Natalie Psaila, a specialist in family medicine and co-founder of a pro-choice NGO, is the first Maltese woman to make it to the BBC’s list of 100 most inspirational and influential women from around the world in 2023.
Revealing the list on Tuesday, the BBC’s list includes the likes of attorney and former US First Lady Michelle Obama, British-Lebanese human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, and US feminist leader Gloria Steinem.
It also includes women who are popular in the entertainment and culture world, such as Heartstopper writer Alice Oseman, and Justina Miles, a deaf performer who signed the lyrics to Rihanna’s 2023 Super Bowl performance.
The BBC 100 Women team drew up a shortlist based on names they gathered with the help of colleagues across the BBC. The nominated women made headlines, had inspiring stories, achieved something significant or influenced their societies in ways that would not necessarily make the news.
Psaila co-founded Doctors for Choice Malta and has been an advocate to decriminalise and legislate abortion in Malta, and to have better access to contraception.
She is one of the two doctors who launched a helpline for pregnant women who wish to discuss their abortion options in Malta or abroad.
She also published a sex education book aimed at 10 to 13-year-olds called My Body’s Fantastic Journey, to help improve knowledge of reproductive health in the country.
Malta remains some of the strictest abortion rules in the world, forbidding it in all circumstances, including rape.
In June, the government presented the revamped abortion bill, where women will be allowed to have an abortion if their life is at immediate risk or their health is in ‘grave jeopardy which may lead to her death’.
Previously, doctors who terminated a pregnancy risked criminal prosecution.
Critics of the law say it will endanger women’s lives and discourage doctors from carrying out terminations when needed, as any health-related terminations that are not deemed life-threatening must be approved by three medical specialists.