Do you need an abortion,
and you live in Malta?
This page is for women in Malta who need an abortion, and has information on how to get a safe abortion.
We understand this may be a difficult time for you. Deciding whether to have an abortion can be difficult for some women, for others it is a straightforward decision. We have written this page to provide more information about this subject, and allow women in Malta to make their own decision and get a safe abortion if they need it.
Despite being a basic healthcare need for women, abortion is illegal in Malta under all circumstances, and there are no legitimate abortion clinics in the country. However, each year hundreds of Maltese women have abortions either by travelling abroad or by using abortion pills. No woman has been taken to court in Malta for having an abortion in the last five years, and no woman has been imprisoned for having an abortion in the last twenty five years.
There are two main ways women in Malta get abortions:
by ordering abortion pills online and managing their own abortion at home,
or by travelling overseas for a medical or surgical abortion in a clinic abroad.
Obtain information about abortion
Abortion (also known as termination of pregnancy or ToP for short) means stopping a pregnancy so it does not result in a birth. Modern abortion care involves a choice of either medical abortion, which means taking two pills (mifepristone and misoprostol - more information below) that cause a miscarriage, or surgical abortion which is a minor procedure to physically remove the pregnancy through the vagina and does not involve any cutting. Medical abortion is the most commonly performed type of abortion, and can be undertaken by the woman herself at home in the first twelve weeks of pregnancy.
For more information on the different methods of abortion click here.
The following table summarises the methods of abortion available at each stage of pregnancy:
* Not all clinics offer surgical abortion in the very early stages of pregnancy.
You can also use this interactive web application to find the abortion methods and options available to you at your stage of pregnancy.
Abortion is a relatively safe procedure, in fact it is safer than giving birth, but you should be aware of certain complications that may sometimes occur. Infections and incomplete removal of the pregnancy are the most common complications.
After an abortion, it is normal to experience vaginal bleeding and some discomfort, but this should resolve in a few days to weeks.
You should seek medical advice if you experience any of the following after an abortion:
Severe vaginal bleeding
Fever (a temperature)
A smelly vaginal discharge
The UK's national health service (NHS) website has easy to read information on what abortion is, what it involves, as well as possible complications you should be aware of. You can read more here:
Abortion with Pills
Abortion pills can be safely used at home up to 12 weeks pregnancy, according to the World Health Organisation. In most cases, an ultrasound before or after an abortion with pills is not needed, and over 95% of women who use abortion pills at home in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy will not need any medical assistance.
Due to the illegality of abortion, abortion pills are not available in pharmacies in Malta. However, it is a known fact that women order abortion pills online from organisations like Women on Web and Women Help Women. There are some differences between these two organisations which are covered here.
These organisations offer abortion telemedicine services to women in countries where abortion is restricted, including Malta. Ordering abortion pills from these organisations is a simple process, which involves going to their website and completing an online consultation, and after paying a donation of around 100 Euro they will send you the abortion pill kit by post to the address of your choice. The pills usually arrive in 1 to 3 weeks.
You can find more detailed information on how to order abortion pills on Safe Abortion Malta.
There are two abortion pills - Mifepristone (RU-486, Mifegynae, or Mifeprex) and Misoprostol (Cytotec, Cytotecal). They are usually supplied in a single combi-pack such as Termipil Kit. Mifepristone is taken first, followed by Misoprostol the next day.
Mifepristone is a medication that blocks the natural hormone progesterone. It softens the cervix and prepares the uterus for an abortion. The usual dose is 200mg when used in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, and it should be followed 24-48 hours later by Misoprostol.
Misoprostol is a medication that causes contractions of the uterus and ejects the pregnancy. The contractions are experienced as strong cramps accompanied by bleeding, similar to a heavy menstruation. Misoprostol is usually taken at a dose of 800mcg, which can be repeated every three hours until miscarriage occurs. Misoprostol tablets are usually kept under the tongue for thirty minutes. Misoprostol can terminate a pregnancy on its own, but it is usually preceded by Mifepristone to make the abortion easier.
The cramps and pain after using Misoprostol can be very strong. However, the pain can be reduced by using painkillers of the NSAID class such as Ibuprofen (Nurofen) which is available over the counter. The first dose of painkiller should be taken either with, or an hour before, Misoprostol. Further doses of painkiller should then be taken every few hours until the cramps and bleeding subside.
