Malta: American tourist's life at risk due to abortion ban

Miscarriage in 2nd trimester but fetus's heartbeat still present

23 June, 16:52

    Protest against abortion ban in Valletta, Malta Protest against abortion ban in Valletta, Malta

    VALLETTA - An American tourist who arrived in Malta when she was in her 16th week of pregnancy is risking her life due to a miscarriage, because doctors at the polyclinic Mater Dei where she was hospitalized can't intervene because the fetus's heartbeat is still present. The woman, Andrea Prudente, risks dying of septicemia but in the very Catholic Malta, the only country in the European Union in which abortion is not allowed in any case, doctors risk up to four months in jail if they stop a fetus's life, even though the woman's waters broke yesterday and the fetus has "no chance of survival", doctors said Wednesday.

    The woman's partner, Jay Weeldreyer, 45, said the woman is being "held hostage" and has launched a public appeal, speaking to the media, so his partner can be saved, denouncing that he has not been permitted to transfer her to a country where the fetus can be surgically removed. The couple's insurance company has tried to organize the trip, but it wasn't possible because no company was willing to face the legal consequences connected to the case. "We came to Malta for a 'babymoon", said Weeldreyer. "We certainly didn't come to have an abortion, but here we are talking about saving a woman's life. We are playing with her life", he said.

    A few days after the couple's arrival in Malta, the woman started losing blood. After a checkup at the hospital, they were reassured that the baby was doing fine. But two days later, her waters broke and a sonogram showed that the placenta had partially detached from the uterus. However, the fetus's heart was still beating. They were sent back home. Eight hours later, a new sonogram revealed that there was no amniotic liquid left but the heartbeat was still present so doctors couldn't intervene, in spite of a risk of septicemia.

    The case was reported by the NGO 'Doctors for Choice' which fears a similar tragedy to the case of Savita Halappanavar, who died in 2012 at 31 in Ireland because she was denied a medical abortion after the beginning of a miscarriage.

    "I hope we will succeed in receiving some form of exemption from Malta and that we will be allowed to leave, which would be the best thing. Even presuming she won't make it, we would prefer to hope that Andrea could survive the flight", concluded Weeldreyer.

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