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  • Andrea Prudente, from Washington, almost died after being denied an abortion in Malta when she miscarried on holiday.
  • She is asking the court to declare they violated her human rights and that they continue to do so by banning abortion with no exception.

An American woman who almost died after being denied an abortion in Malta is taking the country’s health department to court.

Andrea Prudente tells Insider she was “disempowered, dehumanized,” and “tortured” when she was denied a medically necessary abortion when she miscarried on holiday.

She has now filed a complaint against the Maltese government for violating four articles of the Maltese constitution, four of the European Human Rights constitution, and a number of other international human rights laws.

Insider has seen the complaint, which says the refusal of an abortion “seriously put applicant’s life in jeopardy and delayed the administration of acceptable treatment by international standards,” which added to “inhuman and degrading treatment.”

The application requests that the health department not only recognize that they breached Prudente’s rights and should pay her damages, but the court application also asks to have the government declare that it continues to breach fundamental and international human rights by criminalizing and banning abortion for all in Malta.

Malta is the only one of 27 EU countries to have a total ban on abortion with no exception.

Members of the public hold up placards at the abortion rights rally on September 25, 2022 in Valletta, Malta(Photo by Joanna Demarco/Getty Images)

Prudente, 38, and her partner Jay Weeldreyer went to Malta to have a “babymoon” to celebrate her pregnancy with their first child, a baby girl. But, when the pair’s dream vacation had just started, Prudente’s water broke, and her placenta started detaching at just 16 weeks, making her pregnancy no longer viable.

She needed a procedure known as a dilation and curettage, or D&C, to clear her uterus, or else she was at risk of a life-threatening infection.

But the fetus, which doctors confirmed would never be able to survive, still had a heartbeat, and this meant that Malta’s total ban on abortion prohibited Prudente from getting the treatment she urgently needed.

She stayed in the Mater Dei hospital in Malta for over a week before being flown to Spain to have an abortion.

She describes to Insider heartbreaking scenes of praying not to hear the heartbeat of the baby she truly wanted to have, just so her own life could be saved.

“We had a terrible situation where my baby couldn’t survive, not a chance, so there was only one life to protect and it was mine, but they failed to do that,” she told Insider, from her home state of Washington.

A woman's 'babymoon' turned into a nightmare when she miscarried and nearly died. Now she's suing Malta's government for refusing her an abortion.
Members of the public hold up placards at the abortion rights rally on September 25, 2022 in Valletta, Malta.Photo by Joanna Demarco/Getty Images

“Miscarriage is always heartbreaking and traumatic, but there was also this constructed nightmare around it that was totally unnecessary. I received the message in no unclear terms that my life had less value than the hypothetical value of the life of my unviable baby, and that was really hard to stomach.”

Speaking about her lawsuit against the Maltese authorities, she said, “I really hope this complaint can influence laws in Malta, or at the very least add an important component to the conversation about abortion rights,” she said, adding, “I think a lot of times, the really staunch anti-abortion arguments come from a philosophical place, and they’re not really interested in the real human experience of what those kinds of laws actually mean.

“Circumstances where abortion really isn’t a choice, where it really is just medical care, really needs to be talked about and to be factored into these laws in Malta, and anywhere else where there is a blanket ban on abortion.

She said these bans, some of which came into force across the US while she was in Malta, “don’t make sense and harm women very tangibly.”

Malta’s abortion laws have been a source of harsh political debate within the European — and global — political sphere for years, with the pro-choice Maltese group Doctors for Choice estimating that at least 100 women in Malta are forced to travel abroad for abortions each year, with many more receiving abortion pills by post.

Talking about Prudente’s story in the EU Parliament, a group of Italian Members of the European Parliament said “This is not the first time that this Maltese law has almost cost a woman her life.”

There are very few official statistics on abortion in Malta, and due to the taboo around the topic, stories are very rarely shared.

“In Malta, culturally, abortion has been so taboo, and any woman who goes through a situation like mine is so opposed to speaking out about it because the social repercussions are so damning, they’ll be ostracised and rejected by their families,” Prudente said.

“I am in a unique position as an outsider where I am not afraid, I wasn’t the first, and I won’t be the last, as long as laws like this stay in place,” she said.

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