After a lawsuit from a US tourist: Draft law presented: Government in Malta wants to relax strict abortion laws

The government of Malta on Monday tabled a bill to amend strict abortion laws.

After a lawsuit from a US tourist: Draft law presented: Government in Malta wants to relax strict abortion laws

The government of Malta on Monday tabled a bill to amend strict abortion laws. In cases where the health or life of the pregnant woman is in danger, according to the draft, abortions should be possible in the future.

In June, the case of an American pregnant tourist caused a stir, the star reported. 28-year-old Andrea Prudente suddenly suffered from serious complications while on vacation in Malta - the baby had no chance of surviving, she was told at the hospital. According to the legal situation, the doctors were not allowed to end the pregnancy because the baby's heartbeat was still detectable.

According to current law, violations of the abortion laws can result in up to three years in prison, doctors who perform abortions even up to four years. When the situation became too dangerous for her, Prudente could be flown to Mallorca via her insurance company to have the procedure carried out there. She then sued the Maltese government for violating her human rights. According to Prudente's attorney, the hearing of evidence is still ongoing.

The case made international headlines and protests in Malta. The Maltese government then announced that it wanted to review the current laws - the strictest abortion laws in the EU - again. The draft law contains an additional text according to which an abortion should not be considered a criminal offense in the event of a serious health risk for the pregnant woman. Malta's ruling Health Minister, from the Social Democrat party, told the Associated Press after the proposal was tabled in Parliament that no part of the abortion law should prevent doctors from saving lives.

While activists welcome the planned change, many emphasize that the legal regulations are still very strict and the change is only a small step forward. Because in all other cases, including pregnancies resulting from rape or incest, abortions should continue to be prohibited. Thus, pregnant women would still not be able to freely choose an abortion and would still be fundamentally criminalized, criticized activists from "Doctors for Choice".

According to estimates by the organization, despite the strict legal situation, around 300 women terminate their pregnancy in Malta every year - with medication or by traveling abroad.

Sources: The Guardian, ABC News

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