Malta has the most inhumane abortion law in Europe.
Malta's criminal law prohibits the termination of pregnancy under all circumstances. The law has no exceptions whatsoever, which means abortion in Malta is banned even in the following scenarios:
Cases of severe fetal anomaly, even when the neonate has no chance of survival outside the womb.
Cases of pregnancy resulting from rape, incest, or other sexual crime.
Cases of underage pregnancy.
Cases where the pregnant person's physical or mental health is at risk.
Cases where the pregnant person's life is at risk.
The criminal law in Malta condems women who have abortions to fines and jail terms or up to three years. Doctors in Malta who prescribe abortion pills or carry out abortions face a four year jail term and a permanent revocation of their licence to practice.
This is what Malta's law prohibiting abortion states:
Criminal Code of Malta
Article 241 (1) Whosoever, by any food, drink, medicine, or by violence, or by any other means whatsoever, shall cause the miscarriage of any woman with child, whether the woman be consenting or not, shall, on conviction, be liable to imprisonment for a term from eighteen months to three years.
Article 241 (2) The same punishment shall be awarded against any woman who shall procure her own miscarriage, or who shall have consented to the use of the means by which the miscarriage is procured.’
Article 243 Any physician, surgeon, obstetrician, or apothecary, who shall have knowingly prescribed or administered the means whereby the miscarriage is procured, shall, on conviction, be liable to imprisonment for a term from eighteen months to four years, and to perpetual interdiction from the exercise of his profession.’
Some people argue that Malta allows abortion in cases of immiment risk to the pregnant person's life through the principle of double effect. This was also the principle used in the Republic of Ireland for several years, until the death of Savita Halappanavar laid bare the dangers of double effect and prompted reform of Ireland's abortion laws. This is because in countries where abortion is banned and doctors have to rely on the principle of double effect to justify an abortion when the pregnant person's life is at risk, doctors will be reluctant to cause the death of the fetus because they might be charged with a criminal offence. This can lead to life saving treatment being delayed and, as happened in Savita's case, it may cost the pregnant person their life.
Malta's blanket prohibition of abortion is inhumane and a violation of women's human rights. The blanket prohibition of abortion is also a violation of doctors' rights to practice medicine and surgery according to the guidelines of reputable medical authorities, such as the World Health Organisation and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, which consider abortion an essential area of women's healthcare. To read more about the effects of Malta's ban on abortion, read the position paper prepared by Doctors for Choice Malta by clicking here.
The aim of the Voice for Choice coalition is to decriminalise abortion in Malta and to have abortion regulated like any other medical or surgical procedure. Women who have abortions must never face any criminal or civil penalties.
Abortion Laws in EU/EEA/CH/UK Map:
Green: Allowed on request: All countries apart from those mentioned below.
Lime: Allowed in most cases: UK and Finland
Orange: Allowed only in cases where maternal life is at risk, rape, and fetal impairment: Poland
Red: Banned in all circumstances: Malta