Do you need an abortion, and you live in Malta?
This page is for people 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, but for others it is a straightforward decision. This page provides information on abortion, to allow people 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 not legal in Malta. However, each year hundreds of Maltese women have abortions either by travelling to abortion clinics abroad or by ordering abortion pills. Nobody has been taken to court in Malta for having an abortion in the last five years, and nobody has been imprisoned for having an abortion in the last twenty five years.
There are two main ways people 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.
Abortion options and methods
Abortion (also known as termination of pregnancy or ToP for short) means stopping a pregnancy so it does not result in a birth.
Women who need to terminate their pregnancy usually have a choice of either medical abortion, which means taking two medicines (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.
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 cramping pain, but this should resolve in a few days to weeks.
You should seek medical help if you experience any of the following after an abortion:
Severe vaginal bleeding
Severe pain that does not ease with painkillers
Fever (a temperature)
A smelly vaginal discharge
Do not be afraid to seek help, even if you have used abortion pills. This is because doctors cannot reliably tell the difference between a natural miscarriage and an abortion, unless you tell them you have used abortion pills.
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.
Abortion pill providers
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 the following reputable organisations:
These two organisations offer online abortion telemedicine services to women in countries where abortion is restricted, including Malta. Ordering abortion pills from these organisations is a simple process that involves going to their website and completing an online consultation, paying a donation of around 100 Euro, and after their doctor gives approval 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, and since both of these organisations send their shipments from within the EU there are no customs formalities or fees. The process is summarised in the diagram below. Before ordering, check whether there are any service disruptions. There are some differences between these two organisations which are covered here.
You can find more detailed information on how to order abortion pills on Safe Abortion Malta.
Abortion pills for future use
Women on Web offer advance provision of abortion pills. This means they also provide abortion pills to non-pregnant people in case they need them in the future.
The abortion with pills procedure
There are two abortion pills - Mifepristone (RU-486, Mifegynae, Mifeprex) and Misoprostol (Cytotec, Cytotecal, Cytoheal). 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 when preceded by Mifepristone it is more likely to be effective and less likely to cause complications.
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 slightly lower 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 need help booking an abortion trip abroad, contact Abortion Support Network. This is a UK organisation that helps women in Malta book appointments with abortion clinics, arrange flights and accommodation, and can help pay for part of the costs if needed.
When choosing a country in which to have an abortion, keep in mind that different countries have different pregnancy 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. You can start by looking at the website of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), 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 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 UK, the Netherlands, and Spain that accept women from Malta here.
Click the flags on the following map to get more information on the common abortion destinations for women in Malta:
When exploring abortion providers and clinics, find out their location and how easy (or not) they are to access from Malta. You will need to consider 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.
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.
A surgical abortion on pregnancies beyond 15 weeks is done by dilation 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.
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.
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.
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 service like FPAS Malta, because anti-abortion groups in Malta are known to give false and misleading information to stop women from having abortions.