Andrea Prudente’s hospital file was presented in court on Friday by a Mater Dei representative, to be kept under seal as part of legal proceedings.
Prudente is claiming that her fundamental rights were breached when doctors refused to terminate her pregnancy after her waters broke at 16 weeks.
The American woman and her partner, Jay Weeldreyer, were on a babymoon in Malta in June when she suffered symptoms of miscarriage, including heavy bleeding. She was admitted to Mater Dei hospital where she was kept under observation.
Medical professionals informed the couple that there was no fluid and that “the baby is going to die,” but the couple’s request for the pregnancy to be terminated due to the risks of maternal infection was turned down.
Doctors explained that since there was a foetal heartbeat, they could not terminate the pregnancy because Maltese law placed a blanket ban on abortion. They could only intervene if the mother’s life was at risk.
After consulting her insurance company, which deemed the patient’s life to be at risk, Prudente was airlifted to a Spanish hospital for the termination of her non-viable pregnancy.
Her case made global headlines.
The government subsequently announced legislative amendments that would allow doctors to terminate a pregnancy when a woman’s life or health was at serious risk.
Following her ordeal, Prudente filed a constitutional case against the State Advocate, the Health Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary for Reforms and Equality, claiming that she had been subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment and that her life had been placed at risk.
In her court application, the woman explained that after her much-awaited pregnancy, she had been through a “very traumatic” experience on account of which she was still suffering, to date.
She claimed that the lack of protection and access to medical treatment which she had faced in Malta constituted a breach of her rights as a woman, in terms of the Constitution as well as in light of European and International laws.
When the case resumed on Friday before the First Hall, Civil Court in its constitutional jurisdiction, one of the applicant’s lawyers, Lara Dimitrjevic, presented a special power of attorney granted by Prudente to formally represent her in the proceedings.
A Mater Dei representative was then called to the witness stand to present Prudente’s medical file.
The document, containing confidential information about the patient, was to be kept under seal by the court and was to be accessible only to the parties in the proceedings.
The applicant’s lawyer informed the court, presided over by Madam Justice Miriam Hayman, that she would produce, in evidence, affidavits by Prudente and her partner.
Further evidence was likely to consist of viva voce testimonies by medical professionals, added the lawyer.
The case was deferred to January.
Lawyers Fiorella Fenech Vella and Rachel Aquilina represented the respondents.