The combined use of Mifepristone and Misoprostol is 99% effective at terminating the pregnancy, whereas Misoprostol on its own has a 92-98% success rate. A successful abortion can be confirmed with a negative pregnancy test three weeks after using abortion pills. You can also arrange to have an ultrasound ten days after using the pills.
Watch this video on how an abortion with pills is carried out:
Travelling to an abortion clinic abroad
If you have decided that you would like to pursue an abortion in a clinic abroad, you should start by exploring the services offered by abortion providers in different European countries. When choosing a country in which to have an abortion, keep in mind that different countries have different gestational limits up to which abortion is allowed. In the UK, abortion is allowed up to 24 weeks in most cases, although there is no limit in cases of foetal anomaly or if there is a risk to the woman's life.
If you need help booking an abortion trip abroad, contact Abortion Support Network.
If you are going to travel for an abortion you will probably want to opt for a straightforward surgical abortion rather than an abortion with pills. A surgical abortion on pregnancies of up to 15 weeks is performed with vacuum aspiration, which involves giving a local anaesthetic around the cervix and using a cannula to gently suck out the pregnancy. You can expect to be at the clinic for 3-4 hours when having a vacuum aspiration and the procedure usually costs around 800 Euro. This video explains what a vacuum aspiration is:
A surgical abortion on pregnancies beyond 15 weeks is done by dilatation and evacuation (D&E). This procedure requires a general anaesthetic, and you will need to be at the clinic for almost whole day. You will also need to attend the clinic a day before the procedure for cervical preparation. This procedure usually costs between 1,500 and 2,000 Euro. This video explains what a dilatation and evacuation is:
When exploring abortion providers and clinics, keep in mind their location and how easy (or not) they are to access from Malta. You will need to factor in flight, onward travel, and accommodation costs. Most abortion providers have websites that indicate the approximate cost of having an abortion. You should have sufficient financial reserves, because even though they are uncommon, complications can occur after an abortion and your travel or medical insurance is unlikely to cover the costs. If possible, you should travel with a trusted companion such as a friend or family member for support.
Before you travel, make sure you know your own medical history, which medications you take, and whether you have any allergies. If in doubt, ask your local GP for this information. Your overseas care provider will not have access to your local medical record and will rely on you to have this information available.
There are many abortion providers and we will not be making any particular recommendations. However, you may wish to start by looking at the British Pregnancy Advisory Service's (BPAS) website, which has a lot of easy to read information on abortion clinics in the UK and the costs involved. MSI and NUPAS are other providers of abortion services in the UK.
If you cannot travel to the UK due to visa restrictions or other issues, and you need information on abortion clinics within the Schengen Area, please contact Abortion Support Network. The Netherlands (Holland) has an abortion limit of 23 weeks and Spain has an abortion limit of 14 weeks. You can find a list of abortion clinics in the Netherlands and Spain that accept women from Malta here. We do not recommend having an abortion in Sicily, for reasons explained here.
We recommend exploring and comparing different providers and their prices before booking an appointment. Make sure you have agreed your appointment times and an estimated price with a clinic before you travel.
If you want to speak with someone who is pro-choice: Contact FPAS Malta
FPAS (Family Planning and Pregnancy Advisory Service) offers free and confidential advice to women in Malta who need to discuss their pregnancy options, including abortion. FPAS provides reliable and unbiased information on abortion services and can refer you to other pro-choice organisations if needed.
FPAS is run by pro-choice volunteers and is co-ordinated and supported by three Maltese pro-choice NGOs: Doctors for Choice, the Women's Rights Foundation, and Women for Women.
If you need financial help or overseas abortion advice: Contact Abortion Support Network
Abortion Support Network (ASN) is a non-profit organisation that assists women in Malta with getting an abortion with pills, or abortion at clinics in England and other parts of Europe. They can provide further information on abortion clinics or abortion pills, as well as accommodation and financial assistance if you need to travel.
Have a look at ASN's website to learn more about how they could help:
Finally, if you have any further questions, contact us Doctors for Choice Malta and we will endeavour to answer them.
A word of caution...
Factual information about abortion is often lacking or overly biased in Malta, even within the national health service. We also advise caution before attempting to make contact with local pregnancy crisis services or pregnancy support services; these are often run by anti-choice ("pro-life") groups and there have been reports of women being hindered from accessing abortion. For example, Life Line Malta and Dar Tgħanniqa t'Omm are operated by the local anti-choice organisation Life Network Foundation Malta, and HOPE is operated by Gift of Life Malta. Always clarify who is behind the service and what their values are before giving them your personal information.
