Malta is the only country in the European Union that bans abortion in all circumstances. But a bill recently introduced in Parliament would change that.

The draft legislation, if adopted, would remove Malta’s strict criminal penalties for abortion—penalties that currently call for up to three years imprisonment for those procuring an abortion or helping someone to do so; and four years imprisonment for doctors who perform illegal abortions.

“This draft bill is a historic first step towards reforming one of the few remaining abortion bans in Europe. If adopted, the bill would remove harmful criminal penalties and could pave the way to allow women in Malta access to abortion care in their own country,” said Katrine Thomasen, Senior Legal Adviser for Europe at the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Marlene Farrugia, member of Malta’s Parliament, presented the bill, which aims to ensure that no person or medical professional in Malta is criminalized “for the choice pertaining to their medical health and/or the provision of medical assistance. Such criminalisation is discriminatory.”

Malta is one of only three countries in Europe that outlaw abortion in all circumstances. The others are Andorra and San Marino, which are not members of the European Union. For an overview of Europe’s abortion laws, see the Center’s comparative legal analysis.