The Feast of the Immaculate Conception which we shall celebrate next Thursday, 8th December, is a very dear feast to us Maltese. It is a feast that gives an important message even by its very name which has such great meaning – “conception” – as it reminds us that we celebrate Mary from the moment of her conception. She is without stain from the first moment of her conception. This same feast is a clear declaration that human life is precious from the first moment of its conception.
When we speak of caring for life from the first moment of conception, and of the respect towards the dignity of this life that has started, we do not speak in this way because our faith tells us that there is human life from conception, or because the Church tells us so. It is science that tells us this. Even a scan of the baby in the womb shows the gradual development of the human life when the baby has not yet been born. In the womb there is someone, not something. What faith tell us is to cherish this life that has started because every life is a gift of God.
The proposed amendment introduces something new. It also speaks of situations in which it is not the mother’s life that is in danger, but her health, and proposes that health can be safeguarded by killing a new human life. This means abortion.
In the light of this, we wish to express our great preoccupation with respect to the amendment that is currently being discussed in parliament and which, if approved, will introduce abortion to Malta.
The proposed amendment does not only speak of a situation in which a mother is in danger of dying because of her pregnancy. We know that when there is this sort of danger, doctors always try to save the mother and the baby, and when they are not successful in saving both of them, they save the mother. Whenever this has happened over the years, legal problems were never created for the mothers or the doctors. There was no need for the law to be changed for the mother to be saved were she in danger of dying.
However, the proposed amendment introduces something new. It also speaks of situations in which it is not the mother’s life that is in danger, but her health, and proposes that health can be safeguarded by killing a new human life. This means abortion. The experience of a number of countries shows that abortion was introduced precisily because of the use of this word ‘health’, as is being proposed in the amendment. This is a very serious matter. We know that when health requires treatment, every type of treatment necessary should be given, and when the mother needs help, she should be given all the support that she needs. However, a human life should not be killed to safeguard somebody’s health. When respect for the dignity of the baby in the womb is denied, the foundation of respect for the dignity of each human being – including that of the woman and the professional – is destroyed.
We wish to express our wholehearted appeal for our voice to be heard clearly in favour of the protection of life at each of its moments – from the first moment of conception to its natural end, and at each of its moments. We also make a special appeal to those who bear the great responsibility of taking a decision regarding the amendment, so that their choice will be in favour of life and not in favour of death.
We beseech our Mother Mary, Immaculate Conception, who always reminds us of life that starts from conception, to intercede for us and to help us always protect each human life with great care.
✠ Charles Jude Scicluna
Archbishop of Malta
✠ Anton Teuma
Bishop of Gozo
✠ Joseph Galea-Curmi
Auxiliary Bishop of Malta