Malta’s population is marginally in favour of abortion when the mother’s life is at risk but the majority of people do not believe it is acceptable under any other circumstance, according to a survey commissioned by Times of Malta.

The survey found that a third of the public supports abortion when the mother’s health is in danger, whilst just over a quarter believes that it should not be allowed under any circumstance.

These findings come as Malta debates the introduction of a controversial amendment which would allow doctors to terminate pregnancies if the woman's life or health is in “grave danger”. The amendment’s wording was met with criticism from anti-abortion civil society groups as well as the Nationalist Party.

A revised version of the amendment is set to be presented to parliament shortly, following changes to its wording.

Support for abortion decreases with age

Younger people are more likely to be in favour of allowing abortion, with over one in five people under 35 saying it should be permitted in all circumstances. Almost two-thirds of 16 to 24 year-olds support abortion when a mother’s life is in danger.

On the other hand, almost 50% of people over the age of 65 think abortion should not be permitted under any circumstance.

People over 45 show significantly less support for abortion when there’s a risk to the mother’s health as well as in cases when the pregnancy is a result of rape, compared to their younger counterparts.

Respondents were asked to select from a list of circumstances in which they believe abortion is acceptable. They could select multiple options or indicate that they believe that abortion is either acceptable or unacceptable in all circumstances.

Curiously, women are less inclined to be in favour of abortion in all situations and are more likely to believe that it should be banned in all circumstances, even when the woman’s life is at risk.

PL voters marginally in favour of abortion

While the two main parties have expressed different positions regarding the issue of abortion, this split is also reflected in the opinions of their voter base.

PL voters show higher levels of support for abortion in all situations, with markedly higher rates in cases of risk to the mother’s health and when the fetus has a severe abnormality.

Similarly, a third of all PN voters believe abortion should be banned under all circumstances, compared to one in five PL voters.


Nonetheless, PN voters show a similar level of support for abortion in cases where the mother’s health is at risk as they do for a total ban on abortion, suggesting that whether or not a legal amendment should allow abortion on health grounds remains a bone of contention even among PN voters.

The survey, carried out by market research firm Esprimi, collected responses between 9th and 16th March. The survey is based on a sample of 600 respondents with a margin of error of 4%.

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