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Malta outsources its abortions to other countries, with hundreds asking charities for help every year

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  • Abortion Support Network formally launched its services in Malta three years ago, on 14 February 2019
  • Since then, ASN has provided support and information to 269 people and provided £12,780 (€15,122) in grants

In three years, British charity Abortion Support Network has supported 269 clients from Malta who were seeking information, logistics and financial support to access an abortion, which remains completely criminalised in Malta. The charity has supported clients to access safe abortion pills and arrange second trimester abortions in clinics and hospitals in other European countries.  

Doctors for Choice and Women’s Rights Foundation said: 

“Last year the government of Malta had an opportunity to pass a Bill decriminalising abortion. It turned down this opportunity, stating that there should be more discussion. Every day passes under the current abortion ban is another day when the lives of women, girls, and anyone else who can become pregnant in Malta are put at unnecessary risk. 

“Here are some figures to highlight the urgency of the issue. Our Family Planning Advisory Service (FPAS) has been running since August 2020, and in its first 18 months of service it has had no less than 797 different people from Malta asking for help or information on sexual and reproductive health. An audit on a sequential sample of contacts has found that 40% of people who contact FPAS have decided to have an abortion and ask for information on abortion providers. A further 10% of people who contact FPAS have obtained abortion pills and ask about the process or about possible complications. 

“One of the more popular providers of abortion pills, Women on Web, has informed us that in 2021 it received 509 requests for abortion care from people in Malta, and provided abortion pills to 269 people. This is an increase from 261 requests in 2020, of whom 181 were provided with abortion pills. These numbers are in no way representative of the total number of people in Malta who have used abortion telemedicine services, with other popular organisations, notably Women Help Women, also providing such services. There are also many people who choose an abortion in clinic or cannot use abortion pills, and have to travel abroad to get care. 

“There is no other circumstances in Malta where hundreds of patients who need a healthcare service are not only denied the service, but are criminalised for needing such a service. Abortion bans have, time and time again, been proven to have no effect on abortion rates, and only put the health and lives of those needing abortion care at unnecessary risk. Abortion care is recognised as an essential healthcare service by the highest medical authorities, including the World Health Organisation and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, and must be legal and provided locally.” 

Mara Clarke, Director of Abortion Support Network, said: 

“Over the last three years, we have heard from hundreds of people in Malta. We are outraged to be needed and pleased to be able to support those who need it in equal measure. We are delighted to see that FPAS Malta offers local information and advice and also happy to see an increased awareness on the reputable online providers of medical abortion pills, Women Help Women and Women on Web.  

We often hear our clients tell us how alone they feel and hope for a day when the people of Malta create an environment where any person who needs an abortion feels comfortable turning to their sisters, mothers, friends and healthcare providers, rather than needing to call strangers. ASN will continue to step in where the Maltese health service is failing its residents and outsourcing its healthcare to other countries.” 

Currently Malta is the only country in Europe where abortion is completely against the law under all circumstances. In Poland, another of ASN’s jurisdictions, abortion is technically legal to save the pregnant person’s life – though we have seen in recent months that this is still often denied, with lethal consequences. ASN expanded its services to Malta on 14 February 2019, following the repeal of the eighth amendment which has led to gradually declining numbers of people having to travel from the Republic of Ireland (though many are still forced to travel despite the change in law).