By Thaddeus M. Baklinski

VALLETTA, Malta, April 15, 2008 ( – The bishops of Malta and Gozo issued a press release today saying that abortion is not a choice but murder, and not a right but a negation of the right to life.

The statement defending the right to life was issued to encourage a pro-life position to members attending a plenary session of the Council of Europe (CoE) which is meeting in Strasbourg this week. The CoE is currently debating a motion calling for the decriminalisation of abortion in all of the CoE’s 47 member states. The motion would also further lift restrictions in those countries where abortion is already legalised.

The resolution calls on all 47 member states, including Malta, to decriminalise abortion, “guarantee women’s effective exercise of their right to abortion” and “allow women freedom of choice and offer the conditions of a free and enlightened choice.”

Abortion on demand is available in all Council of Europe member states, except Andorra, Ireland, Malta and Poland.

Archbishop Paul Cremona and Bishop Mario Grech said they wished to express their appreciation and support to the Maltese representatives who are actively opposing the approval of this motion. They reiterated that the first fundamental human right is the right to life and that this right is not a man-made construct but “inscribed by the Creator in human nature.”

“We have the duty to defend the life of every human being from the first moment of its existence. Abortion is not a choice but murder; abortion is not a right but a negation of the right to life; abortion is not beneficial, neither for society nor for the mother herself.”

The bishops said they were appealing to the rapporteurs of the Council of Europe to be objective in what they proposed for the consideration of the members, to present fact as fact, comment as comments and what is debatable as debatable.

They also encouraged the people of Malta and Gozo to pray to the Lord to continue giving their representatives and the other members of the Assembly the wisdom and courage to defend human life.

The motion calling for the decriminalisation of abortion was presented to the Council of Europe meeting by the “Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men.” The Committee produced a report stating that “the Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men considers that a ban on abortions does not result in fewer abortions, but mainly leads to clandestine abortions, which are more traumatic and more dangerous.”

In an interview with the Malta Star, Paul Vincenti, Gift of Life Malta coordinator and pro-life activist, objected to this argument, stating that “there have never been any recorded instances of illegal back street abortions taking place in Malta. Those Maltese who opt for an abortion go to Sicily or the UK and have an abortion that is generally carried out by doctors in their private clinics and not in someone’s dirty garage as the pro-abortion side would try to have the uninformed believe to solicit fear and support for abortion.”
  Mr. Vincenti also accused the Council of Europe of trying to “impose values on others” rather than trying to seek the truth. Vincenti criticised the CoE because it sought the opinion of pro-abortion groups without inviting pro-life organisations to contribute to the Council’s deliberation.

“The Council of Europe is the guardian of human rights. Human life begins at conception and it is simply incomprehensible how the CoE can call for the legal destruction of human life in its most exposed and defenceless stage of development. If the CoE were so interested in abortion, why did they only take testimonies from pro-abortion groups? They did not invite the pro-life organizations to give their expert advice. Why is this? Clearly, their agenda is not to seek the truth here, but just to impose their values upon others. This is most alarming.”

Mr. Vincenti said the “vast majority at 93% of Maltese, is absolutely against abortion and believe that the unborn child should have the clear right to life.”

Link to the Maltese Bishops statement on defending the right to life: