A UK-based charity offering support to those living in countries with restrictive abortion laws has seen an increase in calls from Maltese women unable to travel to have an abortion. 

Last week Abortion Support Network received eight calls from Malta – the same number it usually deals with in one month, founder Mara Klein Clarke said. 

Most of the women who called were seeking advice on how to terminate their pregnancies with the travel ban meaning they can not fly to the UK, Klein Clarke told Times of Malta.

Around 300-400 Maltese women are estimated to travel abroad to have an abortion, which is illegal in Malta. 

Klein Clarke said that the flight ban meant even those with financial means to travel to terminate a pregnancy, could no longer do so.  

“Now any woman with an unplanned pregnancy is going to have the experience of a poor woman with an unplanned pregnancy, so I’m really hoping that this will put pressure on the government to change the law,” she said.

She said that women who were resorting to sourcing medical abortion pills faced the problem of delays due to coronavirus measures. 

She said that in the absence of abortion pills, other measures women took to terminate unwanted pregnancies were “spine-chilling” and she hoped the authorities in Malta would re-examine the issue.

Around 200 women in Malta purchase abortion pills online every year, according to Dr Gilbert Gravino from Doctors for Choice.

While the pill was generally safe to be used by most women, he explained there are those who cannot use this method of termination and rely on abortion clinics abroad either because of health issues such as blood disorders, or because of the stage of the pregnancy.

Another issue, he said, was that women currently in abusive relationships and “trapped” with their aggressors due to lockdown measures, were ending up with unwanted pregnancies as a result of rape within their own homes.

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