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U.S. woman cleared to leave Malta after being refused abortion

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: People demonstrate against Malta’s total ban on abortion outside Parliament House in Valletta, Malta, June 22, 2022. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi/File Photo

VALLETTA (Reuters) – An American woman who was denied a request for abortion in Malta after suffering the symptoms of a miscarriage, has been allowed to travel to Spain to terminate her pregnancy there, her lawyer said on Thursday.

Andrea Prudente, 38, who is 16 weeks pregnant, was on holiday in Malta with her partner Jay Weeldreyer when she started to miscarry a week ago.

Amid fears for Prudente’s health, the couple requested an abortion when told that the pregnancy was no longer viable. However, the request was refused since Malta does not allow abortion under any circumstances.

Doctors had refused to certify her as fit to travel, but arrangements have since been made through the couple’s travel insurance to enable her to fly to the Spanish island Majorca.

“The insurance company has finalised arrangements for them to be airlifted to Majorca. Andrea is signing herself out since Maltese medical advice is for her to stay under observation,” the couple’s lawyer Lara Dimitrijevic told Reuters.

“Andrea is going through a lot psychologically. But here in Malta, doctors’ hands are tied since according to law they would be committing a crime by terminating the pregnancy,” she said.

The couple are due to leave by air ambulance later on Thursday.

Malta is the only EU country that has a total ban on abortion. The Ministry of Health has not commented on the case.

Sports & General

Biden swipes at China with memorandum to combat illegal fishing

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© Reuters. U.S. President Joe Biden attends a welcoming ceremony on the first day of the G7 summit at Bavaria’s Schloss Elmau castle, near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, June 26, 2022. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/Pool

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. President Joe Biden on Monday signed a national security memorandum to fight illegal fishing, part of pledged efforts to help countries combat alleged violations by fishing fleets, including those of China.

The White House said in a statement that it would also launch an alliance with Canada and the United Kingdom to “take urgent action” to improve monitoring, control, and surveillance in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

U.S. officials have vowed to introduce policies to better battle illegal fishing, particularly in the Indo-Pacific, as part of stepped up engagement with the region to counter China’s growing influence.

Some countries in the region chafe at China’s vast fishing fleet, arguing its vessels often violate their 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zones (EEZ) and cause environmental damage and economic losses.

Senior U.S. administration officials told reporters in a briefing that the memorandum directs agencies to work toward “ending human trafficking, including forced labor … while promoting safe, sustainable use of the ocean.”

The Department of Labor, the Department of Defense, the U.S. Coast Guard, and other enforcement agencies would engage with private and foreign partners to “investigate fishing vessels and operators expected to be harvesting seafood with forced labor,” the official said.

The effort was not targeted at any specific country, but the official said China was one of the largest violators.

“The PRC (People’s Republic of China) is a leading contributor to IUU fishing worldwide, and has impeded progress on the development of measures to combat IUU fishing and overfishing in international organizations,” the official said.

“The PRC has a responsibility to uphold these commitments as a flag state and actively monitor and correct … fishing fleet activities in other countries’ waters,” she said.

China’s embassy in Washington did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

China says it is a responsible fishing country that has been cooperating internationally to clamp down on illegal fishing, and that it fishes in relevant EEZs according to bilateral agreements.

Earlier in June, the Philippines accused China of illegal fishing in its EEZ, a complaint backed by the U.S. State Department.

The U.S. Coast Guard has said illegal fishing has outpaced piracy as the top global maritime security threat, and risks heightening tensions among countries vying for overexploited fishing stocks.

U.S. Indo-Pacific policy coordinator Kurt Campbell said in May that countries in the region were cooperating to step up patrolling and training efforts, as well as sharing technologies to track vessels engaged in illegal fishing that turn off electronic transponders.

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Amtrak train derails in Missouri after hitting truck, injuries reported

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(Reuters) -Several cars on an Amtrak train derailed in Mendon, Missouri, on Monday after hitting a dump truck at a crossing and there are early reports of injuries among the approximately 243 passengers on board, Amtrak said in a statement.

The train hit the vehicle at a public crossing at 1:42 p.m. as it was traveling from Los Angeles to Chicago, Amtrak said.

“Local authorities are currently assisting customers and we have deployed Amtrak resources to assist. Additional details will be provided as available,” it said.

The derailment comes after an Amtrak passenger train in September derailed in north central Montana, killing three people.

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Biden administration signals fight over medication abortion

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Abortion rights protesters demonstrate after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the Dobbs v Women’s Health Organization abortion case, overturning the landmark Roe v Wade abortion decision in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., June 24, 2022. REUTERS/

2/2

By Lawrence Hurley

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Joe Biden’s administration indicated it will seek to prevent states from banning a pill used for medication abortion in light of the Supreme Court ruling overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling, signaling a major new legal fight.

The administration could argue in court that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of mifepristone, one of the pills used for medication abortions, pre-empts state restrictions, meaning federal authority outweighs any state action.

That same argument has already been raised by Las Vegas-based GenBioPro Inc, which sells a generic version of the pill, in a lawsuit challenging Mississippi’s restrictions on medication abortion.

More than a dozen states plan to almost totally ban abortion with the Roe v. Wade precedent upended. In a stunning ruling, the conservative majority Supreme Court overturned Roe on a 5-4 vote on Friday, saying there is no right to abortion in the U.S. Constitution.

States will likely face other difficulties enforcing restrictions on medication abortion because women are still likely to be able to obtain the pills online or in other states.

Biden said in remarks after the Supreme Court ruling that the government would seek to protect access to medication abortion, saying efforts to restrict it would be “wrong and extreme and out of touch with the majority of Americans.”

Attorney General Merrick Garland was more explicit about what Justice Department is eyeing, saying in a statement: “States may not ban mifepristone based on disagreement with the FDA’s expert judgment about its safety and efficacy.”

Mifepristone was approved for use in abortions by the FDA in 2000, long after Roe was decided in 1973. The pill, also known as RU 486, blocks the pregnancy-sustaining hormone progesterone while the other drug used, misoprostol, induces uterine contractions.

Greer Donley, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law who is an expert on reproductive rights, said the administration’s stance “shows that they understand the stakes and are willing to pursue novel ideas.”  

Even before Roe was overturned, states imposed restrictions on access to the pill. There are 19 states that require women to make an in-person visit to obtain the drug, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports the right to an abortion.

The FDA does not require an in-person meeting.

Legal experts say the law on preemption is murky because Congress has never said explicitly that FDA approval trumps state law as it has done in the context of medical devices. Therefore it would be left to courts to decide the question under a theory known as “implied preemption.”

Wide availability of medication abortion in states that want to restrict or ban the procedure would be a major setback to anti-abortion campaigners who have long sought to ban abortion outright.

Attempts to challenge state restrictions could run aground at the Supreme Court, not only because the 6-3 conservative majority has shown its opposition to abortion rights but also because the justices are often skeptical about federal preemption claims.

With Roe overturned, states would also have more leeway to argue they have a separate interest in preventing abortions based on moral objections to abortion.

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