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Friday, October 7, 2022

What Happened When a Tourist Got Caught Up in Malta’s Abortion Ban

Andrea Prudente, a 38-year-old photographer who lives close to Seattle, and her partner, Jay Weeldreyer, anticipated that their trip to Malta would be a “babymoon” during which they would be able to connect with each other while basking in the warmth of the Mediterranean sun and taking in the sights of the area.

On the other hand, Ms. Prudente, who was 16 weeks pregnant at the time, started to miscarry a few days after they landed in Malta on June 5. According to Dr. Isabel Stabile, a gynaecologist who has worked with Doctors for Choice, a Maltese advocacy organisation, a few days later the woman’s water broke and her placenta started to separate, making it difficult for the baby to live. Stabile has worked with Doctors for Choice in the past.

Ms. Prudente and Mr. Weeldreyer were distraught. But then they found out that the situation was considerably worse than they had anticipated it to be, and that Ms. Prudente’s own life was under danger as well as the lives of others.

However, she was quickly met with a significant challenge: since the baby’s heart had not yet ceased beating, the treatment would be unlawful in Malta, a country in which abortion is prohibited, because the foetus was still alive.

If she couldn’t find a means to leave the country, her only choice would be to wait for the foetus to pass away, which might take several weeks, and she would have to cross her fingers that the pregnancy wouldn’t take her life in the meanwhile. However, due to the precarious nature of her health, it has been difficult to find a method for her to depart Malta.

When Mr. Weeldreyer and Ms. Prudente arrived at the hospital the previous Sunday, they were completely unaware that abortion was outlawed in the country of Malta. They said that no one there explained the legal constraints to them; rather, they were told merely that their unborn child would not survive and that Ms. Prudente would be taken to the hospital for observation.

The trauma of a young lady named Savita Halappanavar, who lived in Ireland at the time, started in a manner that was extremely similar to that of Ms. Prudente. Even though the amniotic sac of Ms. Halappanavar burst before it was supposed to, the fetus’s heart was still beating normally inside of her. Because abortion was against the law in Ireland at the time, the medical staff declined to remove the foetus. Six days later, Ms. Halappanavar became ill with sepsis, had cardiac arrest, and ultimately passed away. Her story became a rallying cry for abortion rights advocates and contributed to the genesis of a referendum in 2018 that led to the legalisation of abortion in Ireland.

Izabela Sajbor, a young lady from Poland, was taken to the hospital last year when her water broke at 22 weeks’ gestation. In Poland, where a judicial ruling in 2020 erased practically all exceptions to the country’s abortion prohibition, the same dreadful scenario played out. Because they could still hear the baby’s heartbeat, the doctors would not take the foetus from the mother. Ms. Sajbor already had a serious illness by the time they found out about it. She passed away as well.

After realising that her unborn child had major defects, including a defective heart chamber, Ms. Sajbor had mentioned to a friend that she was considering having an abortion in another country before she passed away in Poland. But then her water broke, which was the first step in the series of events that ultimately resulted in her passing away.

This is the harsh reality that some American women may have to confront if the Supreme Court decides to overturn Roe v. Wade and enable individual states to once again outlaw abortion, as is generally anticipated to happen. Even though it is anticipated that abortion would continue to be legal in certain places, it is possible that women who have medical crises may not have the financial means to go across state lines in an ambulance, which can be prohibitively costly.

IMG, her insurance company, had originally planned to evacuate her to London; however, they had to abandon that plan after their medical team determined that the three-hour flight would be too risky for her condition. According to Mr. Weeldreyer, the IMG medical team informed them of this information.

IMG contacted us on Wednesday with an update and a new plan, which was for them to transport Ms. Prudente to a hospital in Mallorca, Spain. Even though it was not as nearby as Italy, they considered it to be the closest place that could give dependable medical treatment.

The hands of the clock are moving rapidly. The powerful antibiotic treatment that Ms. Prudente is receiving began on Thursday of last week. Every hour that she waits increases not just the likelihood that she may get an infection or one of the many other disastrous consequences, but also the mental anguish she will experience as a result of being imprisoned in her sorrow and anxiety.

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