On the 21st of October in Galway, Savita Halappanavar was admitted to the hospital complaining of back pain. She was 17 weeks pregnant and was told, by her doctors, she was miscarrying. The same doctors told her there was no hope of saving the fetus and yet when she asked for an abortion she was refused. With the baby dying and the mother in increasing agony even an anti-choice person could see that an abortion to save the mother would be permissible. However for three days, while a fetal heartbeat remained, the doctors refused to perform the abortion because Ireland “is a Catholic country”. When the fetus was finally dead they extracted the corpse but it was too late for Savita. Her health had deteriorated during her ordeal until she suffered massive organ failure and died of septicaemia or blood poisoning on 28th October.
In summary over the course of a week a woman was forced to suffer agonising pain while her baby died inside her which directly lead to her own death. It sounds like the concept for a horror film.
Over the weekend over 10,000 people descended on Dublin to protest against Ireland’s draconian abortion laws. They chanted ‘Never Again, Never Again’ and called for new laws to protect women. It is a murky area in Irish law because although a supreme court decision made abortion to save the mother’s life legal it has never been codified in law. What makes it worse is that in this case it wasn’t even about pro/anti-choice. It was about saving a woman’s life.
Now I recently wrote about the particular brand of misogyny that seems to be endemic in geek culture. That is still bad but a horrifying thing like this gives a new perspective on the words of jerks. It serves as a stark reminder that words are not the half of what women have to put up with even in 2012, even in the so called developed world. It boggles the mind how much influence the Catholic church continues to have over politics in Ireland. Though perhaps I shouldn’t be so surprised given how long the infamous Magdalene Laundries persisted there. My problem with religion getting into bed with government is simple. If you are a Catholic woman and would rather die with your baby than have an abortion that is your choice and I will defend your right to make it. What appals me is forcing women like Savita, who wasn’t even Christian, to adhere to your moral values. I am pro-choice because all women have the right and the ability to make their own decisions. Taking away a woman’s free will in anything, let alone something as intensely personal as abortion is disgusting. The Catholic church, the doctors at Galway and Ireland’s politicians thought they knew what was best for Savita and now she is dead.
What more is there to say?
For more outrage and information:
- So Much for the “Life of the Mother”: The Death of Savita Halappanavar (persephonemagazine.com)
- Savita’s father calls for change to Ireland’s abortion laws (thehindu.com)
- More than 10,000 protest in Ireland over woman’s death from denied abortion (rt.com)
- Woman dies after abortion request ‘refused’ at Galway hospital (bbc.co.uk)