Be particularly cautious of anyone offering abortion pill reversal, also known as abortion reversal treatment, to reverse the effects of Mifepristone. Such treatment is probably ineffective and dangerous. Read more here.
If you would like abortion advice or pregnancy advice, be sure to contact a pro-choice organisation like Abortion Support Network, because anti-abortion groups in Malta are known to give false and misleading information to stop women from having abortions.
Frequently Asked Questions
For a complete list of questions and answers, refer to our Knowledge Base. The following is a selection of most common questions and answers.
Does "abortion reversal" or "abortion pill reversal" work?
No. There is no evidence that giving Progesterone, or any other medication, after taking any abortion pills will stop abortion. Such treatment is unproven and potentially dangerous.
Before taking any abortion pills, make sure you are certain you would like to end the pregnancy.
Is it legal to import abortion pills?
This is a bit of a grey area. Mifepristone and Misoprostol are prescription-only medications that have other medical uses apart from abortion. Mifepristone is used to treat certain cancers and Misoprostol is used to treat stomach ulcers.
Customs regulations allow people to import prescription-only medication for personal use. We also know that Women on Web include a prescription by a doctor registered in the EU in the abortion pill pack. We are not aware of any recent cases where abortion pills have been withheld by the authorities.
I cannot afford to have an abortion. Who can help me?
We recommend contacting the Abortion Support Network on 27780991. Their website is www.asn.org.uk/malta and their email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Abortion Support Network can provide advice, assistance, and financial support.
Should I contact a pregnancy crisis service?
Keep in mind that pregnancy crisis services are usually run by anti-abortion groups with the aim of discouraging women from having abortion, and there have been reports of women being intimidated in Malta after contacting such services to stop them from having an abortion. It is ultimately your decision whether you wish to make use of such services, but we do not recommend it.
If you would like someone to discuss your pregnancy options with, we recommend contacting a pro-choice service like the Family Planning Advisory Service (FPAS).
I have had an abortion and need medical help in Malta. What do I do?
If it is an emergency, for example you have continued severe bleeding, pain, or signs of an infection such as a vaginal discharge or fever, you will need to attend an Accident and Emergency Department. We understand that many women will be reluctant to tell a doctor that they have taken abortion pills in Malta. Not disclosing this information will not usually change the treatment offered, because the treatment for miscarriage is the same regardless of whether it is natural or caused by pills. If you feel you need legal advice, the Women's Rights Foundation may be able to help.
Does an embryo or fetus feel pain when aborted?
No. According to research by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), a fetus does not have the necessary brain connections to feel pain and is unconscious before 24 weeks. Almost all abortions are performed before 24 weeks.
The RCOG research can be accessed here.
I have been told my baby will have a serious abnormality. How can I get an abortion?
A diagnosis of fetal anomaly can be devastating for the couple involved, and abortions in these circumstances often happen in the later stages of pregnancy. Couples who receive this diagnosis and want to opt for abortion will have to travel outside of Malta. The UK does not have a gestational limit for abortions in cases of fetal anomaly. A later term abortion is often more technically demanding than earlier abortions, and a post mortem examination of the fetus may be needed to identify what the abnormality was and whether it could be prevented in future pregnancies. The costs for these services can run into several thousand Euros, and you should discuss your options with Abortion Support Network.
I have a complicated pregnancy. How do I get an abortion?
The ban on abortion in Malta means that in certain situations women in Malta who have complications in pregnancy face additional risks, because they cannot choose to terminate their pregnancy. This is particularly true for ruptured membranes in the second trimester of pregnancy. If you have a complicated pregnancy and wish to discuss abortion options, contact the Family Planning Advisory Service.
Why do you inform women on how to access safe abortion?
As an organisation, the safety and wellbeing of women and the population of Malta as a whole are our priority. Restricting women's access to abortion forces women to undertake unsafe abortions either with less qualified providers, or without adequate supervision. The World Health Organisation states that banning abortion does not reduce the rate of abortions, it only makes them less safe. The World Health Organisation recommends that abortion services form part of every healthcare system, along with affordable contraception and comprehensive sexuality education.
We feel that we have a duty to prevent unsafe abortions by informing women on how to access safe and legal abortion abroad. We do not believe this would encourage more women to have an abortion; it would only help ensure that those women who have already decided to have an abortion do so legally and safely.