The Atlantic

Malta’s Fledgling Movement for Abortion Rights

The country is the only one in Europe that outright bans abortion, but public perception is slowly shifting.
Source: Darrin Zammit Lupi / Reuters

VALETTA, Malta—Maria Borg stood with five other women outside the prime minister’s office here on a recent day, holding a banner that read: Welcome to Malta, where women and girls are just incubators.

The women, part of an abortion-rights collective called Voice for Choice, were welcoming European leaders, including France’s Emmanuel Macron and Spain’s Pedro Sánchez, who were attending a Southern European Union summit. As the women stood in silence under the hot Mediterranean sun for more than two hours, various people stopped by in support—many of them tourists. The demonstration was live-streamed on Facebook and was covered by all the major local outlets.

To anyone outside Malta, this demonstration would seem insignificant. But for the island, a stronghold for the Catholic Church, it was substantial—one of the few abortion-rights protests in the country’s history.

Before the protest, Borg had never publicly come out as a supporter of the right to terminate threatened to “shoot these bitches in the head one by one facing each other,” referring to the six protesters.

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic6 min read
The Wizard of Oz Invented the ‘Good Witch’
Eighty years ago, MGM’s sparkly pink rendering of Glinda expanded American pop culture’s definition of free-flying women.
The Atlantic5 min readSociety
When Kids Are Straight Until Proven Otherwise
Many gay preteens know early on that they are somehow different, but lack the parental and social support that heterosexuals take for granted.
The Atlantic8 min readSociety
Saved From Death Row, Only to Be Returned
A set of unusual cases in North Carolina brings new attention to racism in death-penalty trials.