How to get an abortion in Malta:
Information on abortion pills, abortion clinics, and how to get help.
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Table of Contents
Introduction and Legal Status
If you have an unwanted pregnancy and have decided to have an abortion, you will want accurate and unbiased information on abortion and how to get an abortion done. This website was written to help women in Malta get such information, help them get their abortion done in a safe way, and help them regain control of their lives and futures.
Abortion is illegal in Malta because of a law dating back to the 18th century that no government has decided to amend so far. Because of this law, women who have an abortion in Malta face up to three years in prison and doctors who carry out an abortion face up to four years in prison and may lose their licence to practice. There are no exceptions to this law, which means if you are in Malta you cannot request an abortion for any reason – not even in cases of rape or other sexual crime, or cases where the baby will not survive after birth (known as fatal fetal anomaly). This makes Malta's law on abortion the strictest in the EU.
Despite the illegal status of abortion in Malta, hundreds of women in Malta end their pregnancy each year, and no woman has been taken to court for having an abortion in recent years. However, if the police receive a complaint and decide to investigate, they can press charges against any woman who has an abortion. For this reason, women should be cautious when ordering and using abortion pills in Malta. You may want to cover your tracks, like using a temporary email address when ordering pills or deleting all conversations after you are done, and disposing carefully of all abortion pill packaging after use. Only tell people you trust that you are having an abortion with pills, and cover your phone conversations from people who you do not want to find out about your abortion.
Your Abortion Options
The abortion options and methods available to you will depend on your stage of pregnancy. When calculating how many weeks pregnant you are, make sure to count from the first day of your last period. If you are more than 8 weeks pregnant you could have an ultrasound to accurately find out how far along you are. The two main ways women in Malta have abortions are by ordering abortion pills which arrive by post and take them at their home in Malta, or by travelling to abortion clinics abroad to have a surgical abortion.
Abortion with pills, also known as medical abortion, can safely be carried out at home up to 12 weeks of pregnancy. This is according to guidance by the World Health Organisation. Beyond 12 weeks the risk of complications increases and the use of abortion pills at home is no longer recommended.
A surgical abortion is performed in a clinic using instruments to gently remove the pregnancy from your uterus and is performed from around 8 weeks of pregnancy onwards (the exact point at which surgical abortion is offered varies from clinic to clinic). Up to 14 weeks of pregnancy this is done using a simple cannula and suction (called vacuum aspiration) and is usually completed in a few minutes. It can be done under local anaesthetic or by using a mild sedative. When having a vacuum aspiration you can expect to be at the clinic for 3 to 4 hours, and the clinic costs for this procedure are usually in the region of 800 Euro. Beyond 14 weeks, a surgical abortion is performed by dilating the cervix and removing the contents of the uterus with forceps and suction (called dilation and evacuation). This is a more complex procedure that is done under a general anaesthetic. If you are having a dilation and evacuation you will need to be at the clinic for a whole day, and you may be kept overnight for observation. The clinic costs for dilation and evacuation are significantly higher than vacuum aspiration, and are usually in the region of 1,500 to 2,000 Euro.
The following table summarises the abortion options available to according to your stage of pregnancy.
Abortion with Pills
If you are less than 12 weeks pregnant, you can have an abortion with pills at home. Abortion with pills, also known as a medical abortion, has become the most common and preferred method of abortion in countries where abortion is legal. It is also probably the most common method of abortion in Malta as well. Abortion pill providers are known to send at least one abortion pill pack to women in Malta every day.
The two reliable abortion pill providers for women in Malta are Women on Web and Women Help Women. Both are reliable organisations that provide authentic abortion pills and only ask for donations to cover the cost of pills and postage. They will also ask you questions about your pregnancy and your health to make sure it is safe for you to take abortion pills.
Do NOT order abortion pills from unverified sources (see example below). These will often ask for huge sums of money and the quality of the pills cannot be verified.
How to Use Abortion Pills
The abortion pack you receive from Women on Web or Women Help Women will contain one tablet of Mifepristone (highlighted green below), and many (usually 4 to 8) smaller tablets of Misoprostol (highlighted red below).
