Bravo, Mater Dei

A woman shows up at Mater Dei hospital in a state of visible mental agitation and pain. By her own account, she has taken a number of pills in order to induce a miscarriage. What do our noble hospital administrators do?

Option 1. Treat her body and her mind, recognising the fact that the woman is in dire need of mental support and referring her to counseling. If need be, discreet medical proceedings are initiated to discover exactly what happened and whether any further action is required from their end.

2. Call the police department post-haste crying “abortion”, without bothering to carry out a full medical investigation and thus causing more untold damage to the woman who had sought their assistance, exactly as happened here:

Congratulations to all those who chose the second option. It shows an enviably strong grasp of the Maltese holier-than-thou disposition, of that charitable strain in our character that makes us proud to call ourselves ‘Catholics’ and of our tendency to not leave a stone unturned when it comes to doing a job well.

Oh wait. This last bit only happens in my imagination. What actually happens in real life is that as soon as someone – in this case, someone with medical responsibility and who should really know better – smells a whiff of a potential ‘situation’, they can’t pass the buck elsewhere soon enough. Make it someone else’s problem, before it becomes yours.

Because it is worryingly easy to figure out the chain of events that led to this faster-than-lightning (two weeks to wrap up a suspected abortion, when we have murder cases that don’t get a first hearing for years) prosecution: a medical report citing the A-word landed on some pen-pusher’s desk. Said pen-pusher panicked, recognized the potential of the case becoming a political hot potato and did the obvious thing. He – and I am very willing to bet that it was a ‘he’ – threw the potato on someone else’s desk.

Only thing is, pulling a Pontius Pilate rarely works. Let us, for a moment, leave aside the moral implications and focus purely on the medical aspect.
What we learnt from this story is that, in a given situation, Mater Dei admin will take the fastest way out and act on the word of a patient without first ascertaining the medical facts.

Patient said she there was a baby, ergo there must have been one. Q.E.D. Why bother with a thorough medical investigation when we have a patient who clearly knows more than we do?

What does this mean exactly? If I show up claiming to be suffering from the plague and two symptoms out of four match, will Mater Dei admin take it upon themselves to call a national emergency? I like to think not, which begs the obvious question: why was this deemed to be an acceptable solution in the case of a suspected abortion? What made our medical administration think it was okay to shirk on the hospital’s responsibility and to do a half-baked job before setting the police on their patient?

Was it because she was a foreigner? Was it because someone didn’t feel like dealing with the extra paperwork that a thorough investigation would have necessitated? Was it because moral fastidiousness (as opposed to real morality, which presupposes kindness and responsibility) was given priority over the Hippocratic oath?

These are all questions that require an answer. And don’t you dare tell us that it was the responsibility of the police to investigate the existence of a medical condition.

Our faith has already been tested enough as it is.