Abortion in Malta at the time of the Knights
Sunday, December 3, 2017
by Giovanni Bonello
It is only during the rule of the Order of St John over Malta that abortion, its practices and its regulation, start being documented. Before that, total silence seems to shroud the subject. With the arrival of the Knights, written records become more systematic and extensive. The fact that civil governance fell under the tutelage of a Christian religious order may help to explain why abortion starts being a subject of interest.
Though no documentary evidence survives, Christianity’s ancient aversion to the termination of unborn life, would, almost certainly, have been reflected in the criminal law of the islands even before the Order’s rule. But the first positive enactment I could trace goes back to Grand Master Jean Paul Lascaris who, in January 1650, by magistral edict, formally criminalised abortion.