'The public deserves clear facts': Pro-choice organisations call for scientific, objective abortion debate

Voice for Choice challenge Doctors for Life's claims that Andrea Prudente's foetus had an 80% chance of survival

The Voice for Choice Coalition called for a scientifically accurate and objective abortion debate. In a statement on Saturday, it referenced reports that it said, suggest that wholly inaccurate statements about the matter were being made.

“A recent statement in court claimed that there is a 79.2% survival rate of the foetus when the woman’s waters rupture before 20 weeks (in cases of PPROM). However, an independent fact-check by the Times of Malta found this claim was mostly false,” the coalition said.

Bill 28 was introduced in parliament by the government in a bid to include two very limited exceptions to Malta’s complete ban on abortion. The changes to the Criminal Code will allow the termination of pregnancy in cases where a woman’s life is in danger or her health is at grave risk.

According to Voice for Choice, only one study suggested a 79.2% survival and this was not applicable to pregnancies of 15 weeks, which is when Andrea Prudente started miscarrying.

Andrea Prudente’s plight made international headlines last June after doctors at Mater Dei Hospital refused to terminate the pregnancy, for legal reasons, because the foetus still had a heartbeat, despite the woman having lost all amniotic fluid and the placenta being detached.

The coalition added that the same study found there were no survivors at 17 to 19 weeks of pregnancy.

Doctors for Life have claimed that studies suggest that in cases like that of Andrea Prudente’s, the foetus had a nearly 80% chance of survival.

“We reiterate that it is crucial that this debate consists of objective, scientifically accurate and fact-checked information. The public deserves clear facts, not misleading information. All sides of the debate have a duty to present clear and unbiased facts, and it is worrying if some feel the need to mislead others.”

The coalition said that Bill 28 is an essential amendment to safeguard women, girls and persons who could get pregnant; even though it only allows abortions in the narrow event when there are pregnancy complications that put the person’s health in “grave jeopardy” and if the foetus is not of a gestational age where it can survive outside the womb.

“We are once again demanding that PM Robert Abela keep the spirit of the amendment alive – protecting women, girls and people in grave danger – without any delays, and to be transparent with the proposed amendments and provide these as soon as possible,” Voice for Choice stated.

The Voice for Choice coalition includes Young Progressive Beings, Women’s Rights Foundation, Moviment Graffitti, Doctors for Choice, Lawyers for Choice, Integra, Aditus, Men Against Violence, Parents for Choice and Malta Humanists Association.