Life Network Foundation Malta has called on the government to “choose top legal advisers to defend life” as a US woman who was denied a request to terminate a non-viable pregnancy in Malta has initiated a constitutional court case.

Andrea Prudente and her partner were on holiday in Malta to celebrate the upcoming birth of their daughter last June, but she suffered symptoms of a miscarriage, including heavy bleeding, and her waters broke prematurely. As Prudente was 16 weeks pregnant, the foetus was unviable.

The couple’s request to terminate the pregnancy due to risks of infection was turned down by doctors at Mater Dei Hospital, who insisted that they could not intervene for as long as a foetal heartbeat was still detected. Prudente was subsequently airlifted to Mallorca as her travel insurance considered her condition life-threatening, and the pregnancy was terminated there.

Through her lawyer Lara Dimitrijevic, Prudente has now filed a case in the First Hall of the Civil Court in its constitutional jurisdiction against the Attorney General, the Minister for Health and the Parliamentary Secretary for Equality, calling for Malta’s ban on abortion – which provides no exemptions – to be declared unconstitutional.

Reacting to the development, Life Network Malta insisted that the government should make use of the best possible legal advice to fight the case. But it also questioned “what happened behind closed doors as no medical bulletin was ever issued.”

In any case, the NGO insisted that Malta did not need abortion “for pregnant women to be safe.”

A similar observation had been made by Archbishop Charles Scicluna last June, in the wake of Prudente’s ordeal, when he said that “we do not have to introduce abortion to save the mother.”

Peppi Azzopardi also weighed in on the matter, insisting that in this case – and in similar ones that may be filed in the future – “there should be a lawyer representing the baby.”

“It is not right for babies to be killed without anyone available to defend them,” he said.

The government had announced a review of Malta’s abortion laws, and these are set to be presented in Parliament shortly, according to Health Minister Chris Fearne. Fearne had insisted, earlier this month, that any planned reviews would not “open door to abortion.”