marriages and abortion in the European Parliament, refusing to support a non-legally-binding resolution on harmonising fundamental human rights laws in Europe.

They joined 282 other MEPs who refused to back a resolution tabled by Italian Communist MEP Giusto Catania, which includes indirect references promoting abortion and gay marriages.
The motion called on the 27 member states to legally guarantee access to sexual and reproductive rights, a euphemism often used to include abortion on demand.

The two Nationalist MEPs, Simon Busuttil and David Casa, voted against the resolution and the three Labour MEPs, Louis Grech, Glenn Bedingfield and John Attard Montalto, abstained.

Mr Grech, the head of the Labour delegation, explained that there were some parts of the resolution which the three MEPs supported, such as guaranteeing human rights to homosexuals and immigrants. "However, we don't support abortion or gay marriages, so we decided not to back the resolution," he said, when asked about the reasoning behind the decision.
Much of the resolution, which obtained a majority vote in the European Chamber with 401 votes in favour, deals with xenophobia and the rights of children and refugees.

A part of it also speaks about "the need to raise public awareness on the right to reproductive and sexual health" and calls on member states "to ensure that women can fully enjoy these rights, to put in place appropriate sex education, information and confidential advisory services and to facilitate access to contraception to prevent all unwanted pregnancies and illegal and high-risk abortions".

The resolution also states that public funds should be made available in every EU member state to ensure that "ethnic minority women", in particular, can have full access to such services.
It calls on member states to recognise same-sex civil partnerships equally with heterosexual marriage.

A similar resolution was approved by the Council of Europe last year calling for abortion to be legalised in all European states. Malta also opposed the resolution.

According to the EU Treaties, abortion is a matter to be decided upon by individual member states. Malta and the Vatican City are the only two European states where abortion is completely illegal.

Abortion on demand is legal in all other European states in the first three months of pregnancy. It is forbidden in Ireland, Northern Ireland, Monaco and Poland, except in cases where the mother's life is in danger.

Access is also restricted in the UK, where it is available up to 24 weeks only with the approval of two doctors, along with Cyprus, Luxembourg, Spain, Portugal, Finland and Liechtenstein.

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