Mifepristone (also known as Mifegynae, Mifeprex, or RU-486) is a medicine that blocks the pregnancy hormone progesterone. It is usually taken in a tablet of 200mg which is swallowed. Mifepristone helps prepare the uterus for an abortion, and makes the abortion easier. Nausea is a common side effect of Mifepristone. Misoprostol (the second abortion pill) is usually taken 24 hours after Mifepristone. If you vomit after taking Mifepristone, you can still continue the abortion with Misoprostol the next day.
Misoprostol (also known as Cytotec or Misodel) is a medicine of the prostaglandin analogue class that causes the uterus to contract and remove the pregnancy, causing an abortion. Misoprostol tablets are usually of a strength of 200mcg each and are small and hexagonal in shape. Four Misoprostol tablets (800mcg total dose) are placed under the tongue for 30 minutes, where they are absorbed. Do not swallow Misoprostol. Bleeding and cramps usually start within a few minutes to a few hours after taking Misoprostol. If bleeding does not start after three hours of taking Misoprostol, or if you are more than 9 weeks pregnant, you should take a second dose of Misoprostol by placing another four tablets under the tongue for another 30 minutes. If you are feeling sick by that point, you can insert Misoprostol tablets in the vagina instead. However, remember that using abortion pills in Malta is illegal, and if a doctor finds pill residue in your vagina it may raise suspicions.
Here is a summary of how to use abortion pills:
Take Mifepristone 200mg. Swallow the tablet with water. Wait 24 hours.
Place four Misoprostol 200mcg tablets under your tongue for 30 minutes. You can then spit out the remains.
Bleeding should start in a few minutes to a few hours. If there is no bleeding within three hours, take a second dose of Misoprostol by repeating step 2. You may also need to repeat step 2 if you are more than 8 weeks pregnant – refer to the instructions that come with your abortion pill pack. If you are feeling too nauseated to put Misoprostol in your mouth, you can put it in your vagina instead.
Ideally, you should have someone you trust with you when using abortion pills at home. Do not consume alcohol or sedatives when using abortion pills in case you need to call for help. You should be within 60 minutes of a hospital when using abortion pills, in case you need help. This is not a problem in Malta and Gozo because all parts of these islands are within 60 minutes of a hospital.
Make sure you take out any tampons before taking Misoprostol. You should wear maxi pads during the abortion so that you can have an idea of how much blood is coming out. If you fill four or more maxi pads in two hours, you will need to seek medical help.
How to Order Abortion Pills
Women on Web usually ask for a donation of around 100 Euro. Their shipments usually arrive in one to two weeks and they are considered to be very reliable. To order from Women on Web go to https://www.womenonweb.org/en/i-need-an-abortion and click Start Consultation (see below). You will then be asked to answer questions about your pregnancy and your health. They will ask you to provide an address where you will receive the abortion pills. Once you have completed the online form you will receive an email and be asked to donate. Go to https://www.womenonweb.org/en/donate to donate, and make sure to include your reference number. The abortion pill pack will then be shipped to your address.
If you need help ordering from Women on Web, you have questions on how to use the pills, or your pills have not arrived as planned, you can contact Women on Web by sending them an email on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Women Help Women is the other major reputable organisation that sends abortion pills to Malta. They usually ask for a donation of around 75 Euro. Abortion pills from Women Help Women have in the past taken slightly longer to arrive than those from Women on Web, but Women Help Women have recently improved their shipping times to Malta. The process of ordering from Women Help Women is similar to that of Women on Web. Go to https://consult.womenhelp.org/get-abortion-pills?z_language=en and click Start (see below) to do an online consultation where you will be asked questions about your health and pregnancy. You will then be asked for a donation, and after you pay the abortion pills will be sent to the address you specify.
If you have difficulty paying your donation, please tell the organisation you are ordering from and negotiate a price with them. They may still be able to help you even if you cannot pay the full amount. If your pills do not arrive in two weeks, contact the organisation you ordered them from. They may still be able to provide you with an abortion pill kit, even if you are close to the 12 week deadline.
