Story 44 - 29.11.2020
The total legal ban on abortion has an impact on anyone who is pregnant, irrespective of whether they intend to access an abortion or not. This story really highlights how harmful Malta's abortion laws are.
This story was made available to Break the Taboo Malta thanks to Doctors for Choice Malta.
"A year and a half ago my partner and I decided to use the intra uterine device for contraception. It is more than 99% effective at preventing pregnancies and very low maintenance and we were very pleased with it.
Some time ago I began to experience breast tenderness and bleeding just after a period and immediately felt that something was wrong. I took a pregnancy test, and we were both shocked to find it was positive. We discussed our options and even though it was unplanned and financially we would struggle, we decided to go through with the pregnancy. Deep down though, I felt that something was not right with the pregnancy and I was anxious to have a scan.
Within a few days we had a scan done and it confirmed my fear... it was ectopic. The pregnancy was not viable, the embryo could never survive; its existence threatened my fertility and my life.
It was a Saturday morning, and my gynaecologist was brilliant. The scan and bloods showed that I was a good candidate for treatment with a medicine called methotrexate that would treat the ectopic pregnancy without the need for surgery, and therefore would save my fallopian tube. My partner and I were distraught but relieved that I would be spared an operation. My gynaecologist warned me though that prescribing methotrexate for ectopic pregnancies in Malta was not a simple process.
The gynae team were very quick to prepare me and all the necessary paperwork for the methotrexate to be administered at Mater Dei hospital. However, since any form of abortion for any reason is illegal in Malta, there were significant barriers in place to hinder the doctors from administering the treatment. My case had to be brought to a board and discussed at length and then signed off by specific people in hospital before it could be dispensed. It took two and a half days for the medicine to be approved. In the meantime, the embryo was growing and so with every hour that passed my fallopian tube was more at risk of scarring and perforating (bursting), and the treatment itself was becoming less likely to work. My fertility and, indeed, my life were needlessly put at risk because of unnecessary procedural delays all stemming from this umbrella ban on abortion.
Eventually, the treatment was made available. The first dose did not work and the delay in treatment was partly to blame as this is a time-sensitive condition. I had to be re-admitted for another dose which thankfully did work. It was a traumatic experience made even more traumatic by the whole methotrexate issue. I’m thankfully on the road to recovery now but still incredulous at the status quo."