- A US woman was denied a life-saving abortion needed after her waters broke and her placenta detached at 16 weeks.
- Malta is the only EU country that has a total ban on abortion.
- This case "shows us the hellscape that waits around the corner" in the USA, one expert said.
A US woman on vacation in Malta faced being killed by her pregnancy but was refused an abortion. One expert says it is an insight into the "hellscape" that could be created if the Supreme Court 0verturns the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling.
Andrea Prudente, 38, and her partner Jay Weeldreyer were ecstatic that they were pregnant with their first child, a baby girl. To celebrate the last few months before parenthood, they went on a 'babymoon' to Malta.
But disaster struck soon after the couple from Washington arrived on the Mediterranean island, they told Insider. Andrea's water broke, and her placenta started detaching at just 16 weeks. Her pregnancy was no longer viable.
But the traumatic experience became life-threatening due to Malta's ban on abortion.
She needed her uterus cleared by a D&C procedure to save her from potentially life-threatening infections, Weeldryer told Insider on the seventh day of their hospital stay.
However, her fetus still had a heartbeat, and doctors at Malta's Mater Dei Hospital refused her the life-saving treatment as they viewed it as an abortion. They have not responded to Insider's request for comment.
Malta is the only EU country that has a total abortion ban. Women who have them and doctors who help them can be sentenced to prison.
"What we have is we have a miscarriage. It's already like 80% complete, and these medical professionals have decided, instead of defining it as a miscarriage that threatens the mother's life, they've decided to call it an abortion," Weeldryer, an entrepreneur, told Insider.
So the pair were confronted with an agonizing decision. Either leave the hospital against medical advice and board a commercial flight to nearby Spain or London and get an abortion — risking fully miscarrying and potentially hemorrhaging on a plane.
Weeldreyer said, "maybe she gets in the hospital safely. Maybe she dies. That's not an option that I'm okay with."
For days, the couple was told that air ambulances couldn't fly them out of the country as it was too "risky," but they eventually managed to fly out to Spain late on 23 June to receive the treatment they desperately needed.
The couple has now confirmed to Insider that Prudente has received the life-saving treatment and is resting.
Speaking to Insider from the hospital before they knew if they had an escape route, Weeldreyer said, "the worst part about it is, none of this is necessary, literally within 15 feet of where we currently sit are all of the skills necessary. Like there are world-class doctors here who can perform this procedure.
"And the truth of it is, due to the Maltese structure, the dark places that Andrea and I have found ourselves going to are just unreal. These things are extraordinary and have caused unimaginable suffering. It's entirely avoidable and stoppable at any moment," Weeldreyer said.
"We're trapped and desperate," Prudente, a headshot photographer, told Insider from her hospital bed.
"They're embracing the idea that it's perfectly fine for women to die"
Prudente and her partner's trauma came against the backdrop of the imminent Supreme Court ruling that could massively reduce abortion access for US women and reverse nearly 50 years of the constitutional right to choose established by the historic Roe v Wade.
The Malta case "shows us the hellscape that waits around the corner" in the USA, said Schlachter. "It is just one indication of what will happen to women and families," said Beth Schlachter, the Director of Global Advocacy and US Representative at the International Planned Parenthood Foundation.
"This loving couple, instead of having the time they need to heal and mourn the loss of this pregnancy together, are pitched into an unimaginable situation," Schlachter said.
Schlachter told Insider they were "held hostage to the political and religious beliefs of another country."
Schlachter highlighted the new abortion restrictions in Indiana as replicating the anguish of the case in Malta. "They're deliberately embracing the idea that it's perfectly fine for women to die as long as they preserve some idea of the sanctity of an unborn fetus. We're heading into that," she said.
"There's going to be complete and utter chaos in the United States, where the 50 different states have 50 different laws and regulations and approaches to abortion," Schlachter said.