An American woman on holiday in Malta who was refused an abortion due to a blanket ban, despite being in the middle of a miscarriage with her life in danger, is finally to 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 suffering a miscarriage over the weekend. Doctors told her that her 16-week-old fetus had zero chance of survival but said they could not carry out an abortion as it 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 was to be forced to carry the dying foetus until it is naturally expelled. The news she is to be airlifted came days after emotional pleas with doctors to terminate the pregnancy due to fears for her health.
Despite being at risk of sepsis, haemorrhage, severe mental distress, and other complications, Maltese doctors initially refused to sign documents for a medevac or hand her files over to her US insurance company.
Paperwork was only released after a local lawyer, Lara Dimitrijevic intervened.
“The insurance company has finalised arrangements for them to be airlifted to Mallorca. Andrea is signing herself out since Maltese medical advice is for her to stay under observation,” Dimitrijevic said.
“Imagine the pain and heartbreak she is feeling,” said Emily Galea, a prominent local pro-choice activist, adding, “Yes, the foetus has a heartbeat. But so does Andrea Prudente. So do all women in 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 refused an abortion when she began to miscarry at 17 weeks due to the blanket ban in place at the time.
Activists in Malta have long been campaigning for legal abortion but both political parties remain against it due predominantly to the strong influence of the Catholic church. Those campaigning for change regularly face doxxing, hate speech, and death threats on social media and in public.