• Wed, Nov 14 2012

Woman Denied Abortion To Save Her Life And Guess What Happened

operating roomThere is a terrible tragedy in Ireland that’s giving fresh perspective to the abortion debate, especially in cases where the life of the mother is at risk. Savita Halappanavar was 17 weeks pregnant when she went to the University Hospital in Galway, Ireland with severe back pain. She was told that she was in the process of miscarrying. For three days, the 31-year-old woman asked for a medical termination of the pregnancy while suffering through extreme pain. However, the hospital refused to perform the abortion, leading to complications that ended up costing Savita her life.

Savita’s husband says that the hospital refused to perform the medical procedure his wife needed because there was still a fetal heartbeat detectable. She was even told by hospital personnel, “This is a Catholic country.” Of course, by the time the baby’s heartbeat had stopped and the doctors agreed to remove the fetus, the damage was too great to the mother as well. Savita Halappanavar died due to septicaemia a week after entering the hospital.

The tragic loss of life has launched investigations into the actions of the hospital, as it well should. Even though abortion is illegal in Ireland, there are exceptions for situations where the life of the woman is in danger. Obviously, this case met that criteria, and yet a young woman is still gone.

The problem is that people truly don’t understand the dangers of pregnancy and the possible consequences for women when things go wrong. We saw that type of ignorance here in the United States, when soon-to-be-former Illinois Representative Joe Walsh said that abortion to save the life of the mother was never medically necessary. In fact, Walsh said, “with modern technology and science, you can’t find one instance” in which a woman would actually die if she continued to carry a pregnancy. Well, Mr. Walsh, here’s one horribly sad instance.

It is sad enough that women in Ireland are unable to make their own medical decisions regarding reproductive health, no matter what the cause or circumstance. It is horrible to find that they aren’t even able to stay safe and healthy because some believe that the contents of a woman’s uterus is more important than her own life.

Savita Halappanavar was already miscarrying. Her doctors determined that when she got to the hospital. Her pregnancy hadn’t hit even the earliest estimates of fetal viability, which is normally considered to be between 22 and 24 weeks. There was no chance that her pregnancy, no matter how wanted and cherished, would have ended with a healthy baby. Yet, those doctors held on. They refused that abortion without any regard for the possible consequences. And Savita paid the price.

It’s hard to say much more about this case, aside from how sad it is. A woman was denied the medical care she needed. Now a man has lost his wife. Parents have lost their daughter. This was a possibly preventable death. Unfortunately, Savita’s life didn’t seem to be the doctor’s top priority.

(Photo: vhpfoto/Shutterstock)

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  • TheLily

    I know there isn’t much to say, other than the fact that my mother is a Catholic and I am going to eternally grateful to her for the abortion she encouraged me to have. I know that when she drove me to the hospital she was fighting with her faith, but for my health it wasn’t worth the struggle she would have with God if I had died while pregnant and she would have never forgiven herself for forcing me to wait for a miscarriage again.
    My heart goes out to the family and friends. I cannot imagine how they feel. It must be horrible knowing that the child couldn’t be saved, but she might have been.

  • Dutchess

    This is sort of misleading, the doctors CANNOT do anything according to law. They didn’t just say “Yeah, no it’s Catholic” ,

    • lea

      Wrong. They CAN do something when the mother’s life is in danger, as it clearly was. They CHOSE not to.

    • maureen

      Actually, according to Irish law the doctor’s cannot perform an abortion if the fetus still has a heartbeat. It would have been illegal for them to abort her fetus when she arrived at the hospital. By the time they could legally perform the abortion, days had passed, the woman already had blood poisoning. So sad that this could happen in the 21st century…

    • LoveyDovey

      In fact, they DID say that their reason was because they’re a Catholic country. This is literally a case of someone forcing their religious beliefs on someone who doesn’t share them, and she died because of that.

  • Yves

    My question is when a woman presents with an ectopic pregnancy, do that terminate that? Or do all the ectopically pregnant women in Ireland’s Fallopian tubes just burst all over the place?

    It always makes me laugh when people claim that it’s rare for a woman to die in childbirth or for her health to be compromised. First off, something as common as an ectopic pregnancy IS technically treated by performing an “abortion.” t is so common and routine. Secondly, I am a L&D nurse and I have seen woman die in childbirth. No it’s not common, but it absolutely happens everyone once in a long while. I am actually pro-life, but there MUST MUST MUST be medical exceptions to prevent a woman from dying or becoming severely incapacitated.

  • Nat

    The woman wasn’t even Irish or Catholic. That was something she said during day two when she begged for termination: “I am neither Irish, nor Catholic.” This is disgusting.

    • maureen

      I don’t think her religion or race is relevant, since the law doesn’t change according to religion/race of the individual – even if she was Irish and Catholic, she should have had access to an abortion. By the way, it is apparently common in Ireland for women seeking abortions to flee to Britain. I’m surprised that in 2012, a European country still has such an antiquated abortion policy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Carmen-Finnigan/841528248 Carmen Finnigan

    Forget being pro-life or pro-choice; I’m going to be pro-humanity and this is bloody monstrous and inhuman.

  • Ollie_Cat

    Is it even really an abortion if she is already miscarrying? If there is no way the baby could have survived? I mean, I am very anti-abortion in almost all cases, but I would have had the “abortion” in this case. I am hesitant to call it that, because it doesn’t feel that way emotionally to me. Either way, this is just disgusting.

  • Less biased

    It’s so funny how twisted this story has gotten. First, this woman died of malpractice and because the doctors weren’t following Ireland’s law of protecting the mother’s life first, not because abortion is illegal in Ireland. Second, Ireland has a much lower maternal mortality rate than most countries where abortion is perfectly legal, including the U.S. Third, I haven’t seen any coverage on Mommyish of the women who have died in the past few weeks from abortion, including the teenager in the UK from what is considered one of the “safer” abortion procedures– RU-486 pills. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1026005/Mothers-heartbreak-A-level-student-dies-weeks-taking-abortion-drugs.html.

    • LoveyDovey

      Illegal abortions do more damage and take more lives than legal ones. And your info on how she died is way off. She died from both an E. coli infection (probably from her cervix being wide open for days in a hospital where superbugs sometimes hit), and BLOOD POISONING which was determined to be from the dying fetus.

      They point-blank told her she wasn’t getting the abortion she wanted because they’re Catholic. They literally forced their beliefs on her and she’s dead for it.

      It’s nobody’s business but the woman and her doctor’s if she wants an abortion. Why is this the only medical procedure people feel is OK to regulate to this extent? Nobody is protesting outside of urology clinics where they do vasectomies.

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