No woman in Malta should live her life in fear of stigma or prison for getting an abortion, Dr Andrea Dibben from Women’s Rights Foundation said.
In an interview on TVM today, Dibben spoke about the reported surge in women in Malta seeking abortions during the pandemic, in which the only channel of access was cut off with the grounding of commercial flights.
“The problem that has concerned us the most in these last three months is the fear women who get abortions have they’ll get caught and end up in prison,” Dibben warned.
“The need for abortion has remained despite the pandemic.”
“Women continued to call for help, in fact, the number actually doubled, doctors reported more women going to the local emergency ward with miscarriages and suspected abortions. At the end of the day, if you end the legal way to get an abortion, abortions still occur,” she continued.
She emphasised that the only way to reduce abortions is not through law but through a clear emphasis on sex education and access to contraception.
There has also been a rise in suspicious pages on Facebook claiming to sell abortion pills.
“They could be real but we won’t know what they’re actually providing. It could be too low a dose or something else entirely. Or they could arrive too late, and the woman takes them anyway,” Dibben said.
At least 58 women in Malta terminated their pregnancies in the UK last year. The true figure is larger, with some seeking the procedure in other European countries like Italy, France, Germany and Spain.
Meanwhile, UK-based charity Abortion Support Network warned of the surge in requests for abortions during the pandemic, reporting more emails from women in Malta in a week than they would in a month of the previous year.