Doctors have denied an American vacationing in Malta a potentially life-saving abortion, despite saying her baby had ‘no chance’ of survival after being admitted to hospital with severe bleeding during her pregnancy. 16th week of pregnancy.
Despite an ‘extreme risk’ of haemorrhage and infection, doctors at Mater Dei Hospital in Msida told Andrea Prudente they would not terminate the pregnancy due to the total ban on abortion in the country.
Prudente and her husband are seeking a medical transfer from Malta to the UK, which the couple say is their only option due to the risk to his life. They claim medical staff were uncooperative in their attempts to leave and in sharing medical records with the couple’s insurance company.
“I just want to get out of here alive,” Prudente told the Guardian from his hospital room in Valletta, Malta’s capital. “I couldn’t have, in my wildest dreams, imagined a nightmare like this.”
Activists in Malta say the case has alarming echoes of the treatment of Savita Halappanavar, who died of sepsis in an Irish hospital in 2012 after doctors refused a request for termination of pregnancy when she started having a miscarriage at 17 weeks, due to the abortion ban then in place in Ireland.
Malta is the only EU country to ban abortion in all circumstances. The only options for those looking to terminate a pregnancy in the island nation are to buy illegal abortion drugs online or seek pregnancy termination abroad.
Prudente, 38, was vacationing with her partner, Jay Weeldreyer, 45, on the island of Gozo on June 12 when she began bleeding profusely overnight.
Doctors in Gozo prescribed her medicine to protect against miscarriage, but two days later when they were back in Malta, the main island, Prudente’s waters broke and she was admitted to St Thomas’ Hospital. where she was told that her placenta had partially detached.
A follow-up ultrasound 48 hours later revealed that there was no amniotic fluid left in her belly and the couple were told the baby could not survive. They were also told that due to Maltese abortion law there was nothing doctors could do to terminate the pregnancy as long as the fetus had a heartbeat.
Prudente was transferred to Mater Dei Hospital, where she was also diagnosed with a ruptured membrane and an umbilical cord protruding from her cervix, which put her at even higher risk of hemorrhage and death. ‘infection. She also tested positive for Covid-19. She is kept in Covid isolation and given antibiotics to ward off infection.
Weeldreyer said medical staff come to check the fetus’ heart rate every day.
“It’s an inconceivable form of emotional and psychological torture,” he said. “A part of me always celebrates hearing the heartbeat…and at the same time, I don’t want that heartbeat to be there because it just makes the pain of this woman I love worse. .”
Lara Dimitrijevic, founder of the Malta Women’s Rights Foundation and a lawyer representing Prudente, said the hospital only provided the medical records after her surgery, which delayed a transfer to the UK.
“It took Andrea a day to receive her file and we are dealing with an emergency situation,” she said. “Any minute could lend itself to putting Andrea’s life in danger.”
Mater Dei Hospital confirmed that it gave Prudente access to his file, but did not comment further on the matter.
Prudente said the current advice from Maltese medical staff was that she leave hospital and wait at the couple’s hotel until the fetal heartbeat stops or Prudente develops an infection, after which they could intervene.
“I feel like I’m actively traumatized,” she said.
The Women’s Rights Foundation filed a legal protest last week on behalf of 188 women, saying the Maltese government’s blanket ban on abortion violates their rights to health, privacy and equality . The foundation is now preparing to launch a lawsuit challenging the constitutional ban.
Weeldreyer said the couple had no idea Malta had banned abortion when they booked the holiday, intended to be a ‘babymoon’, where they could spend time on a Mediterranean island before the birth of their first child together.
Prudente said she was “desperate” to leave the island and receive proper medical care, but also wanted to raise awareness of the situation in Malta to prevent others from suffering like her.
“I don’t want this to happen to more people,” she said.