“Abortion is already here, but only for the rich”, women’s rights activist Francesca Fenech Conti said when discussing abortion at JEF Talks: Women’s Rights on Friday.
Fenech Conti is a woman’s rights Activist and the founder of the popular women-only Facebook Group Women for Women, and was the panelist featured at JEF Talks: Women’s Rights. The topics discussed were contraception and the legalisation of abortion and how these fell into the same domain as women’s rights.
Fenech Conti expressed her happiness at the fact that stigma around the morning-after pill has decreased ever since it was legalised in 2016. Ideally, she stated, it would be accessible not just to 16 year olds and over, as is the current law, but to everyone who is at a menstruating age as these are the people who will require and benefit from it. While caution is required in these cases, these people have a right to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancies, she said.
Regarding the KSU survey on abortion, she stated that she is not surprised that the majority (60%) were against the legalisation of abortion. At that age, Fenech Conti, explained that she herself was pro-life as she had not yet formed her own opinion. In her words, ‘my ideologies were my parent’s ideologies’. She encouraged students to go through the process of thought and research so that they could form their own stance on the subject.
According to her, the main difference between the pro-life and the pro-choice lobby is that the pro-life’s roots are entrenched in a religious background, where the soul of the foetus is already present from conception, while the pro-choice movement are more concerned with the well-being of women.
At the end of the day, however, both lobbies are hoping to make society a better place, she said. The polarisation between the 2 parties has not helped with moving the discussion forward and she expressed hope that in the future they will find more common ground.
She said that she felt that the legalisation of abortion should be formulated as a government policy and not achieved via referendum. However, she feels that politicians are scared to take such a jump. She notes that abortion is only carried out by Maltese women who have the money to access them in other countries. Such a policy would be able to ensure that this service is accessible ‘to all citizens, not just those who can afford it’.
Being Catholic and being pro-choice are not mutually exclusive according to her. Just as believing in a religion is a choice, so should being pregnant. Since abortion is happening either way, the most moral thing one can do is to at least provide SAFE access to abortion, she said.
Ending her talk, Fenech Conti emphasised the need for more male support and empathy and for a better discussion about these topics.
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