MALTA – Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights: Position Paper 2018

Women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights are recognised worldwide as a priority health issue. Women are more likely to fall victim to sexual violence, make decisions on contraceptive use and carry sole responsibility for pregnancy.

This position paper by the Women’s Rights Foundation Malta advocates for all women and girls in Malta to have access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health and explores areas through which good sexual and reproductive health can be achieved.

The paper follows a rights-based approach with recommendations pertaining to:

> National action plan for sexual and reproductive health

> Comprehensive sexuality education with gender equality and human rights at its core

> Contraception and family planning

> Access to safe and legal abortion

The recommendations in brief are as follows:

> Revise the National Sexual Health Strategy to reflect legal and societal changes occurring since 2011.

> Develop family, school and community-based sexuality education and awareness-raising programmes and strategies that place gender equality and human rights at the centre and use methods that foster participation and critical thinking.

> Enable access to sexual and reproductive health services through a number of community-based clinics that provide services that are gender and age appropriate and that further conduct outreach for marginalised groups.

> Eliminate practical, financial and legal restrictions on the provision of contraceptives especially for young people and persons on low income. Subsiding contraception should be considered as a public health investment and should be extended for all brands and

methods of modern contraception. Requirements for third-party authorisation that impede access to contraception for adolescents under the age of 16 should be removed.

> Decriminalise abortion so that Maltese women who access abortion in other countries or through telemedicine do not face criminal proceedings and risk three years’ imprisonment especially when accessing local health services for possible post-abortion complications.

> Provide access to safe and legal abortion to all women in Malta through the public health system and licensed private providers at least in the following circumstances:

  1. To save a woman’s life;
  2. To preserve a woman’s physical and mental health;
  3. In cases of rape or incest;
  4. In cases of severe fatal fetal impairment.