Over 260 women from Malta sought British charity’s help to get an abortion

Abortion Support Network has helped 269 people from Malta over the past three years to get an abortion • Abortion pill provider, Women on Web, received 509 requests last year

File photo
File photo

UK-based charity Abortion Support Network has assisted 269 people from Malta to get an abortion since it extended its services on the island three years ago.

The charity does not carry out abortions but helps with information, logistics and financial support to those wanting to have an abortion. ASN provided €15,122 (£12,780) in grants to 269 people from Malta since 2019.

Abortion remains completely criminalised in Malta, the only EU country to have such a blanket ban.

ASN has supported clients in accessing safe abortion pills and arranging second-trimester abortions in clinics and hospitals in other European countries. It extended its services to Malta on 14 February 2019, after its main target, Ireland, legalised abortion.

“Over the last three years, we have heard from hundreds of people in Malta, and we are outraged to be needed and pleased to be able to support those who need it in equal measures,” ASN Founder Mara Clarke said.

Clarke applauded the Family Planning Advisory Service (FPAS) set up by several Maltese NGOs to offer information and advice on sexual and reproductive health as well as increased awareness on online providers of medical abortion pills.

FPAS, which began in August 2020, has helped over 797 people from Malta asking for help or information on sexual and reproductive health.

The service said that 40% of people who contacted it decided to have an abortion and ask for information on abortion providers.

A further 10% of people, who contacted FPAS obtained abortion pills and asked about the process or about possible complications.

Women on Web, a popular provider of abortion pills, said they received 509 requests for abortion care from people in Malta in 2021 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,” the NGOs said.

Doctors for Choice and Women’s Rights Foundation criticised the Maltese government for failing to push a Bill decriminalising abortion that was presented by independent MP Marlene Farrugia last year.

“Government turned down this opportunity, stating that there should be more discussion. Every day that 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,” the

NGOs said. 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 but this is still often denied with lethal consequences.