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Austin Cline

Catholics in Ireland Kill Woman by Denying Her an Abortion

By November 16, 2012

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Savita Halappanavar, a 31-year-old dentist, was 17 weeks pregnant when she went to the University Hospital Galway for back pain. The doctors found that she was in fact miscarrying - slowly, but badly enough that there was no chance her fetus would survive. They would not, however, perform an abortion to save her life. Because of their Catholic convictions, she died a slow and painful death.

Abortion: America's Holocaust?
Abortion: America's Holocaust?
Photo: Paula Bronstein/Getty

I've seen conflicting information on whether or not an abortion in a case like this would be legal, but apparently an abortion to save a woman's life is permitted under the Irish constitution. If that's the case, then the hospital refused to save this woman's life solely out of a preference for following personal, private religious rules. In such a situation, all those involves should, in my opinion, be charged with murder or with being an accessory to murder.

It's been admitted that the statement "this is a Catholic country" was given directly to the woman to justify not performing an abortion and letting her die slowly. I guess that excuse can cover a lot of things, like not protecting kids from rape and not ensuring full equality for the female half of the human race.

Her husband, Praveen Halappanavar (34), an engineer at Boston Scientific in Galway, says she asked several times over a three-day period that the pregnancy be terminated. He says that, having been told she was miscarrying, and after one day in severe pain, Ms Halappanavar asked for a medical termination. ...

She spent a further 2 days "in agony" until the foetal heartbeat stopped. The dead foetus was removed and Savita was taken to the high dependency unit and then the intensive care unit, where she died of septicaemia on the 28th.

"Savita was really in agony. She was very upset, but she accepted she was losing the baby. When the consultant came on the ward rounds on Monday morning Savita asked if they could not save the baby could they induce to end the pregnancy. The consultant said, 'As long as there is a foetal heartbeat we can't do anything'.

"Again on Tuesday morning, the ward rounds and the same discussion. The consultant said it was the law, that this is a Catholic country. Savita [a Hindu] said: 'I am neither Irish nor Catholic' but they said there was nothing they could do.

A hospital spokesman ... said the hospital extended its sympathy to the family and friends of Ms Halappanavar...

Source: Irish Times

This sort of outcome is only to be expected in a community that relies upon religion for morality - and theistic religion in particular. Religious morality is almost always rules-based morality and this tendency is even stronger among theistic religions. Rules-based moral systems are inflexible and too often lead to the sacrifice of people's lives, health, and well-being for the sake of adhering to abstract principles.

Rules are important, it is true, but they can't be used as an altar to sacrifice innocent people on. People who cause the deaths of others or even just allow others to die because they believe that their religion requires it have themselves become agents of immorality. They may claim to be upholding the highest moral standards, but the reality is exactly the opposite.

November 16, 2012 at 7:03 pm
(1) Clodagh Power says:

The Irish people voted 20 years ago that a woman has the right to an abortion if her life is in danger. The people spoke. The church interfered and twice in the intervening years there were referenda which ultimately upheld the original vote.

The problem is this… Politicians have repeatedly failed to legislate this, resulting in doctors being in danger of serving 2 years min prison sentence if they perform an abortion. Doctors are not protected because self-serving politicians have failed to legislate. Now someone has died & it has sparked international interest they may actually finally do something about it.

It really is a travesty & yet another reason to only have secular politics.

November 23, 2012 at 6:59 pm
(2) Sally says:

Well put, Clodagh Power.

I have put my position on abortion many times (“If something is growing in *my* body that I don’t want to be there, it has no more rights than a tumour – and *I* have every right to have it removed, at the time and under the conditions of my own choosing. And no man – nor anybody’s invisible friend – has any right to an opinion on the matter!”)

What remain is to say that too many of the world’s problems are caused by old men in holy vestments (and the sheep that they lead).

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