Maltese women have abortions | Mara Clarke

Whether you as an individual agree or disagree with abortion is irrelevant. Your beliefs will not stop the reality, which is that women and girls in Malta have unintended pregnancies, and they will continue to have abortions

I know they do, because I field calls and emails from Maltese residents asking for reputable providers of abortion pills or which clinics in which countries are easiest to travel to. The charity I work for, Abortion Support Network, also gives grants towards the cost of travelling abroad for an abortion, which can range from £700 to £3000 or more when you consider the cost of abortion, travel, accommodation and these days, Covid tests.

Since we expanded our services to Malta in February 2019, we have heard from more than 200 people seeking our help accessing abortions. Callers have been girls in their teens and women in their 40s. They have been married, divorced, separated, single, in or escaping abusive relationships, victims of sexual violence, parents of several children, childless, with wanted pregnancies diagnosed with serious issues. Some were professional working women, others were homeless, migrants, refugees, or students. All were pregnant. All wanted to end their pregnancies and needed help navigating the many obstacles that exist when you live in a country where abortion is illegal.

“Please help me. I am pregnant and I can’t tell anyone what is going on or they might stop me. I can’t continue this pregnancy and please I’m so scared” – ASN client from Malta

“I am pregnant and I need an abortion. I have one child and can’t afford to have another one. Please help me” – ASN client from Malta

Helping people in Malta access abortions is heart-breaking. How sad and lonely it must be for women and girls in Malta to feel unable to call their parents, partners, siblings, cousins, best friends, for help when they cannot continue a pregnancy. This is what the law in Malta does.

It’s also frustrating. We hear from people who have not had any sex education, who think you calculate how far in pregnancy you are by counting days from when you have sex (it’s from the first day of your last menstrual period), people who don’t know you can still have periods while pregnant, that you can get pregnant while breastfeeding, that the film “The Silent Scream” accurately reflects what happens during an abortion. The lack of information is mind-boggling.

“I need to abort asap, I’m 5-6 weeks pregnant please help me this stupid island is stopped in the middle age” – ASN client from Malta

“My partner raped me when I tried to leave and is very violent towards me, even more now that I am pregnant. I need to leave him. Please help me to not have this baby” – ASN client from Malta

Helping people from Malta access abortions is rewarding, because the funding given by ASN makes abortion accessible to anyone. Making abortion illegal doesn’t stop it – it just stops abortion for those who do not have access to the information and funding required to have one. Those with money can travel for abortions but poor or marginalised people cannot. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, people knew that if worst came to worst, they could travel abroad. Then Malta closed its airport. Suddenly ASN was getting calls from people asking what would happen if they got pregnant and needed an abortion, and frantic calls from people who had ordered medical abortion pills from Women on Web and Women Help Women because of extremely delayed postal deliveries. In some ways, not only did Covid-19 make everyone – rich or poor – in Malta aware of how oppressive Malta’s abortion law is, it also raised awareness about obtaining medical abortion pills online.

“Hello I am stressed beyond words about potentially being pregnant, but before I take a test I want to make sure I know all my options, because I’m going insane at the thought” – ASN client from Malta

“I am pregnant, and I know pills would be easiest, but if they don’t arrive, I’d have to travel during Covid, which scares me. I never thought I would be in this position” – ASN client from Malta

Helping people in Malta obtain abortions reminds me to judge not, lest I be judged. So many people who contact Abortion Support Network tell us they were completely pro-life… until their much-wanted pregnancy was diagnosed with a catastrophic foetal abnormality. Until their daughter was raped. Until their husband started beating them during pregnancy. Until they lost their job. People who were completely against abortion – until they or someone they loved needed an abortion. These are not hypocrites. They need help and we help them as we help everyone who contacts us. We don’t ask people how they got pregnant or why they want an abortion. We don’t ask them if they are for or against abortion. Our only criteria are the caller’s financial need and our availability of funds. This is because we believe the right to decide whether to end a pregnancy rests solely with the person who is pregnant. We also believe that “I can’t afford an abortion” should never be the only reason someone continues a pregnancy.

Whether you as an individual agree or disagree with abortion is irrelevant. Your beliefs will not stop the reality, which is that women and girls in Malta have unintended pregnancies, and they will continue to have abortions. What the law in Malta does is make it so that if your sister, wife, partner, best friend, mother, cousin, or niece gets pregnant and doesn’t know what to do, she will be too afraid to come to you for help and support.

“A Harmony Test has shown that our much-loved baby has a disability. I want to do the amniocentesis test to find out for sure, but it isn’t available in Malta. Do you have any advice on where I can get this test, as quickly as possible?” – ASN client from Malta

We were thrilled when a year ago FPAS Malta opened their help line offering factual information about all pregnancy options. I believe that publicly pro-choice groups such as Voice for Choice, Doctors for Choice, Young Progressive Beings, Break the Taboo, the Women’s Rights Foundation and others, are starting to chip away at the public perception that everyone in Malta is against abortion, and that anyone in Malta who needs an abortion should feel ashamed and alone. ASN looks forward to a time when women and girls in Malta are able to follow in the steps of their sisters in Ireland, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man and, most recently, Gibraltar, and are able to access abortions legally. That day will come!

If you are pregnant and need help obtaining an abortion, please visit for more information.