A Canadian woman who once had to be flown out of Malta to terminate an unviable pregnancy has called for Maltese law to allow for termination in circumstances when the baby has no chance of survival but the mother’s health is at risk.
“Pregnancy is one of the best moments in one’s life and for it to turn deadly for no good reason makes me crazy,” Marion Mifsud Mora, said, calling for “common sense to prevail”.
Mifsud Mora, whose father is Maltese, was reacting to the case involving US couple Andrea Prudente, 38, and her partner Jay Weeldreyer, 45, who flew to Mallorca on Thursday to terminate Prudente's unviable pregnancy over fears for her health.
Just like Mifsud Mora, Prudente's waters broke while on holiday in Malta and, with no fluid left in her womb, she was told the baby would not survive. She was not in imminent danger.
However, abortion is strictly against the law, despite fear of life-threatening infection.
'Zero chance of survival'
“In cases such as these, it is nothing less than abusive. The baby has zero chance of survival. Still, to this day, I ask why and how does this make any sense at all? What is this law really about?
“I still want an answer as to why because this just seems like a common sense situation to allow the removal of the foetus for the mental and physical state of the mother,” Mifsud Mora told Times of Malta.
Pro-choice campaigners Doctors For Choice Malta have said the case of the US couple highlights the need to decriminalise abortion, which would allow doctors to terminate a pregnancy in such a case.
The Life Network Foundation Malta has insisted that doctors already have a legal and ethical obligation to do all that they can to save the life of the mother, whatever the consequences to the unborn child.
It just seems like a common sense situation to allow the removal of the foetus for the mental and physical state of the mother
It is the current legal framework that Canadian-born Mifsud Mora is challenging.
In 2014, she had come to Malta on holiday “to rediscover her roots” with her young daughter Valetta who is now 11. She was 17 weeks pregnant.
'Massive emotional and physical trauma'
On September 1, her waters broke when she was on a bus to Valletta. At Mater Dei Hospital they eventually told her that she had no fluid left and the pregnancy was no longer viable. Even though there was still a heartbeat, the baby would not survive. Her husband caught the first flight out of Canada.
Meanwhile, infection set in and Marion started losing strength. Back then she wrote: “It was clear that the pregnancy needed to be terminated. I had wanted this baby and I was going through massive emotional and physical trauma. It was not even as though I was seeking termination because I got pregnant by accident. The fact that this baby was not going to make it was a cause of huge heartbreak.
“But, of course, my husband and I had our daughter to think of and my health. The only solution was to terminate the pregnancy as soon as possible as, in the meantime, my life was in danger… my health was deteriorating fast… There was still a weak heartbeat, so they continued to refuse termination even though the baby wouldn’t survive the birth at 18 weeks of pregnancy. I kept on risking my life to give birth to a baby that would die.”
Evacuated to Paris
Eventually, her insurance company got involved and she was evacuated to Paris where she delivered the baby naturally. The baby did not survive. She was sick for three months afterwards as the infection kept returning.
“Infection is common in these cases. I don’t blame them for the infection. Termination isn’t the first go-to. But once a pregnancy is deemed non-viable then I blame them for the mental abuse and the lack of physical assistance a woman’s body needs to help complete the miscarriage.”
The following year, Marion got pregnant with her son, Romeo.
“I do understand there is a law that needs to be respected. But medical situations need to be looked at individually. The law needs to be addressed and fast. It is an issue of women’s medical rights, after all.”
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