Abortion Law Death Sentence In Ireland

This post isn't about abortion. It's about choices. It's about choosing one life over another, and who makes that choice.

31 year old Savita Halappanavar died needlessly on October 28, 2012 at University Hospital Galway. She was a 31 year old dentist, active in her community, and sadly suffering from a natural miscarriage. Doctors informed Savita and her husband that the dying fetus could not possibly survive, and it's continued presence in Savita's body was poisoning her. The doctors went on to explain that  they would not remove the fetus while it's heartbeat was still present, even if that meant Savita's death. Failure to remove the non-viable fetus lead to blood poisoning and massive organ failure, and Savita died.

I call this murder. Her doctors had to choose between saving her life and their own potential imprisonment, loss of medical licenses, and vilification. They chose to let her die. 

Ireland's constitution officially bans abortion, but a 1992 Supreme Court ruling said the procedure should be legal when the woman's life is at risk from continuing the pregnancy - exactly the situation in Savita's case. Sadly, a lack of direct medical guidelines relating to the law leaves doctors too uncertain to risk performing the procedure, even when there is clearly no other choice. 

A doctor found performing an abortion in Ireland can lose their medical license and faces imprisonment. Women who seek abortions can be punished by life imprisonment4,000 Irish women go to England every year for abortions, where they have been legal since 1967.

On November 19, 2012 the Health Service Executive named a seven member panel to investigate Savita's death. The next day, three members of the panel were asked to step down when Savita's husband refused to cooperate with the panel due to their connections to University Hospital. 
Here in America, I await the findings with unease. There are anti-abortionists in the U.S. working to pass "personhood" legislation... they attempt to sound reasonable but the echos of "legitimate rape" highlight the dangers of black and white thinking regarding women's health. 
I have suffered the harrowing pain of wanting to conceive and being unable. I have survived miscarriage. I am a fan of adoption. I am a champion of children. I believe in sacrificing for children. But if the child can not be saved, and the state chooses to let a woman suffer the loss of her child and also the loss of her life... that's unspeakable and avoidable tragedy. 
Ireland is a socially grounded country with universal healthcare, education, and senior care. Ireland is a compassionate society. Why do you think the laws in Ireland are so uncharacteristically unrelenting regarding the termination of a fetus to save a mother's life?



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