That Sigh of Relief

Before the election, I had been dreadfully worried about what would happen to reproductive healthcare if Romney won.  Being half pessimist, I was pretty sure he would win, and so I probably worried excessively.

Obama’s win brought a big sigh of relief for me.  I thought, yay, Obama won, there’s hope for reproductive justice.  The day after the election, when we only had two protesters at the clinic, it seemed like the beginning of a new era.

Of course, the anti’s have turned out in their usual numbers since then ~ no new era at the clinic.  And this news story reminds me of the difficulties we still face.

According to The Guardian, {article here} Savita Halappanavar, a woman in Ireland died in the hospital having a miscarriage.  She was 17 weeks pregnant, and having back pain.  The doctors told her she was miscarrying.  They would not remove the fetus from her body because there was still a heartbeat.

Hospitals in Ireland follow Catholic guidelines.  No abortion for any reason. Savita Halappanavar was neither Irish nor Catholic.  But by the time the fetus no longer had a heartbeat, she was so ill that they couldn’t save her.  She died of septicaemia and E Coli.

Of course, that couldn’t happen here.  Abortion is illegal in Ireland.  Abortion is still legal in the US.  So that couldn’t happen here, right?

Oh, wait.  Catholic hospitals in the United States follow Catholic guidelines.  If you go to a Catholic hospital here, the same thing could happen.  Would happen, I guess.

Remember Sister Margaret McBride, the nun at St. Joseph Hospital in Phoenix who was excommunicated by the Catholic church because she agreed that a woman in the hospital should have an abortion to save her life?  The woman was too sick to be moved to another hospital and would have died.  If Sister Margaret had followed the teachings of the Catholic Church, she would not have approved the abortion, and the woman would have died.

I’m not trying to stir my own anxiety to the level it was at before the election, but the death of Savita Halappanavar reminds me of the continuing push by anti-abortionist groups, who, in their zeal to overturn Roe v Wade, insist that abortion is never medically necessary.

Tragically, Savita’s death reminds us ~ that’s not true.  And her death remminds me, there’s lots of work still to be done here.

5 thoughts on “That Sigh of Relief

  1. One life could have been saved, but instead two were lost and many were left wounded by the casualties. Savita’s husband Praveen is never going to forget watching his lovely bright-eyed wife dying in a really horrific fashion. He’s lost his entire family because others decided they knew better or were too cowardly to do the right thing in spite of the consequences. That is utterly unacceptable. Simply because something is religious doesn’t mean it’s sacred, right, or remotely worthy of respect or tolerance. MURDERING somebody by neglect should not be tolerated by a civilized society. Savita sadly won’t be the last life stolen by the moral abomination known as the Catholic Church.

  2. The death of Savita Halappanavar should provoke outrage in anyone truly concerned about the health of women.

    Hopefully the investigation will shed some light on why Mrs. Halappanavar was refused treatment for miscarriage, when this treatment is regularly administered in this country, and is allowed for by the law and by the Medical Council.

    The treatment she needed was legal, so there is no question that a change in the law is what is needed here. It is medical negligence that she was not treated urgently.

    In cases where the fetus is still alive, the Medical Council in part 21.4 of its guidelines for medical doctors states that treatment is allowed even if “there is little of no hope of the baby surviving”.

    The treatment that Mrs. Halappanavar should have received is legal in this country. In fact, it is standard medical procedure in cases like hers. That she wasn’t treated is a failure of the hospital and medical team, not a problem with the law.

    I suspect that the medical council will strike off one or more people because of this and rightly so.

    The greatest thing we can do to honour Savita’s life is to insist on obstetric excellence – that is what saves women’s lives, not abortion.

    • Thank you, Sarah. I really appreciate that input, and am relieved to hear it. I’ll be watching for any new information on how the system went wrong.

    • Although. – I just noticed that you said something about it not being abortion that saves women’s lives and that confuses me. In this case it would have saved one woman’s life.

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