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MALTATODAY 11 December 2022

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4 maltatoday | SUNDAY • 4 DECEMBER 2022 NEWS Up to three doctors could be involved in foetal termination decision CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 The proposal could go a long way in assuaging concerns from supporters of Malta's categor- ical ban on abortion, which have mounted massive opposi- tion against the life-saving legal amendment. Under the proposed amend- ment, doctors will be able to ter- minate a pregnancy to safeguard the woman's health and life. Un- der current circumstances doc- tors and the woman risk going to jail in such a circumstance. Med- ical professionals also risk losing their warrant. Abortion remains illegal but the proposed changes introduce an exception where termination of pregnancy is the result of a med- ical intervention that is needed when the woman's health or life are at risk. The threat of jail will be removed for both the doctors and the woman in these circum- stances. The government says these changes will enable a pregnan- cy to be terminated with legal peace of mind in cases of ectopic pregnancies, situations where the woman develops a cancer and requires urgent treatment and premature rupture of a woman's waters, among other "serious" conditions. Malta is the only European state, apart from the Vatican, where abortion is illegal in all cir- cumstances. But opponents to the Bill, which include the Nationalist Party, the Medical Association of Malta, as well as anti-choice academics who penned an analysis of the law, believe the amendment gives prospective mothers and doctors too wide a berth in carrying out such terminations. Health Minister Chris Fearne has however dismissed calls for an amendment that would limit the coverage of the bill to wom- en suffering serious 'physical' but not mental health complications. Critics, mainly academics from Malta's faculties of law and the- ology, believe the Bill should be restricted to mothers having medical 'physical' complications, excluding mental conditions. Fearne has previously suggested that operating procedures in such life-saving terminations could be examined by parliament's health committee because they defined concepts such as what constitut- ed a grave danger to the mother's life. Malta could be heading for a historic amendment to its Crimi- nal Code, after the case of Amer- ican tourist Andrea Prudent, visiting Malta on a 'babymoon', exposed the weakness of the law. Andrea Prudente started mis- carrying while on holiday in Malta with her partner. Despite doctors telling her the pregnancy was not viable, she was denied an abortion because the foetus still had a heartbeat, putting her at risk of contracting sepsis, a seri- ous blood infection. She was eventually flown out to Spain where her pregnancy was terminated. Prudente's case cast Malta in- to the international spotlight for putting the woman's health and possibly her life on the line be- cause of the country's draconian laws. Prudente has filed a consti- tutional case against the state, claiming her human rights were breached. Prudente has also filed two def- amation lawsuits against former Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi and the right-wing academic Si- mon Mercieca. Both claimed that Andrea Prudente and husband Jay Weeldreyer contrived their holiday in Malta as a stunt so that her failed pregnancy would cre- ate a scandal over Malta's abor- tion ban. The lawsuit was filed by Women's Rights Foundation activist and lawyer Dr Lara Dim- itrijevic. Opposition leader Bernard Grech has also faced flak for his disparaging tone in the House of Representatives, where he did not once mention the name of Andrea Prudente while belittling the case. "This pregnant American wom- an travelled more than 20 hours to celebrate her 'baby moon' in Malta. I never heard of this ba- by moon but she called it a baby as well. She wanted an abortion, despite our doctors treating her well and in a prudent way. Her babymoon ended when she went to Spain by air ambulance and then she sued the Maltese state." Grech played on her surname to insist it was Maltese doctors who were prudent, adding Pru- dente was never in danger of dy- ing. "This was confirmed by the State Advocate in his reply to the constitutional case filed by the woman." "It is a lie to say she was in dan- ger of dying. She was not remov- ing the very premise on which government's amendment was built," he said. Andrea Prudente started miscarrying while on holiday in Malta with her partner. Despite doctors telling her the pregnancy was not viable, she was denied an abortion because the foetus still had a heartbeat, putting her at risk of contracting sepsis, a serious blood infection. DR. DANIEL MICALLEF On December 9th, Dr. Daniel Micallef passed away peacefully at his residence in Rabat at the age of 94, comforted by the rites of Holy Church. He leaves to mourn his loss his wife Pauline, his children Marika, Denise, Isabelle, Bernardette, Mark, Paul and Daniel, their respective spouses and partners; his grand-children, their partners and great-grandchildren, his siblings and their partners, his wife's siblings and their partners, nephews, nieces, other relatives and friends. Mass praesente cadavere will be said on Sunday, December 11, at 1430hrs at St. Dominic's Church, Rabat, followed by a private burial ceremony at St. Margherita's Cemetry in Rabat.

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