An American vacationing in Malta who was denied an abortion due to a blanket ban, despite being in the midst of a life-threatening miscarriage, must ultimately be medically evacuated to Spain, where the procedure will take place.
Andrea Prudente was visiting Malta with her partner to celebrate her pregnancy, but started miscarrying over the weekend. Doctors told her her 16-week-old fetus had no chance of surviving, but they couldn’t abort because he still had a heartbeat.
Malta is the only country in the EU and one of the few in the world where any form of abortion is illegal.
The woman had to be forced to carry the dying fetus until it was naturally expelled. The news that she is to be airlifted came days after emotional pleas for doctors to terminate the pregnancy due to health fears.
Despite the risk of sepsis, haemorrhage, severe mental distress and other complications, Maltese doctors initially refused to sign paperwork for medical evacuation or turn over his records to his US insurance company.
The paperwork was only made public after the intervention of a local lawyer, Lara Dimitrijevic.
“The insurance company have finalized arrangements for them to be flown to Mallorca. Andrea is disconnecting as Maltese medical advice is that she remains under observation,” Dimitrijevic said.
“Imagine the pain and grief she feels,” said Emily Galea, a prominent local pro-choice activist, adding, “Yes, the fetus has a heartbeat. But so does Andrea Prudente. all the women of Malta. We will not wait until there is blood on our hands for change to happen.
Maltese activists say the case echoes the treatment of Savita Halappanavar, who died of sepsis in an Irish hospital in 2012. She was denied an abortion when she began miscarrying at 17 weeks due to the general ban in place at the time.
Activists in Malta have long campaigned for legal abortion, but both political parties remain against it mainly due to the strong influence of the Catholic Church. Those advocating for change routinely face doxxing, hate speech and death threats on social media and in public.