Pregnancy Crisis Services in Malta
In Malta it is extremely important to know who is who when it comes to seeking information or advice on options in pregnancy, including the option of abortion. This page summarises which services you should avoid, which services should be approached with caution, and which services are pro-choice.
Avoid: "Pregnancy crisis" services by anti-choice groups
If you are seeking an abortion, stay away from "pregnancy crisis services" by anti-choice groups.
Although it may sound like a well intentioned service - helping women who have financial or social problems, or are struggling with an unwanted pregnancy or an unplanned pregnancy - a number of "pregnancy crisis" and "pregnancy support" services in Malta are run by anti-choice groups that cannot be trusted to provide proper advice or reliable information on abortion.
The aim of 'pregnancy crisis services' run by anti-choice organisations is to stop women from having abortions, and there have been reports of women being intimidated after contacting such services in Malta to prevent them from getting abortions. Intimidation tactics employed by such groups included sending abusive text messages and visiting women in their homes, causing great distress to these women.
Vulnerable women contacting such services may not be fully aware of their true intentions and agenda, and may think that they will receive unbiased information on all pregnancy options including on how to get an abortion. This is certainly not the case.
Here are a few examples of services in Malta run by anti-choice groups:
Life Line Malta, a helpline claiming to offer "pregnancy crisis support" is an initiative of the anti-choice organisation LifeNetwork foundation, and its website contains a number of false claims on abortion and contraception. The shelter Dar Tgħanniqa t'Omm (Mother's Embrace Home) is also administered by this organisation. It is also a known fact that Life Network is affiliated with Agenda Europe (it says so on their website). Agenda Europe is an extremist political network that aims to roll back human rights and equality protections across Europe. They are against LGBTIQ+ rights and protections, as well as against contraception, the choice of abortion, and reproductive technologies like IVF.
Life Line Malta and LifeNetwork foundation are affiliated with the American anti-choice and far-right organisation Heartbeat International and its service Option Line. Heartbeat International is described on Wikipedia as "an international Christian association that supports crisis pregnancy centers (CPC). It does not offer, recommend, or refer for abortions. Heartbeat International teaches its affiliated members to make their advertising look as though they are full-service clinics that provide referrals for birth control or abortion. Staff are also trained on how to discourage pregnant women from accessing abortion, and how to discourage young women from using emergency contraception, birth control pills, or IUDs."
HOPE pregnancy crisis support service is administered by the anti-choice organisation Gift of Life Malta, and it is also affiliated with Heartbeat International.
As an organisation we recommend that the public and especially vulnerable pregnant women stay away from such "pregnancy crisis services." The reason behind this recommendation is that we believe women should be empowered to make their own decisions about their pregnancy by being provided with unbiased and factual information, and should not be tricked or intimidated into keeping their pregnancy. Anti-choice groups will not give factual information on abortion.
Exercise caution: Government or Church-run pregnancy support services
Abortion is completely illegal in Malta and official government policy remains against abortion in all circumstances. Therefore, government services in Malta, including social services (known as the Foundation of Social Welfare Services or Aġenzija Appoġġ), cannot be relied upon to refer to abortion providers. Contrary to popular belief, there is no requirement in Maltese law to report women who intend to have an abortion, and any references to the unborn have been removed from the latest revision of the Child Protection Act.
We are aware of at least one case in recent years of a social worker reporting a woman who intended to have an abortion to the police. We believe this to be an isolated case and we are not aware of any policy within social services that mandates reporting women who disclose an intention of having an abortion to the police. However, such a case may very well happen again in the future.
Government and Church-run pregnancy support services may be less militant than anti-choice groups in their efforts to stop women from having abortion, but caution should be exercised anyway and as a general rule you should not disclose to these organisations that you intend to have an abortion.
Government-run pregnancy support services include Benniena and Servizz Għożża. Church-run pregnancy support services are offered by the St Jeanne Antide Foundation (SJAF).
Pro-choice organisations and services
You can speak freely about abortion with pro-choice organisations and their volunteers.
Pro-choice does not mean pro-abortion. It means respecting women's decisions whatever those might be. Pro-choice organisations will not encourage you to have an abortion, but will provide factual information and referral to legitimate abortion providers if you decide to have an abortion.
If you would like to explore options in pregnancy, including the option of abortion, you should seek advice from organisations and services that are known to be pro-choice like FPAS Malta and Abortion Support Network. For material support, you can contact the Women for Women Foundation.