|Above: Intersex advocates protest cosmetic genital surgery on children|
It is also, interestingly, a champion of bodily autonomy:
MALTA has become the first country in the world to outlaw medical practitioners or other professionals from conducting any involuntary or coerced surgical intervention on minors with intersex variations.
... The new law officially recognises the right to bodily integrity and physical autonomy and protects intersex infants and children from non-necessary medical interventions.The legislation was passed with cross party support and prohibits "any sex assignment treatment and/or surgical intervention on the sex characteristics of a minor which treatment and/or intervention can be deferred until the person to be treated can provide informed consent." In other words, the surgery must wait until the child is old enough to have a say.
Infants with intersex conditions are often subject to genital surgery that is entirely cosmetic, with the aim of making the genitals look more typically male or female. Advocacy groups for intersex people, such as Inter/Act and the Intersex Society of North America, speak out strongly against such unnecessary, non-consensual procedures. As one intersex youth put it: "Surgery is a last resort for everyone else. Why should it be different for us?"
Kudos to Malta for showing us that the right to life and the right to bodily autonomy are entirely compatible. Indeed, in this case, they are two aspects of the same mission: protecting children who are too young to speak for themselves. Malta's abortion-supporting neighbors would be wise to follow its lead.