I’m taking bits and pieces of this story from various sources, so bear with me. I’m sure many of you already know about Savita Halappanavar by now – she was left to die because of Catholic Ireland’s law preventing the termination of pregnancy – even a guaranteed miscarriage – if the fetal heartbeat is present. Here are some details from Galway Pro-Choice:
Savita was first admitted to the hospital on October 21st complaining of severe back pain. Her doctor initially told her that she would be fine, but she refused to go home. It became clear that her waters had broken, and she was having a miscarriage (spontaneous abortion). She was told that the foetus had no chance of survival, and it would all be over within a few hours.
However, her condition did not take its expected course, and the foetus remained inside her body. Although it was evident that it could not survive, a foetal heartbeat was detected. For this reason her repeated requests to remove the foetus were denied. By Tuesday it was clear that her condition was deteriorating. She had developed a fever, and collapsed when attempting to walk. The cervix had now been fully open for nearly 72 hours, creating a danger of infection comparable to an untreated open head wound. She developed septicaemia.
Despite this, the foetus was not removed until Wednesday afternoon, after the foetal heartbeat had stopped. Immediately after the procedure she was taken to the high dependency unit. Her condition never improved. She died at 1.09am on Sunday the 28th of October.
Had the foetus been removed when it became clear that it could not survive, her cervix would have been closed and her chance of infection dramatically reduced. Leaving a woman’s cervix open constitutes a clear risk to her life. What is unclear is how doctors are expected to act in this situation.
Apparently the Supreme Court in Ireland ruled over 20 years ago that an abortion is allowed if the woman’s life is in danger, but there has been no legislation enacted to reflect this decision. The existing guidelines are so unclear that few doctors take the chance and go ahead with it, fearing legal repercussions after the fact. Here’s my favorite part of this entire thing:
“This is a Catholic country,” the consultant told Savita as she begged him to save her life. “As long as there is a fetal heartbeat we can’t do anything.”
A “Catholic Country” … by which he apparently means Ireland’s religious values mean that licensed medical professionals will not lift a finger to prevent you from dying in unbelievable agony from severe septic shock because the dying 17-week old fetus inside of you isn’t dead yet, but will be any time now. I’m sure that’s what God would want them to do.
Actually, you know what? Even if that perfectly reflects “God’s will”, then that’s only further proof that they desperately need to ditch Him and find another one because the one they currently worship is a malevolent psychopath. Sorry, but there is no divine mercy, grace, or love in letting someone die horribly because of the belief that a dying fetus is somehow more worthy than a living woman. The medical staff at Galway – with 21st century medical technology at their disposal – literally let someone die because of their 1st century religion.
That’s negligent homicide by any account.
Thankfully, there has been worldwide response to this tragedy. Maybe it will motivate Ireland to actually do something about their archaic laws to make sure this doesn’t happen again.