When babymoons go wrong: Which European countries are safe for pregnant women?
If you’re thinking of booking a final pampering stay before submitting to diapers and breastfeeding time, you’re not alone.
Babymoons have become increasingly popular with expectant parents in recent years. Often considered as a last romantic adventure, they are a way for future dads and moms to soothe their anxieties and relax as a couple before the baby arrives.
But that’s not how things turned out for Andrea Prudente and Jay Weeldreyer, an American couple who suffered a horrific ordeal during their babymoon in Malta Last week.
It was an experience that every pregnant woman dreads. While 16 weeks pregnant on vacation, Prudente suffered a partial miscarriage. To make matters worse, she was then denied life-saving medical treatment due to Malta’s strict anti-abortion laws.
“We wanted to come here and have a romantic, connected and loving two weeks vacation to celebrate having a family,” Weeldreyer told Euronews last week. “Instead, we must face Andrea’s peril.”
Prudente was sent to Majorca Thursday to get the emergency procedure she needed. But the tragic incident raised a sobering question.
Should women consider local abortion laws when choosing where they intend to go on vacation?
Is Malta a good place for a babymoon?
Local abortion laws become painfully relevant for female travelers who begin to miscarry abroad.
Malta is currently the only EU country to outright ban abortion, including in situations where a woman’s health is at risk.
Medical terminology is not straightforward when it comes to miscarriage. In Prudente’s case, the procedure she needed to safely manage her miscarriage was classified as abortion treatment because the fetus still had a heartbeat.
“The way the Maltese talk about it is it’s an abortion, the truth is it’s an incomplete miscarriage,” said Weeldreyer, the baby’s father. “There is no possibility that this pregnancy will result in a viable baby.”
In Malta, doctors who help a woman have an abortion risk up to four years in prison and can have their license to practice medicine permanently revoked.
Following Prudente’s experience last week, a group of 135 doctors in Malta have filed a legal protest asking the government to urgently review Maltese Abortion Laws.
But, for now, traveling to Malta by babymoon comes with potential risks.
Which European countries make abortion difficult?
Malta is not the only European country to take an anti-abortion stance.
Poland – a popular country for city breaks like Krakow and Warsaw – controversially rolled back women’s rights in 2020 by enacting a near-total ban on abortion. They are now legal only in cases of rape or incest, or when the pregnancy threatens the woman’s life.
And although North Ireland decriminalized abortions in 2019, the local government has been criticized for not implementing comprehensive abortion services there for the past 2.5 years.
Many women in Northern Ireland still do not have access to the medical rights enshrined in UK law.
What other countries have strict abortion laws?
The Roe vs. Wade knockdown in the United States last Friday left women around the world in shock and put global abortion rights in the spotlight.
There are currently only a handful of countries that, like Malta, completely ban abortion. The list includes Egyptthe Philippines, Laos, Suriname, Nicaragua and Honduras.
But many others – like MexicoBrazil, Chile, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Tanzania – will only perform abortions to save a woman’s life.
And while some of these destinations don’t seem like likely choices for women planning a babymoon, the fact is that women can get pregnant anywhere in the world.
Is the risk of miscarriage a problem for travelers?
Early miscarriages are more common than most people realize. According to Tommy’s, the UK’s largest charity specializing in pregnancy complications, the risk of miscarriage in the first three months is 1 in 4.
The risk of miscarriage decreases dramatically after the first trimester, affecting only 1-2% of pregnancies up to 24 weeks.
Although Tommy’s travel advice does not cover international termination laws at this time, the charity told Euronews Travel that it is considering putting together advice on this issue, given recent events in the States. United and elsewhere.
The message? If you’re traveling and have a uterus, it might be a good idea to find out where a destination stands on abortion and miscarriage before you book your plane ticket.