Woman who had miscarriage on trip to Malta can’t get abortion

ROME — A pregnant American woman who suffered an incomplete miscarriage while on vacation in Malta will be flown to a Spanish island on Thursday for a procedure to prevent infection because Maltese law prohibits abortion under any circumstances, the woman’s partner said. .

Jay Weeldreyer told The Associated Press by phone from a hospital in the island nation that his partner, Andrea Prudente, is at risk of a life-threatening infection if the fetal tissue is not removed immediately.

Prudente, 38, experienced heavy bleeding on June 12, followed by a premature rupture of the amniotic sac and separation of the placenta, according to Weeldreyer, 45. While the hospital is carefully monitoring her for any signs of infection, the center is unable to perform surgery to complete the miscarriage, she said.

Malta is the only member nation of the European Union that prohibits abortion for any reason.

Contacted by The AP, Mater Dei Hospital, where Prudente is being treated, said it was not allowed to release patient information due to privacy rules.

“The miscarriage is 80 percent complete,” Weeldreyer said. “Her bag of waters is broken, the placenta has separated, but due to a (fetal) heartbeat,” the fetus cannot be delivered, she said.

In separate comments to other media outlets, the couple described the placenta as having partially detached.

The couple from Issaquah, Washington, a town near Seattle, arrived in Malta on June 5 for a long-awaited vacation. Prudente started bleeding and was hospitalized a week later, her partner said. She stated that she was 16 weeks pregnant when she started bleeding.

As well as worrying about the risk of infection, the two fear that Prudente could bleed again during the medical evacuation flight they have arranged for Thursday night to take them to Mallorca.

Like Malta, Mallorca is an island in the Mediterranean Sea. The couple were originally aiming for a medical evacuation to Britain, but were told flying the longer distance was too risky.

According to his plans, an ambulance will take Prudente to the airport in Malta. After the flight arrives in Mallorca, another ambulance will take her to a hospital that told the couple that she could provide the care she needs.

Under Spanish law, abortion is permitted upon request up to the 14th week of pregnancy and up to the 22nd week when the life or health of the woman is in danger.

Malta’s Mater Dei Hospital “has done a good job within the scope of what they are allowed to do” under Malta law, Weeldreyer said. His partner is receiving antibiotics and is being closely monitored for signs of infection, she said.

The Women’s Rights Foundation in Malta filed a legal protest in court last week demanding the legalization of abortion in the small island nation.

Lawyer Lara Dimitrijevic, an activist with the foundation, said abortion rights advocates in Malta have closely followed the situation in the United States. Some states have enacted laws severely limiting or banning abortion that could be triggered if the US Supreme Court reverses Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that recognized a person’s right to choose abortion.

“We (in Malta) couldn’t be worse, as we have a total ban, but we are starting to see situations like in Poland and now in the United States, where there is a repeal of laws, a dispossession of women’s own bodily autonomy. women. , that’s heartbreaking,” Dimitrijevic said in a phone interview.

Poland, like Malta, a traditionally Catholic country, toughened its abortion law in 2020.

The attorney described the Washington state couple as “very brave to go public with this.” Since his case was published in the Maltese media, “more women are coming forward to talk about their experience or that of their relatives”.

Dimitrijevic added that two or three times a year in Malta, women have found themselves in similar life-threatening situations before a fetus is viable.

On Wednesday, an anti-abortion group in Malta, Doctors for Life, issued a statement about the Prudente case, saying it “strongly believes that the life of the mother must always be protected.”

He said that in similar cases, “careful evaluation is done to assess the severity of the condition” and that if serious bleeding or infection occurs, “then the uterus is always evacuated” after consultation with two experts.

If delivery is deemed necessary, “then this is done, even if the fetus is too young to survive outside the womb,” the organization said, defending Malta’s abortion policy.

Earlier this year, the Council of Europe’s human rights commissioner said Malta’s blanket abortion ban puts women’s rights at “significant risk” and urged the nation’s authorities to repeal provisions criminalizing abortion as a crime.

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Barry Hatton contributed from Lisbon, Portugal.

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