Pro-choice doctors hit back at accusations of interference in Prudente case

Prof. Isabel Stabile contacted the caring consultant during Andrea Prudente’s admission after her partner sought help from Doctors for Choice directly

Prof. Isabel Stabile
Prof. Isabel Stabile

Pro-choice doctors Doctors for Choice have accused anti-choice lobby Doctors for Life of targeting obstetrician Prof. Isabel Stabile with unverified accusations, saying the group was attacking patients’ rights on seeking a second opinion and alternative care.

Stabile’s name cropped up in the court proceedings in the case of American hospital patient Andrea Prudente, who is suing the Maltese State for having denied her a therapeutic medical abortion when her foetus became unviable. Stabile was said to have consulted doctors caring for Prudente at the patient’s behest.

“While we acknowledge that we did contact the caring consultant during Ms Prudente’s admission after Ms Prudente’s partner sought help from us directly, at no point did we dictate what her medical management should be,” Dr Chris Barbara, of Doctors for Choice, said.

“Neither did we threaten or intimidate any of her caring doctors in any way. It is important to note that the mention of one of our members in court did not come from the caring consultant, but from a third party who elected to make assumptions about the contents and context of a call which he was not a part of.”

The court case has so far heard doctors who cared for Prudente at Mater Dei, who laboured the point that her foetus, which still had a heartbeat despite a rupture in the amniotic sac that led to an emyptying of the necessary fluid, had a small chance of survival.

But Doctors for Choice insist it is inappropriate to rely on the quoted-in-court Israeli study by Herzlich, et al (2022), that claims a survival rate of 79.2% from previable rupture of membranes.

“Ms Prudente ruptured her membranes at 15 weeks of pregnancy and left Malta at 16 weeks and a few days. The quoted study includes only 24 cases of ruptured membranes between 17 and 23 weeks, which is later than Ms Prudente’s case, and none of the women in that study who suffered ruptured members prior to the 19th week had a baby that survived to discharge,” Barbara said.

“We request that a discussion on the need for abortion healthcare in Malta be respectful and fair, and we believe it is unbecoming for anyone in the medical profession to make unfounded and incorrect statements against colleagues, or to quote research incorrectly.”