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 access abortion services overseas.
We understand this may be a very difficult time for you. Deciding whether to have an abortion is never easy. We have written this page to provide more information about this subject, and allow women in Malta to make their own decision. We never advise women on whether they should have an abortion or not. That is their decision to make.
Even though abortion is illegal in Malta, 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.
Step 1: Obtain more information about abortion
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; these are often run by anti-abortion ("pro-life") groups and there have been reports of women being hindered from accessing abortion. Always clarify who is behind the service and what their values are before giving them your personal information.
Abortion 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) that cause a miscarriage, or surgical abortion which is a minor procedure to physically remove the pregnancy. Medical abortion is the most commonly performed type of abortion in the UK.
Abortion is a relatively safe procedure, in fact it is probably 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, severe pain, a fever, or 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:
Step 2: Explore overseas abortion providers
If you have decided that you would like to pursue an abortion, 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:
Marie Stopes is another leading provider of abortion services in the UK:
We recommend exploring and comparing different providers before booking an appointment.
Step 3: Consider contacting Abortion Support Network
Abortion Support Network (ASN) is a non-profit organisation that assists women in Malta to access abortion in the UK. They can provide further information on abortion, as well as accommodation and financial assistance if you need it.
Have a look at ASN's website to learn more about how they could help:
We have also included ASN's phone number and email address in the image below.
Finally, if you have any further questions, contact us Doctors for Choice Malta and we will endeavour to answer them.
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.