U.S. woman denied abortion in Malta to be airlifted out amid fears for her life

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At 16 weeks pregnant, Andrea Prudente traveled with her partner to the European island nation of Malta for a babymoon vacation. However, instead of enjoying a relaxing trip to celebrate her pregnancy, the American started bleeding profusely and was admitted to hospital, trapped in what she called “a nightmare” after doctors told her said the fetus would not survive.

Hospital authorities in Malta, the only country in the European Union that bans abortion in all circumstances, would not allow them to terminate the pregnancy. Rights campaigners in Malta say the legislation threatens reproductive health and have sought to challenge it in court.

The couple from Washington State, near Seattle, said Prudente’s water had ruptured and there was no more amniotic fluid, increasing the risk of infection and possible threat to her life. They feared they would be ‘stranded’ as they sought medical transfer to another country to terminate the pregnancy, but initially struggled to be certified fit to travel by doctors.

After days of panic and cries for help, Prudente was granted an emergency airlift through her travel insurance on Thursday to undergo the procedure in Mallorca, Spain, according to Maltese media.

“We certainly didn’t come for an abortion, but here we are talking about saving a woman’s life,” her partner Jay Weeldreyer told The Times of Malta earlier.

Doctors for Choice, which advocates for reproductive rights in Malta and services including abortion, said that despite the woman’s membranes rupturing and the placenta detaching, an abortion was refused because “there is always a fetal heartbeat”.

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Doctors had told Prudente they “can only intervene if she is close to death,” the group said this week, even though she faced the strain of carrying a fetus that would not survive and the risk infection, such as sepsis or hemorrhage. He said obstetrical guidelines generally recommend offering pregnancy termination to avoid infection or death “in critical cases where the fetus is not yet viable, before 24 weeks.”

While the American couple may have been granted an evacuation thanks to their travel insurance, the nonprofit said it had heard of Maltese women in similar situations who were “afraid to speak out” and had few options.

The country’s laws mean that women who have abortions and the doctors who help them can face jail time, although prosecution or jail time has not been enforced for several years, he said. declared.

There was no immediate comment from authorities in Malta, where activists protested the outright ban outside parliament on Wednesday.

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Women’s groups said Prudente’s case brought to mind the story of dentist Savita Halappanavar, who died in an Irish hospital in 2012 after authorities refused to terminate her pregnancy despite a miscarriage, due to ban on abortion in the country at the time.

Ireland has since lifted the ban in an overwhelming vote as some other countries have eased the legal process in recent years, including Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, New Zealand and Thailand.

The American couple’s call comes as the debate over abortion, one of the most polarizing issues in American politics, heats up. Lawmakers in some states have made access more difficult, and a leaked draft opinion suggesting the U.S. Supreme Court could strike down abortion rights established in Roe vs. Wade sent shockwaves across the country last month.

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