A total ban on abortion may endanger the life of women.
Professor Jane Somerville explains her views.
She says, “The abortion question in Malta is a very tricky one. And I understand both sides, of course.’
‘First of all you have to have some sort of opinion in order to guide. But it has to be very open-minded and I respect both sides. And I would say now I am not a Catholic and I don’t speak from any religious view.
What I do think is that the woman must, whatever the legislation is, be given some right to an opinion.
It is absolutely extraordinary that the lives of a woman and a whole family should be decided by men in suits in Parliament or wherever – or law or whatever it is.
I think there are four basic issues.
I think the woman should be given a choice and should not be made to carry a very deformed, disabled, predictably known, [after proof] fetus.
I don’t think any man could understand the trauma of such a thing. The woman can decide whether she wants to. And I think she should be allowed to. I don’t think it should be overlooked.
Another thing a woman as we see, with bad heart disease, may have a real chance [we have to ask those who know] of loosing her life by staying pregnant. I think it is right that she should have at least some say in that decision, and not the politicians.
And then there is the question of incest and rape that’s always brought up. I cannot go into that.
But about the first two I know a lot.
I don’t think that people realise that giving birth to a very disabled child, looking after it, has the ability to destroy a marriage which is wrong, has the ability to destroy the whole family and effect them, because a mother’s loving attention is usually only on that.
Apart from the trauma of having to give birth or carrying a very disabled child. I have dealt with all those situations so I do feel that legislation if you are going to say ‘no abortion’ somebody has to think about the mother. ‘
Professor Jane Somerville is Emeritus Professor of Cardiology at Imperial College London. She is President and Co-Founder of The Somerville Foundation, the only charity in the UK that supports adult patients with Congenital Heart Disease
Photos: George Aquilina