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Pro-life Maltese politician elected president of European Parliament

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Leila Paul | CC BY-SA 3.0

Roberta Metsola.

John Burger - published on 01/20/22 - updated on 01/21/22

Roberta Metsola, 43, takes reins of EU's legislative body in face of pro-abortion critics.

The European Union and its various governmental structures have been looked upon with suspicion in recent years by proponents of traditional moral understandings of life, marriage and the human person. 

But this week, the European Parliament, the EU’s only directly elected institution, chose as its president a 43-year-old woman from Malta who has become known for her outspokenness against abortion.

Roberta Metsola, who most recently served as first vice president of the European Parliament, was elected president following the sudden death last week of its president, David Sassoli. Metsola, a wife and mother of four boys, received 458 votes from the 750-member parliament. 

Metsola, a member of the conservative European People’s Party, the Parliament’s largest political group, is the youngest president of the European Parliament and only the third woman to head the body. 

Since 2013, Metsola has represented Malta – one of only a few European nations where abortion is still illegal — at the EP. She has said she strongly opposes any attempts by the Parliament to urge countries like her own to legalize abortion.

According to the New York Times, the European Parliament can veto legislation, set up budgets, ratify international agreements and has a supervisory role over various institutions. It also has the final say in approving the president of the European Commission.

Pro-life record

In 2013, Metsola voted against a parliamentary report on “gender equality,” a subject she normally supports, because it contained a recommendation for “ready access to abortion.”

“We fully support gender equality and we are committed to achieving this goal. However, we remain categorically against abortion,” Metsola said in a joint statement with two other MEPs at the time. “It is regrettable that a report that analyses the situation of gender equality was hijacked to include unacceptable references to abortion.”

Last June, Metsola voted against a report declaring abortion to be a human right, insisting that its contents did not respect Malta’s right to decide for itself on the issue.

“I could not support the final version of it,” Metsola said of the report. “We would be wrong to give anyone the impression that the European Parliament or MEPs have any power or competence to legislate on this matter. This is only the prerogative of Malta’s national parliament. This is a right that belongs to our Parliament and a right that I respect.”

Politico reported that Metsola’s victory followed a “last-minute, power-sharing deal between the three largest groups in the Parliament — the center-right European People’s Party (EPP), the Socialists & Democrats (S&D) and the liberal Renew Europe.”

Politico also noted that socialist members of the parliament and the chairperson of its Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality criticized Metsola’s pro-life record. But Politico reported her saying that she would do what MEPs want her to do on the issue. 

“I will not interpret the positions of the house,” she said. “They will be mine.”

Aleteia has reached out to Metsola for comment.

Though Malta Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Galea-Curmi, delegate of the Bishops’ Conference of Malta for the European Bishops’ Conference, said Metsola brings experience and deeply rooted European values to her role, the Catholic Church in Europe might find itself butting heads with the new EP president on another issue. She is a strong proponent of LGBT rights. 

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