If you need help ordering from Women Help Women, you have questions on how to use the pills, or your pills have not arrived as planned, you can contact Women Help Women by sending them an email on email@example.com.
After using Abortion Pills and Seeking Help
Bleeding and cramps are to be expected after taking the second abortion pill Misoprostol. The bleeding is usually heavier than a typical period and may last from a few days to two weeks. Cramps can be quite strong and Ibuprofen (sold over the counter in Malta and Gozo) can help relieve the pain. It is common to see clots or pieces of tissue with the blood, but it is highly unlikely that you would see a formed fetus.
Around 9 out of 10 of all women who use abortion pills at home will miscarry without the need of medical help. However, it you experience any of the following complications you will need to seek medical help:
Severe blood loss, especially if you start to feel weak
Severe pain that does not respond to pain killers
A smelly vaginal discharge
For more information about possible complications after an abortion, visit the NHS UK website.
You can seek help by going to hospital and informing staff that you are having a miscarriage. There is no blood test, or other test, that can differentiate an abortion with pills from a natural miscarriage. You may be asked by doctors whether you have taken abortion pills. Keep in mind that if you disclose having taken abortion pills in Malta, you may be reported to the police. Doctors do not need to know you took abortion pills because any miscarriage is treated along the same the lines, regardless of whether it is natural or caused by abortion pills.
If you still have minor symptoms two weeks after taking abortion pills, and wish to have an ultrasound to make sure everything is alright, you can book a private clinic appointment with a trusted gynaecologist.
There is a small possibility (less than one of twenty cases) of the pregnancy continuing after taking abortion pills. You can confirm whether abortion pills worked by taking a pregnancy test after 2-3 weeks. If it is positive, there is a chance the pregnancy could have continued and you should have an ultrasound to see what is going on. If the pregnancy has continued, you can take another course of Mifepristone or Misoprostol if you are still less than 12 weeks pregnancy. Otherwise, you can opt to have a surgical abortion abroad.
Abortion Clinics Abroad
The other main way women in Malta have abortions is by travelling to clinics abroad. This usually involves the following:
Identifying appropriate countries and clinics.
Contacting clinics and agreeing appointment dates and prices.
Booking flights and accommodation.
In this section we highlight the countries where women from Malta commonly get an abortion, a list of clinics that offer abortion services (and sometimes discounted prices) to women from Malta, and who you can contact for help, guidance, and financial help when booking your abortion abroad.
Choosing a Country
Your choice of country to travel to will depend on two main factors: the abortion law in that country and your travel documents.
Most EU countries, with notable exceptions of Poland and Malta, allow abortion on demand in the first trimester of pregnancy. The United Kingdom (UK) and the Netherlands have particularly progressive abortion laws and they allow second trimester abortions as well (up to 24 weeks in the UK and up to 22-23 weeks in the Netherlands). The UK has no limit at all in cases where the fetus has a severe anomaly.
The abortion limit in Spain is 14 weeks, and in Italy it is 90 days (between 12 and 13 weeks). Be careful about people who offer an abortion in Sicily. There have been reports of women who paid several thousand Euro for an abortion in Sicily and have concerns about the quality of care they received.
If you live in Malta, you are likely to be either an EU/EEA/Swiss citizen, or a third country national on a Schengen Short Stay Visa (category C) or a Maltese Long Stay Visa (category D). All of these allow you to travel to Schengen countries without needing additional paperwork. These are the countries that currently form part of the Schengen area: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
The most notable omission from this list is the United Kingdom, which is not part of the Schengen zone. The UK has its own list of nationalities that do not need a visa to enter. Maltese and other EU citizens do not need a visa to enter the UK, but from October 2021 they will no longer be able to enter with an ID card and will need a valid passport. You can check whether you need a UK visa here: https://www.gov.uk/check-uk-visa
Choosing a Clinic
The next step is to choose a clinic that will provide abortion services to you. The following is a list of clinics in England, the Netherlands, and Spain, that offer abortion services to women from Malta. Most of these clinics are located near airports and some will even provide you with a taxi service.
