Are you considering an abortion,
and you live in Malta?
This page is for women in Malta considering abortion, and has information on how to get an 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 an abortion if they need it.
Despite being a basic healthcare need for women, abortion is illegal in Malta, 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 ordering abortion pills. Women in Malta have a legal right, as determined by the European Court of Human Rights*, to obtain information about abortion and make arrangements to have an abortion overseas. There is nothing in Maltese law that criminalises having an abortion in countries where it is legal.
* The right to assist women to travel abroad for an abortion has also been ruled to be protected under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, as decided by ECtHR case Open Door and Dublin Well Woman v. Ireland in 1992.
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.
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:
Travelling for an Abortion: Explore overseas abortion providers
If you have decided that you would like to pursue an abortion abroad, you will want to start exploring the services offered by abortion providers. 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.
In Italy, the limit is up to 90 days (around 12 weeks) in most cases.
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:
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 call Abortion Support Network on 2778 0991. A clinic in the Netherlands that accepts international clients and can perform first and second trimester abortions is the Beahuis & Bloemenhovekliniek.
We recommend exploring and comparing different providers and their prices before booking an appointment. 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.
Abortion pills can be safely used at home up to 12 weeks pregnancy in most cases, according to the World Health Organisation*. It is a known fact that women order abortion pills online from organisations like Women on Web and Women Help Women. Please remember that taking abortion pills to end a pregnancy whilst in Malta is illegal.
There are two abortion pills - Mifepristone (RU-486, Mifegynae, or Mifeprex) and Misoprostol (Cytotec). Mifepristone is usually taken first, followed by Misoprostol the next day.
Mifepristone is a medication that blocks the natural hormone progesterone. It softens the cervix and makes abortion easier. 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 combined use of Mifepristone and Misoprostol is 99% effective at terminating the pregnancy, whereas Misoprostol on its own has a 92-98% success rate.
* You can read the WHO guidance on the self-management of abortion here.
Watch this video by Women on Web on how abortion with pills is carried out:
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.
Why do we insist on informing women about how to access abortion abroad?
As Doctors for Choice, 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.