We are making this story public at the request of the patient and her partner, who have been in contact with us over the last few days.
Here is the story:
A 16-week pregnant woman, a US citizen currently on holiday in Malta, attended Gozo A&E and was later admitted to Mater Dei Hospital after suffering what seemed like a miscarriage, with heavy bleeding followed by breaking waters. An ultrasound showed ruptured membranes (broken waters) and a detaching placenta. However, the fetus still has a heartbeat.
International obstetric guidelines state that in such cases where the fetus is not yet viable (before 24 weeks), termination of pregnancy (ie: abortion) should be offered to avoid the risk of maternal infection and death. Infection can go through the ruptured membranes, into the uterus, then into the blood leading to death.
The patient has requested termination of pregnancy, but her request was denied. She was told doctors can only intervene if she is imminently dying – not even getting an infection is enough. She was also told doctors cannot even discuss the option of abortion with her.
The patient is now being forced to watch and wait at Mater Dei, putting her life at risk. The family is rightly distraught and desperate for a solution. Medical evacuation to the UK is being planned but this may not arrive in time.
They want their story made public in the hope of avoiding a tragedy. We do not want to have a case like Savita’s! We hope common sense prevails and this woman is allowed to have a termination before it is too late. We have also heard from Maltese women who were in similar situations but were scared to speak out. This is not right. Women have beating hearts too!