Woman who had miscarriage on Malta trip can’t get abortion

ROME (AP) — A pregnant American woman who suffered an incomplete miscarriage while vacationing in Malta will be airlifted to a Spanish island on Thursday for a procedure to prevent infection because Maltese law prohibits abortion under any circumstances, the woman’s partner said.

Jay Weeldreyer told The Associated Press by phone from a hospital in the island nation that his partner, Andrea Prudente, is at risk of a life-threatening infection if the fetal tissue isn’t promptly removed.

Prudente, 38, experienced heavy bleeding on June 12, followed by a premature rupture of the amniotic sac and the separation of the placenta, according to Weeldreyer, 45. While the hospital is carefully monitoring her for any sign of infection, the facility cannot perform the surgery to complete the miscarriage, he said.

Malta is the only European Union member nation that outlaws abortions for any reason.

Contacted by The AP, Mater Dei Hospital, where Prudente is being treated, said it wasn’t allowed to give out patient information due to privacy regulations.

“The miscarriage is 80 percent complete,″ Weeldreyer said. ”Her waters are broken, the placenta has separated, but because of a (fetal) heartbeat,” the foetus cannot be removed, he said.

The couple from Issaquah, Washington, a town near Seattle, arrived in Malta on June 5 for a long-awaited vacation. Prudente started bleeding and was hospitalized a week later, her partner said. He indicated she was 16 weeks pregnant when the bleeding began.

Along with worrying about the infection risk, the two fear Prudente might resume hemorrhaging during the medical evacuation flight they have arranged for Thursday evening to take them to the Mallorca.

Like Malta, Mallorca is an island in the Mediterranean Sea. Originally, the couple aimed for a medical evacuation to Britain, but were told flying the longer distance was too risky,

According to their plans, an ambulance will take Prudente to Malta’s airport. After the flight arrives in Mallorca, another ambulance will whisk her to a hospital that told the couple it could provide the care she needs.

Under Spanish law, abortion is permitted upon request through the 14th week of pregnancy and up to the 22nd week when a woman’s life or health is in danger.

Malta’s Mater Dei Hospital “has done a good job within the realm of what they are allowed to do” under that country’s law, Weeldreyer said. His partner is receiving antibiotics and being closely monitored for signs of infection, he said.

The Women’s Rights Foundation in Malta filed a legal protest in court last week that demanded the legalisation of abortion in the tiny island nation.

Lawyer Lara Dimitrijevic, an activist with the foundation, said abortion rights supporters in Malta have closely monitored the situation in the United States. Some states have enacted laws severely limiting or outlawing abortion that could be triggered if the US Supreme Court reverses Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that recognised an individual’s right to choose abortion.

Earlier this year, the Council of Europe’s human rights commissioner said Malta’s blanket ban on abortion puts women’s rights at “significant risk” and urged the nation’s authorities to repeal provisions that make abortion a crime.

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