For Release 27th September 2019
43 women from Malta contact British charity for abortion help while 100s more seek tablets online.
Malta’s first ever prochoice March highlights injustice of draconian law
Since opening to Malta on 14 February 2019, UK charity Abortion Support Network (ASN) has heard from 43 women resident in Malta looking for information about abortion abroad. At the same time, online providers of early medical abortion pills received inquiries from hundreds of Maltese residents seeking information on how to access tablets to abort at home.
These numbers show what activist have known for years – that making abortion against the law doesn’t stop abortion but forces women and pregnant people to travel abroad or look online for healthcare. It’s appalling that, when faced with an unwanted or non-viable pregnancy, women in Malta with financial resources can access abortion abroad, while those with less money are forced to risk criminal prosecution by ordering tablets from the internet. Some take dangerous and desperate methods to self-abort.
ASN is joining prochoice activists from around Malta for Malta’s first ever prochoice march. Voice for Choice will be organising Malta’s first Rally for Choice in Valetta, Hastings, at 14:00. The international focus of this year’s theme is #MyAbortionMyHealth thus the main aim of this year’s event is to raise awareness on the challenges that pregnant people in Malta face to access safe abortion services as well as challenge the stigma and taboo on Maltese women who have abortions. The activities will include a variety of art, music, drama, interviews and speeches and aim to appeal to a varied crowd including families, young people and adults.
ASN’s Chief Executive Ruth Taylor said:
“The people who contacted ASN from Malta ranged in age from 19 to 45. Queries to the charity included those looking for unbiased pregnancy options counselling, the names of reputable providers of safe early medical abortion pills, information on abortion clinics abroad and for financial assistance with the costs. Some clients were delayed in accessing abortion by anti-abortion organisations providing misinformation, some were under the incorrect impression that travelling for abortion was against the law in Malta, at least two were pregnant as a result of sexual assault and a further two had pregnancies diagnosed with severe foetal abnormalities. ASN’s helpline provided information and awarded funding to cover the costs of telephone consultations, travel costs, and abortion services abroad.
We only know the numbers of people who have contacted our helpline or the services of the providers of early medical abortion pills that we have relationships with. We do not know the numbers of people who go to other websites to try and access tablets, those who do not need ASN’s support to travel, or those who travel to other countries for abortion. What these numbers – each one representing an actual human being – do show is that Malta’s abortion law is not preventing abortion, and that better reproductive health services are desperately needed.
I am proud to be attending Malta’s first ever March for Choice to support the activists looking to change the abortion law here, and to show solidarity with any woman or pregnant person who finds themselves in need of our services.”
Dr Lara Dimitrijevic from Voice for Choice says:
“Abortion is reality for women in Malta and has always been so, no matter how hard the state and the society keep their eyes closed and pretend it is not there. The state is failing in its duty to provide abortion care, something that is basic and essential part of women’s healthcare. We are therefore thankful that ASN decided to extend its services to Malta, fill in the gap and support women from Malta betrayed by their own society.”
For Abortion Support Network: Ruth Taylor, Chief Executive, [email protected], +44 (0) 7507 871 517
For Voice for Choice: Dr Lara Dimitrijevic, Spokesperson, [email protected], +356 (0) 79708 615
Notes for Editors
1. About Abortion Support Network
Abortion Support Network (ASN) is a charity that provides financial assistance, confidential, non-judgmental information and accommodation in volunteer homes to people forced to travel from Ireland, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man (and now Malta and Gibraltar!) and pay privately for abortions in England. The cost ranges between £400 and £2000 or more depending on circumstance and stage of pregnancy. While many organisations campaign for much needed law reform, ASN is the only group providing those travelling for abortions with the thing they need most immediately: money. www.asn.org.uk
2. About Voice for Choice
Voice for Choice is composed of seven civil society organisations and number of individuals that represent various sectors of society that together want to work for reproductive rights and justice in Malta.
Our aim is to raise awareness in the community and combat the stigma and shame surrounding abortion, as well as providing up to date information to support evidence-based policy. The coalition is lobbying for decriminalization of abortion to ensure that all pregnant persons, irrespective of their gender, ethnicity, beliefs or age are supported, respected and protected whatever their choices. Email: [email protected]