American woman to be airlifted to Mallorca after Malta denies termination of unviable pregnancy

·4-min read
American woman to be airlifted to Mallorca after Malta denies termination of unviable pregnancy

An American woman and her partner will be airlifted to Mallorca, Spain to end her unviable pregnancy after her request to do so was denied by health authorities in Malta.

Andrea Prudente, 38, and her partner Jay Weeldreyer, 45, will travel to the Spanish island via air ambulance.

According to the Times of Malta, lawyer Lara Dimitrijevic, the head of Women for Choice, confirmed that the couple’s travel insurance has accepted to proceed with the measure as the condition of Ms Prudente is considered “life-threatening”.

They’re expected to leave Malta as soon as Thursday.

Ahead of the airlift, Ms Prudente was in stable condition at Mater Dei hospital as Mr Weeldreyer told the outlet that they are “very relieved” that the episode will soon be over.

But Mr Weeldreyer said that “insurance will cover the portion that our benefits allow, and then we pay for the remaining balance”.

Ms Prudente is 16 weeks pregnant and was hospitalised a week ago after her water broke ahead of time, meaning that there’s no amniotic fluid remaining in the womb.

American woman Andrea Prudente is to be airlifted to Mallorca after Malta denied the termination of her unviable pregnancy (Jay Weeldreyer)
American woman Andrea Prudente is to be airlifted to Mallorca after Malta denied the termination of her unviable pregnancy (Jay Weeldreyer)

While doctors have said that there’s still a heartbeat, they’ve also told the couple there’s no chance of survival for the baby. The couple asked that the pregnancy be terminated for fear of the safety of Ms Prudente.

Doctors in Malta have also told the couple that they can’t take any measures unless Ms Prudente’s life is in imminent danger, forcing the couple to wait for the foetus to die and possibly putting Ms Prudente at risk of a dangerous infection.

Malta is the sole country in the European Union with a complete ban on abortions regardless of the situation, leaving the couple with the only option of leaving the Mediterranean island nation of around 525,000 people.

“Let’s not forget that here we are talking about a wanted pregnancy,” Dimitrijevic told the Times of Malta. “Andrea is going through a lot psychologically. But here in Malta, doctors’ hands are tied since according to law they would be committing a crime by terminating the pregnancy. This case highlights the need to decriminalise abortion.”

The lawyer earlier told Euronews: “I think this is barbaric. This falls way below the standards of a European Union country. We can do far far better than this.”

“We had hope that a sense of humanity would reign,” she added, noting that she hoped that there would be “compassion and understanding because the trauma that Andrea and her partner are being put through is absolutely unacceptable. It is a torturous and inhumane situation”.

The couple is now discharging themselves against medical advice as the hospital cannot legally tell them to leave to proceed with an abortion.

They decided to speak publically about their ordeal after Doctors For Choice shared the story anonymously on Wednesday. Despite international attention to the story, Maltese health authorities still haven’t publically addressed the situation.

The couple lives near Seattle, Washington and arrived in Malta earlier this month. Mr Weeldreyer told the outlet that they have been together for six years and are planning to get married.

They picked Malta as a travel destination partly because of its good healthcare system. They were in Gozo, a separate island northwest of the main island of Malta when Ms Prudente started to bleed heavily.

They went to Gozo General Hospital several times before being told last week that “the baby is going to die”. She was then admitted to Mater Dei Hospital.

“We wanted this baby. On the one hand, hearing the heartbeat comes with hope that we will be able to hold our baby girl. But that heartbeat is also an obstacle to my partner’s health,” Mr Weeldreyer told Times of Malta.

Miriam Sciberras of the anti-abortion group Life Network Foundation Malta told the outlet that doctors “try to save both mother and child but, if that is inevitable, they give the mother the care she needs even if subsequent to that the child loses his or her life”.

Maltese law states that those who are found to have ended a pregnancy or “caused a miscarriage”, including both medical workers and those who are pregnant, can be sent to prison for three years.

“The way the Maltese are talking about this is that it is an abortion, the truth of the matter is that it is an incomplete miscarriage,” Mr Weeldreyer told Euronews. “There is no possibility that this pregnancy results in a viable baby.”

“We have lost our daughter,” he said. “I haven’t had a chance to grieve yet.”

“We wanted to come here and have a romantic, connecting, and loving two-week holiday to celebrate having a family,” Mr Weeldreyer told the outlet. “Instead we are having to face Andrea’s peril.”

“Mentally and emotionally it is pretty brutal,” he added. “Andrea is exhausted, frustrated, angry.”

The Times of Malta reported that around 300-400 Maltese women a year leave the island for an abortion.

“We have had enough,” Dr Dimitrijevic told Euronews. “We have reached the end of our tether with this situation. It has to change.”

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