Gynaecologists have insisted that they have always prioritised the mother’s safety when deciding how to deal with a problematic pregnancy.
In a statement on Thursday evening, the Malta College of obstetricians and gynaecologists weighed in on the issue after a US woman's request to terminate her non-viable pregnancy was rejected by Malta's health authorities.
The group said that its members “have always put mothers at the forefront of our care”.
US national Andrea Prudente's request was turned down by Maltese health authorities despite her fears for her health.
On Thursday Times of Malta reported that she is to be airlifted to Spain where the procedure will be carried out.
Her US health insurance has deemed the situation life-threatening.
The woman, who is 16 weeks pregnant, was hospitalised at Mater Dei a week ago after her waters broke prematurely resulting in no amniotic fluid left inside her womb.
Doctors have told the couple that the baby has no chance of survival but there is still a heartbeat.
Malta is the only EU country that has a total ban on abortion in all circumstances.
The case made international headlines and prompted a demonstration by local women’s rights groups.
Doctors say it is a balancing act
In their statement, the medical group said that “in light of recent issues raised in the press”, it wanted to assure that they “strive to give the best management possible whilst working within the legal framework of our country”.
“In doing so we are proud to have handled challenging situations whilst ensuring patients' health as our utmost priority,” the statement reads.
“Our doctors have always looked after every patient with great care.”
The group said that the management of problems in pregnancy involves monitoring the mother and the baby by a team of experienced doctors.
They look out for any signs of infection or any other problems affecting either mother or child.
“If there is no spontaneous delivery, and there is a risk to the mother, we deliver the baby. Of course, our priority is the mother's safety and health,” the statement reads.
The group said that, even though they are rare, there have been reports of babies surviving when difficult situations arise in the second trimester of pregnancy.
“Each patient is unique, and we try to individualise our treatment protocol,” the statement ends.
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