Malta Abortion Law
One of the aims of Doctors for Choice is to campaign for the decriminalisation of abortion in Malta. This may sound like a complex concept, but it's actually rather simple. At the moment, women who have abortions in Malta could face a maximum of three years in prison. Doctors who help women have abortions in Malta face a maximum of four years in jail and a permanent revocation of their licence. Malta's Criminal Code (Criminal Law) states:
Article 241 (1) Whosoever, by any food, drink, medicine, or by violence, or by any other means whatsoever, shall cause the miscarriage of any woman with child, whether the woman be consenting or not, shall, on conviction, be liable to imprisonment for a term from eighteen months to three years.
Article 241 (2) The same punishment shall be awarded against any woman who shall procure her own miscarriage, or who shall have consented to the use of the means by which the miscarriage is procured.’
Article 243 Any physician, surgeon, obstetrician, or apothecary, who shall have knowingly prescribed or administered the means whereby the miscarriage is procured, shall, on conviction, be liable to imprisonment for a term from eighteen months to four years, and to perpetual interdiction from the exercise of his profession.’
There are no exceptions in the law to allow an abortion when the woman's health is at risk, in cases of severe fetal malformation, or in cases of rape or incest. This makes Malta's abortion law the most inhumane in the whole European Union, at least on paper. However, it is rare for women in Malta to be prosecuted for having an abortion. 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. This is despite the fact that abortion telemedicine services (also known as abortion pills by post), such as those provided by Women on Web and Women Help Women, are frequently made use of on the island.
Decriminalisation means that abortion is no longer seen as a criminal act. This does not mean abortion becomes unregulated, but it is regulated like any other medical and surgical procedure, and not through penalties in the Maltese Criminal Code. The relevant articles criminalising abortion should be revoked completely.
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) have taken official stands in favour of the decriminalisation of abortion.
Irrespective of your personal views on abortion, would you rather punish women who have had an abortion (some of whom could be your family and friends) by having them face a prison sentence of up to three years? Or would you rather help them and support them? We hope it is the latter.
Current Maltese law criminalising abortion also stops women who need medical attention from seeking help, making abortions less safe and posing a risk to the health of anyone who needs an abortion in Malta. This is why abortion has to be decriminalised. Support those around you and your loved ones by advocating to decriminalise abortion.
Important to note: Maltese law only applies to the territory of Malta. This means Malta's abortion law only criminalises abortions that take place in Malta. It is lawful for Maltese residents to have an abortion abroad, as long as this is done according to the law of that country.