Y'see Ireland has this law whereby abortion is made illegal. It's not actually supposed to include cases where there's a danger to the mother, but that didn't stop the recent ridiculously unnecessary screw-up. The law actually doesn't really so much stop abortions as make them extra specially difficult because anyone who wants one has to travel specially to the UK to get the procedure done. Of course, that's not really feasible when your fully intentional pregnancy has gone awry and you are in a severe condition in an Irish hospital.
This lovely lady is called Savita Halappanavar. She died tragically a week after being admitted to a hospital in Galway where she was found to be miscarrying. For three days she asked for doctors to terminate her pregnancy but this was refused on the grounds that: "This is a Catholic country." Apparently her response that she was neither Irish nor Catholic made no difference to this (she was Indian and Hindu).
Dr. Jen Gunter explains:
...“Miscarrying” at 17 weeks can only mean one of three things:Since Savita was told that the doctors would need to wait until the foetal heartbeat stopped before they could intervene, Dr. Gunter has a number of possible explanations, all of which are horrible:
A) Ruptured membranes
B) Advanced cervical dilation
C) Labor (this is unlikely, although it is possible that she had preterm labor that arrested and left her with scenario B, advanced cervical dilation).
All three of these scenarios have a dismal prognosis, none of which should involve the death of the mother.
As there is no medically acceptable scenario at 17 weeks where a woman is miscarrying AND is denied a termination, there can only be three plausible explanations for Ms. Hapappanavar’s “medical care” :And it only gets worse...
1) Irish law does indeed treat pregnant women as second class citizens and denies them appropriate medical care. The medical team was following the law to avoid criminal prosecution.
2) Irish law does not deny women the care they need; however, a zealous individual doctor or hospital administrator interpreted Catholic doctrine in such a way that a pregnant woman’s medical care was somehow irrelevant and superceded by heart tones of a 17 weeks fetus that could never be viable.
3) Irish law allows abortions for women when medically necessary, but the doctors involved were negligent in that they could not diagnose infection when it was so obviously present, did not know the treatment, or were not competent enough to carry out the treatment.
What we do know is that a young, pregnant, woman who presented to the hospital in a first world country died for want of appropriate medical care. Whether it’s Irish Catholic law or malpractice, only time will tell; however, no answer could possibly ease the pain and suffering of Ms. Halappanavar’s loved ones.
This is Senator Ronan Mullen. He's decided to take this moment to announce that: "he hoped protestors outside the Dáil would not use the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar as an argument for legislating for abortion."
Yes, because clearly a woman dying from being denied an abortion is NOT the time to start asking questions about access to abortion, right? No, instead it's the PERFECT TIME to start denouncing any such idea and SHAMING anyone who even dreamt of bringing up the matter, obviously! *facepalm*
(Reminds me of the pro-gun guy who got upset that people were suggesting that the Colorado shootings might indicate that gun control was lacking. But at least he was just some random guy on the internet and not a public figure in a position of authority.)
Meanwhile the minister for health, James Reilly, reckons that it's too early to say whether ties to a Catholic ethos were at fault:
Speaking in the Dáil this evening, he said we "could not pre-judge" the situation, adding he had no evidence to suggest a Catholic ethos at the hospital prevented the pregnant woman's life from being saved by a medical termination.
Okay, fair enough, I suppose that's true. However, if we consider Dr. Gunter's words, Reilly appears to be ignoring the seemingly inevitable consequences of what he's saying here. If the Catholic ethos was not at responsible for this tragedy, either through Ireland's Catholicism-determined anti-abortion law or in through the practices of the medical staff at the hospital, then there is only one possible alternative. That alternative is that the medical staff involved were abysmally and ludicrously incompetent.
In the meantime there are candlelit vigils across Ireland in response to this tragedy. One might have hoped that the Irish authorities would take it a little more seriously.... D':
(Guardian - Ireland should change abortion law)
(Dr. Gunter considers the case)
(Reilly: No evidence Catholic ethos prevented Savita's life from being saved)
(Pharyngula weighs in)
(Images of vigils and protests)