Alone on an Island: The Impact Of COVID-19 Containment Measures on Access to Abortion Care in Malta

Kwolek, Erin

Malta is a small, predominantly Catholic island-nation in the Mediterranean ocean where there is a complete ban on abortion – there are no exemptions for rape, incest, fetal anomalies, or to save a pregnant woman’s life. Both medical and surgical abortions are illegal. Those who choose to end pregnancies have often sought abortion care outside of Malta, traveling abroad at great personal cost. Medical care in Malta is otherwise free at the point of care. Options for pregnancy termination within Malta are essentially non-existent as there is great public support for the Maltese abortion ban. As the government of Malta imposed travel restrictions in the interest of containing the spread of SARS-CoV2, women faced further limitations in their ability to access safe, effective abortion care in other countries. Many women have ordered medications online and have self-managed their abortion care. Women who have had abortions or people who facilitate abortions in Malta face criminal charges. Women who seek medical management of complications of self-managed abortions do so with the possibility of facing legal charges. Denying women access to safe and private abortion care can cause significant physical, psychological, and social effects and unfairly harms those experiencing an unwanted pregnancy. Given the global COVID pandemic and in the event of future pandemics wherein lockdowns may be indicated to maintain public health and safety, the Maltese government has a responsibility to ensure access to safe abortion care whether abroad or self-managed and such care should be decriminalized.


  • thumnail for Kwolek_2021_Alone on an Island.pdf Kwolek_2021_Alone on an Island.pdf application/pdf 159 KB Download File

Also Published In

Voices in Bioethics

More About This Work

Published Here
August 29, 2022


Abortion, Malta, Reproductive Care, COVID-19, Illegal Health Care, Pregnancy, Catholicism