(Important: From October 2021, you will need a valid passport to enter the UK.)
Tel: +44 1614 872 660
British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS)
Tel: +44 1789 416 569
London (West, East and South) Liverpool, Leamington Spa, Birmingham and other UK locations
Tel: +44 3453 003 737
Liverpool Women’s Hospital
They have a Foetal Medicine Unit for those with a diagnosis of Fatal Foetal Anomaly.
(Schengen country: Maltese ID Card or Maltese Residence Permit are sufficient for travel).
Vrelinghuis Utrecht (Closest airport: Amsterdam)
Tel: +31 302333542
Treatment up to 22nd week of pregnancy
Stichting Abortuskliniek Amsterdam (Closest airport: Amsterdam)
Treatment up to 18 weeks of pregnancy
Bloemenhove in Heemstede (Closest airport: Amsterdam)
Phone: +31 235289890
Treatment up to 23 weeks of pregnancy
(Schengen country: Maltese ID Card or Maltese Residence Permit are sufficient for travel).
Note: The abortion limit in Spain is 14 weeks, which is significantly lower than that of the UK or Netherlands.
Ginesur, Clínica Algeciras/Campo De Gibraltar
C/ Juan González, 3, 11204 Algeciras
Tel: +34 956 61 24 65
Ginesur, Clínica Málaga Centro Medico
C/ Andalucía nº 18 29009, Malaga
Tel: +34 952 39 22 22
Calle Alemania, 15, 29001, Málaga
Tel: +34 952 30 47 16
Book Flights and Accommodation
After you have contacted an abortion clinic, made sure that they can offer the service you need, and arranged an appointment and time, you will need to book flights and accommodation. If you are less than 14 weeks pregnant and are going to have a vacuum aspirtation, you can expect to be in the clinic for 3-4 hours and recovery is usually rapid because no general anaesthetic is needed. If you are more than 14 weeks pregnant and are going to have a dilation and evacuation, you will need to attend the clinic a day before the procedure for cervical preparation, and on the day of the procedure you can expect to be at the clinic for a whole day. You may also be asked to stay at the clinic overnight for observation. Keep these in mind when deciding how long to book accommodation for.
Before you go, make sure you know your own medical history, your current medications (if any), and your drug allergies (if any). Remember that abortion clinics abroad will not have access to your medical record in Malta. You should also travel with someone you trust, whenever possible.
Get Help from Abortion Support Network
Arranging a trip to an abortion clinic abroad can be quite complex, especially during the current pandemic. If you want guidance and advice on how to book contact Abortion Support Network (ASN). ASN is a UK-based charity that assists women in Malta who need to travel for an abortion abroad. They can help you find appropriate clinics, book flights and accommodation, and can even help pay for part of your abortion costs if you cannot afford it.
Contact Abortion Support Network by calling 27780991 or 20341685. If they do not answer the phone, leave them an answer phone message and they will call you back. You can also send them an email on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pro-Choice Organisations in Malta
The following are pro-choice organisations and services in Malta:
Allied Health Care for Choice
Young Progressive Beings
Avoid the Anti-Choice
In Malta there is a strong presence of anti-abortion groups, and some of them even receive government funding for their operations. They are known to deceive women by pretending to offer abortion information to stop them from having abortions. Their tactics include giving out false information and harassing women who are going to have abortions. They may even report you to the police.
LifeNetwork Foundation Malta is an organisation affiliated with the anti-LGBT and anti-women’s rights group Agenda Europe. They are against abortion and contraception in all forms. Through their “pregnancy crisis service” Life Line Malta they give out misinformation such as stating that the morning after pill causes abortion, that Mifepristone can be “reversed” (this is not the case), or that women regret their abortions (when in fact studies show that over 95% of women do not regret their abortion and believe they have made the right choice). LifeNetwork also operates a “shelter” called Dar Tgħanniqa t’Omm.
If you are seeking an abortion, you should stay away from these groups and any services they offer.