Maltese women asking for help to get abortions surged during COVID-19, UK-based charity Abortion Support Network told Lovin Malta.
According to their figures, they helped a total of 87 women terminate their pregnancies this year, already exceeding last year’s total of 75.
The charity, which supports women in countries with restrictive abortion laws, explained that from February 2019, in which they began extending their services to Malta, they would see to around seven people a month.
But in 2020, this figure ballooned.
This year, numbers jumped from February (9 calls) to March (15 calls), coinciding with the grounding of all commercial flights to mitigate COVID-19. This also meant that one of the only legal channel for women seeking abortions was closed.
Meanwhile, April saw 11 cases, May 19 and June just four.
It could be that June’s figure dropped as people preempted the reopening of the airport, ASN founder Mara Clarke remarked.
The charity continues to help Maltese women in need despite the reopening of the airport, for necessities like funding, accommodation and advice.
In fact, figures have hardly dropped as July reported 13 women and August nine.
Malta is one of the last countries on the planet with a blanket ban on abortion. And while the issue is still considered taboo, the debate has geared up in the last two years.
ASN helped at least 83 women received get abortions last year, but this hardly paints the full picture, with many opting to terminate their pregnancies in countries like the UK, Spain, France and Italy or procure internet pills.
Recently, medical unions have proposed controversial, eleventh-hour demands to include a clause in Malta’s Equality Law to ensure a right to conscientious objection due to fears that it could open a backdoor to abortion.
Update: A previous version of this article said that the Abortion Support Network helped 83 women get abortions last year. It is in fact 75.
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