Sustaining an absolute respect for right to life
Figures provided by the Department of Health in Britain show that 51 Maltese women had an abortion in the UK in 2010 compared to 78 the previous year. Prima facie the data could be seen as an indication that fewer Maltese women are seeking the procedure overseas – abortion in Malta is, of course, illegal. The number is also below the annual average of 57 abortions carried out on Maltese women in England and Wales in the previous 10 years. However, how many other Maltese women may be having abortions in other countries, say, Italy, is anybody’s guess because no statistics are available in such cases.
A crucial question that springs from such a reality is whether the country has the proper structures to identify the dimension of abortions by Maltese women abroad primarily to ensure that all possible facilities are in place, and readily available, to help those facing such moments of truth. The pain, and not just physical, an abortion causes is immeasurable. A living creature dies. The mother and others close to her often live or try to live with souls harbouring guilt, minds in turmoil, normal patterns of behaviour turned upside down. Some will never forgive themselves.
Abortion wreaks havoc. Many studies show that it is a destructive force, especially for women, who are often left alone to bear the deep sorrow and regret that follow the decision to destroy the life of an unborn child.
Research conducted by Paul C. Vitz, professor emeritus of psychology at New York University and senior scholar at the Institute for Psychological Sciences, concludes that “though a woman can decide rationally to have an abortion... a terrible and shocking reaction sets in after their abortion”. He argues that, often, what lasts is not the relief or the power of the logical arguments; these may prove very short-lived. “It is, rather, the failed, betrayed relationship between the woman and her foetus – now, in her mind, her dead baby – that has staying power.”
The dimension of any praiseworthy campaign for the mobilisation of pro-life values should therefore go beyond promoting full legal protection for the unborn. It should also include the best possible coordinated efforts to educate people about why abortion is not right and what terrible effects it could have while also offering proficient counselling, encouragement and help to women and families in difficult situations.
Appoġġ offers a service (helpline 179) to women experiencing crises resulting from their pregnancy. Yet, maybe it is time to consider having a counselling centre for pregnant women, also offering goal-directed advice to save unborn babies that may be at risk of being aborted and to support women in difficult living situations with all the means available. Indeed, the quality of such counselling must take very seriously both the value of unborn life and the difficulties of the pregnant woman.
Unconditional respect for the right to life of every innocent person, from conception to natural death, is one of the pillars on which every civil society stands. A caring state recognises the defence of the fundamental rights of the human person, especially of the weakest, as its primary duty. It, therefore, never stops seeking to invest in valid efforts aimed at identifying and combating considerations that may lead to abortion, at defending life and at promoting the reconciliation and healing of those harmed by the tragedy of abortion. Just one abortion is one too many and the 51 we know about may be just a sample.