Med students say Prudente suffered unnecessary risk due to Maltese abortion law

Malta Medical Students' Association said it was neutral on abortion but will always stand against any disregard for the patient’s safety

MMSA said that in medical training, the patient’s is prioritised and unnecessary suffering is avoided
MMSA said that in medical training, the patient’s is prioritised and unnecessary suffering is avoided

The Maltese medical students association has expressed concern on the way American national Andrea Prudente's case was handled, saying she was put in an unnecessary risk due to law constraints.

Prudente, who was 16 weeks pregnant whilst on holiday in Malta, was refused an abortion even though she was having a miscarriage, risking a serious infection. She was ultimately flown to Spain, where her pregnancy was medically terminated.

In a statement, the association said that there could have been serious repercussions of Prudente’s health, putting her at a risk of an intrauterine infection or generalised sepsis.

“We are saddened by this news, and we would like to extend our sympathies to Ms Prudente, for not only having to deal with the terrible potential loss of a pregnancy, which is a traumatic experience on its own, but for also having to deal with the distress and trauma caused by being denied optimal medical care [...] having to risk her life unnecessarily in order to receive proper health care,” MMSA said.

They said that throughout their medical training, the patient’s is prioritised and that the avoidance of unnecessary suffering is lauded as a constant pillar in their practice.

“So we ask the question: How is the care that she was receiving locally ensuring her survival, dignity, and quality of life?”

They said that Prudente was put at an unnecessary risk, with her personal safety disregarded, not due to carelessness by the medical team, but because of the constraints imposed upon them by law in this situation.

“As future professionals we are taught to understand the sacred value of human life, but we are also explicitly made to understand that prolonging life is not the only aim of healthcare, as it is also to preserve the quality of life as best as we can,” the students said.

“Current local practices still put patients in a similar situation in danger. We should not need to go through the same regrettable loss locally in order to learn those same lessons, and we should not have to send patients abroad to receive care that could easily be provided locally.”

It said that it always has and will always remain neutral on abortion, but it said it stands against any disregard for the patient’s safety.

“We ask that local directives about the matter be revised to fully allow medical professionals to provide optimal care for their patients, and not prolong patients’ suffering,” MMSA concluded.