- A Seattle couple was on their “babymoon” in Malta when the woman miscarried.
- The fetus has a “zero percent” chance of survival, but doctors will not terminate the pregnancy due to the country’s strict abortion ban.
- The woman faces life-threatening complications as she awaits her transfer to the UK.
Seattle couple Andrea Prudente and Jay Weeldreyer were celebrating the impending birth of their first child in the Mediterranean when Prudente started bleeding profusely. She was 16 weeks pregnant.
Doctors on the island of Gozo, near Malta, gave her medicines to prevent a miscarriage. But on June 12, a few days later in Malta, the couple’s main destination, Prudente’s water broke. At the hospital, she learned that her placenta had partially detached and two days later that she had lost all amniotic fluid, the Guardian reported.
Doctors told her the pregnancy had “zero chance” of survival – but they couldn’t remove it because of Malta’s strict abortion ban.
Meanwhile, Prudente was diagnosed with a ruptured membrane and a protruding umbilical cord, greatly increasing her risk of serious bleeding and infection. She also tested positive for COVID-19.
She and Weeldreyer are trying to get an immediate medical evacuation to the UK, where a termination could save her life. But according to VICE World News, they’ve been waiting for the right paperwork from their insurance company for nearly a week.
Otherwise, Prudente must continue to wait for the fetus’s heart to stop beating or develop an infection so severe that her life is in immediate danger. Only then will Maltese clinicians step in, reports, including from the BBC, say.
“I just want to get out of here alive,” Prudente told The Guardian. “I could not have imagined such a nightmare in my wildest dreams.”
“It’s an unimaginable form of emotional and psychological torture,” Weeldreyer added. “Part of me still celebrates hearing the heartbeat… and at the same time, I don’t want that heartbeat there, because it just leads to more suffering for this woman I love.”
The situation shows how abortion bans will increase maternal mortality
Malta, a chain of islands in the Mediterranean Sea, is the only country in the EU with a total ban on abortion. Hundreds of women abroad get one every year, and more and more others are illegally taking the abortion pill, the BBC reports.
Doctors for Choice Malta has published Prudente’s story, at her request, “in the hope of avoiding a tragedy” like Savita Halappanavar. The former dentist living in Ireland was 17 weeks pregnant when she miscarried in 2012. After she was refused an abortion due to the country’s then abortion ban, she died of sepsis.
“We hope common sense prevails and this woman gets fired before it’s too late,” Doctors for Choice wrote on social media, referring to Prudente. “We have also heard of Maltese women who have been in similar situations but were afraid to speak out. This is not right. Women have beating hearts too!
US OB-GYNs have speculated about similar situations in the US if Roe v Wade is destroyed. Making abortion legal only when the mother’s life is at risk puts doctors in an “unsustainable position,” Shaina Goodman, director of reproductive health and rights at the National Partnership for Women and Families, told Stateline. “At what point is the mother’s life at stake when she’s coding on the table?”