An American woman who was denied a request to terminate a non-viable pregnancy was never at any risk of dying, Malta is arguing before its highest court. 

Andrea Prudente is calling on the Constitutional Court to declare that her human rights were breached when doctors refused to terminate the pregnancy when her waters broke at 16 weeks.

The incident happened in June when she began bleeding profusely while on holiday in Gozo and was told by doctors that the pregnancy was no longer viable. 

Prudente’s case made global headlines when she had to be airlifted to a Spanish hospital for a termination denied to her by Maltese doctors.

She is arguing that the Maltese government failed in its duty to provide safety and dignity by allowing a law that places a blanket ban on abortion. This put her life at risk and subjected her to inhuman and degrading treatment, she argues through her lawyer, women’s rights activist Lara Dimitrijevic.

The lawyer filed a case for Prudente in the First Hall of the Civil Court, in its constitutional jurisdiction, against the attorney general, the health minister and the parliamen­tary secretary for reforms and equality.

Malta has now replied to the case, with State Advocate Chris Soler writing on behalf of the state. 

The state advocate says that at no point was Prudente at risk of dying while she was being treated at Mater Dei Hospital and at no point was she subjected to inhumane or degrading treatment.

On the contrary, she was given all the necessary care while in hospital, he argued.

Malta is also arguing that the European Convention for Human Rights was never violated because the state had not interfered in her family or private life as was being alleged.

Prudente’s requested treatment would have, at the time, gone against the law of the land, Soler writes.

Abortion is a crime in Malta and the applicant should have known this. Therefore, the blame, if any, should lie with her, Malta is arguing. 

Malta is the only EU country that has a total ban on abortion in all circumstances.

In Malta, the termination of non-viable pregnancies, where a heartbeat is still detected, has until recently been delayed until the woman’s life is deemed to be at risk because abortion is illegal under all circumstances.

Earlier this month, the government announced legislative amendments that would allow doctors to terminate a pregnancy when a woman’s life or health is at serious risk.

The Nationalist Party has said that it considers the proposed reform as the introduction of abortion and would not support it in the House.

Meanwhile, Malta is also putting forward several technical arguments in response to Prudente’s case, including that the complaint she is making had not gone through the proper channels. 

While the US citizen is claiming that her fundamental rights were breached, Malta says that this complaint is null and void because the paperwork was not presented to the court correctly.  

Furthermore, Malta claims that the health minister and reforms parliamentary secretary should not be subjects of legal action.  These have been summoned when, in fact, it ought to have been the permanent secretary who should appear before the court. The allegations of rights violations, the state advocate argues, are also “entirely without merit and unfounded”.

The document says that none of the respondents ever sought to put Prudente’s life in harm. 

Last week, Prudente’s partner, Jay Weeldreyer, said they would be forging ahead with their case despite the recently announced legal reform. 

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