As France makes abortion a constitutional right, UK women see sharp rise in abortion convictions

A law dating from 1861 is being used to prosecute women in England and Wales, in at least one case leading to incarceration.

March 4, 2024

France has become the only country in the world to protect the right to terminate a pregnancy in its constitution after abortion access was officially added to the freedoms guaranteed in the French constitution on Monday. The move was a direct reaction to the rollback of abortion rights in the United States and elsewhere.

But across the English Channel, women are still at risk of prosecution for having the procedure because abortion in the UK has not been decriminalised. Britain is facing a sharp rise in abortion convictions, with a law dating from 1861 being used to prosecute women and in at least one case leading to incarceration.  


British abortion law is a medieval nightmare

An increasing number of women are being prosecuted for procuring abortions and face the possibility of life imprisonment. Why are we being so polite about this outrage?

Zoe Williams
Tue 6 Feb 2024

When it emerged last year that six women had been prosecuted in Great Britain for procuring abortions, that was a little more than a blip: it was twice as many women, in a single year, as had been taken to court in the previous 160 years combined. Behind those cases, of course, there’s an unknown number of women who were investigated but cleared, so their phones were seized, they were prevented from contact with their children, they were questioned under caution with the possibility of life imprisonment when they’d just had a miscarriage. All these women lived, if not their worst, then surely their most medieval, nightmare, and some are living it as we speak.

The natural question was: what the hell was going on? Had the police lost their minds? (When the Guardian asked one force about its actions last year, it chose to lie about them, which surprised me.) Was the director of public prosecutions anti-abortion? (Max Hill KC declined to comment.) Had medics suffered some kind of group amnesia around patient confidentiality? (The police generally become involved only when they’re alerted by a doctor or midwife.) All that is still possible, but when I spoke to the campaign organisation Doctors for Choice, it exhibited the kind of pragmatism you look for in a doctor. Never mind the finger-pointing – change the law.


Malta – Abortion change that preserved the status quo

In stark contrast, the Diluted Amendment limits the scope of who may access the necessary treatment, since it requires that the life or health of the patient must be ‘in grave jeopardy which may lead to death’

Neil Muscat
14 October 2023

In the past months, Malta has witnessed the diluted version of Bill 28 (the ‘Diluted Amendment’) (Act XXII of 2023) signed into law by the President.

Prime Minister Robert Abela had touted the former Criminal Code amendment (the ‘Original Amendment’) as a way to protect women's lives and health, saying these principles were ‘non-negotiable'.


Malta – Abortion: Uncomfortably numb

While fully recognising the government’s attempt to bring some sanity to Malta’s strict anti-abortion law, we urge the Prime Minister to move beyond discomfort. Politicians cannot be ‘uncomfortably numb’ to the pain, fear and stigmatisation Maltese women must endure because abortion remains a criminal act

11 June 2023

Robert Abela is arguably the first Maltese Prime Minister to openly speak about the realities of abortion from the woman’s perspective, and to push for a change in legislation.

Meek though government’s attempt may be, to decriminalise abortion in two very limited circumstances – if a woman’s life is in danger, or her health is in grave jeopardy – it has to be recognised for what it is; a bold attempt to change Malta’s draconian anti-abortion law.


Record’ number of abortion pills sent to Malta in 2022

Doctors for Choice say 424 pills were sent to Malta, up from 356 in 2021

December 26, 2022
Daniel Ellu

A record number of abortion pills - 424- were sent to Malta this year, the pro-choice organisation Doctors for Choice claimed on Monday.  The organisation said 356 pills were sent in 2021.

“As an abortion rights organisation based in Malta, we consider the increase in abortion pill packs sent to Malta by reputable online telemedicine providers to be a positive thing,” Doctors for Choice said in a statement.


Malta – Stand In Front Of Parliament With Us During Abortion Bill Vote, Doctors For Choice Urges Public

by Tim Diacono
December 11, 2022

Leading pro-choice NGO Doctors for Choice has urged people who agree with the proposed abortion bill to stand with them in front of Parliament when the vote is taken.

“On 19th December we, along with other NGOs and like-minded people, will be in front of Parliament for the Parliamentary vote on Bill 28,” Doctors for Choice said.


‘Necessary to Disobey Harmful Laws’: These ‘Abortion Pirates’ Want Equal Access to Abortion Pills Worldwide

A colorful crowd of doctors, researchers and women’s activists convened in the Latvian capital to explore ways to use pills to circumvent anti-abortion laws.


RIGA, Latvia — For two sunny, crisp autumn days in mid-September, Riga’s Stradiņš University felt like the epicenter of a self-styled global civil rights movement: to give every person, in every culture or country, regardless of laws, access to abortion pills.

In the hallways, women pored over posters showing the latest research on the effectiveness of abortion pills and other developments in abortion and contraception care. Representatives from pharmaceutical companies enthusiastically pitched their medications and products to doctors sipping coffee and tea during a break between panels. There were graphic novels about an at-home medical abortion and T-shirts printed with women’s self-stated reasons for ending a pregnancy; there were slogans printed on T-shirts like “Make Abortion Legal Again” and a video promoting abortion rights to the tune of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.”


Malta proposes bill to ease EU’s strictest anti-abortion law

Malta’s government has introduced legislation to ease the European Union’s strictest anti-abortion law and allow the procedure in cases where the mother’s life or health is at risk

November 21, 2022

VALLETTA, Malta -- Malta’s government introduced proposed legislation Monday to ease the European Union’s strictest anti-abortion law and allow the procedure in cases where the mother’s life or health is at risk.

The move comes after a headline-grabbing case involving an American tourist who miscarried and was airlifted off the Mediterranean island to get treatment.


Malta: The only EU country where abortion is illegal leaves women scared

By Jessica Parker and Sira Thierij, BBC News, Malta
Aug 11, 2022

Alone, in her family bathroom, a woman secretly searches for information about abortion on her phone. This was Maria - not her real name - after finding out she was pregnant.

"I was scared," she says. "I didn't know what the police [would] do. I thought maybe they would be searching for people googling the word abortion. And then you obviously get paranoid and your thoughts get carried away."


Poland’s ban on abortion forces many to seek help in Germany

A Berlin-based activist group seeks to aid the rising number of women seeking help with abortion in Poland.

By Gouri Sharma
Published On 8 Aug 2022

For Zuzu*, an activist with the Berlin-based group Ciocia Basia that assists people seeking an abortion in neighbouring Poland, fielding calls is just one of many responsibilities she carries out.

Following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, Zuzu and other activists working with partner organisation Abortion Without Borders (AWB) told Al Jazeera that the number of calls they are receiving has increased.