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  • Writer's pictureDoctors for Choice

A woman has just died in a case like Andrea Prudente's

Updated: Jul 28, 2023

On the 24th May 2023 in Poland, a 33 year old pregnant woman's life was cut short because she was denied a life-saving abortion. Poland is considered to have the second most restrictive abortion law in the EU after Malta.

Three days prior to her tragic death, Dorota Lalik was admitted to a hospital in Nowy Targ, Poland, with ruptured membranes at 20 weeks of pregnancy. This was before the fetus could survive outside the womb, so the chances of her pregnancy leading to a healthy baby were almost non-existent. Since Dorota was admitted to a Catholic hospital called John Paul II, she was not offered an abortion to end her troubled pregnancy, and she was not told about how an abortion could save her life.

Dorota was treated "conservatively," which means doctors did not terminate the pregnancy and continued to observe her. She then developed a devastating infection, which is a direct complication of ruptured membranes, and she died a few hours later. Dorota's husband told the media, "“No one told us that we had practically no chance for a healthy baby … The entire time they were giving us false hope that everything will be OK … that [in the worst case] the child will be premature... No one gave us the choice or the chance to save Dorota, because no one told us her life was at risk.”

Dorota's case is very similar, in fact almost identical, to the case of Andrea Prudente last year. Andrea was admitted to hospital in Gozo and then in Malta with ruptured membranes at around 17 weeks of pregnancy. She could not be offered an abortion because as it stands even life-saving abortions are illegal in Malta. Instead, she was treated conservatively, and she could have suffered the same fate as Dorota. Andrea's case had a happier ending because she contacted help and was eventually lifted in an air ambulance to Spain, where her dangerous pregnancy was terminated.

Dorota's tragic case, and the near-miss last year with Andrea Prudente, highlight the need to pass Bill 28 without delay. Bill 28 is a parliamentary bill that, if passed, would decriminalise abortion when a woman's life or health are at grave risk. Although it would not guarantee that a case like Dorota's would not happen in Malta - because experience in other countries shows that anything less than full decriminalisation of abortion causes doctors to be reluctant to terminate pregnancies - it would nonetheless go a long way to reduce the risk pregnant women face in Malta.

Update: This article was written before the government announced the new wording for Bill 28. We believe the new wording potentially makes the situation more dangerous for women than the status quo, and we have therefore withdrawn support for this bill.


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