Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Meanwhile, in Ireland, Savita Halappanavar Dies After Being Denied an Abortion

The Irish Times reports:

Two investigations are under way into the death of a woman who was 17 weeks pregnant, at University Hospital Galway last month.
Savita Halappanavar (31), a dentist, presented with back pain at the hospital on October 21st, was found to be miscarrying, and died of septicaemia a week later.
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.
This was refused, he says, because the foetal heartbeat was still present and they were told, “this is a Catholic country”.
She spent a further 2½ days “in agony” until the foetal heartbeat stopped.
Intensive care
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.
An autopsy carried out by Dr Grace Callagy two days later found she died of septicaemia “documented ante-mortem” and E.coli ESBL.
Let's make this clear.  She was miscarrying.  The fetus could not be saved.  According to the Irish law abortion is legal to save the life of the pregnant woman.  She was in agony.  But she had to wait until the fetal heartbeat stopped.

Then her own heartbeat stopped.

Her widower:

Speaking from Belgaum in the Karnataka region of southwest India, Mr Halappanavar said an internal examination was performed when she first presented.
“The doctor told us the cervix was fully dilated, amniotic fluid was leaking and unfortunately the baby wouldn’t survive.” The doctor, he says, said it should be over in a few hours. There followed three days, he says, of the foetal heartbeat being checked several times a day.
“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.
“That evening she developed shakes and shivering and she was vomiting. She went to use the toilet and she collapsed. There were big alarms and a doctor took bloods and started her on antibiotics.
“The next morning I said she was so sick and asked again that they just end it, but they said they couldn’t.”

But at least nobody killed a fetus.  Well, god did, I guess.

The Guardian suggests that the Irish law about abortion being legal to save the woman's life is not properly implemented:

Ireland's health service executive, which runs the country's public health care system, has initiated an investigation into the incident, which is also being investigated by the hospital itself.
Reports of the death sparked an outcry on Wednesday night in Ireland, where abortion is illegal unless the life of the woman is in danger.
The Fine Gael/Labour government has struggled to respond to a 2010 ruling by the European court of human rights, which found it had failed to implement laws to enable women to have an abortion when their life is at risk during pregnancy.
Rachel Donnelly, a spokeswoman for pro-choice campaigners in Galway said: "This was an obstetric emergency which should have been dealt with in a routine manner. Yet Irish doctors are restrained from making obvious medical decisions by a fear of potentially severe consequences.
"As the European court ruled, as long as the 1861 Act remains in place, alongside a complete political unwillingness to touch the issue, pregnant women will continue to be unsafe in this country."

It's hard for me to understand a culture or a religion which is willing to waste a young woman's life this way,  assuming that the above descriptions of the case are true*.  Halappanavar was miscarrying.  There was no way for the fetus to be born alive.  Yet she was made to go through days of agony and then an early death.  For what possible reason?  Malpractice?  But what IS malpractice in a system of belief where women are aquaria?

In 2011 Ohio Republicans supported a measure to make abortions illegal after the fetus has a heartbeat:

The House voted 54 to 43 for the ban, along party lines, with most Republicans voting in favor.
If enacted, the law would be a challenge to the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling which upheld a woman's right to an abortion until the fetus is viable outside the womb, usually at 22-24 weeks.
Republican Ohio House Speaker William Batchelder said he knows this bill will face a court challenge.
"We're writing bills for courts," he said.
The bill now goes to the Republican-dominated Ohio Senate.
The Ohio House also passed two other abortion restrictions Tuesday, one that would ban late-term abortions after 20 weeks if a doctor determines that the fetus is viable outside the womb. Another bill excludes abortion coverage from the state insurance exchange created by the federal health care law.
The late-term ban already was passed by the Ohio Senate.
Neither bill was as contentious as the heartbeat legislation, which does not contain exceptions for rape, incest or the life or health of the mother.
Emphasis is mine.

The rumor is that these laws are coming back during the current lame duck season.   Though the Ohio laws are designed to test Roe v. Wade, their contents tell us that Ohio Republicans would not at all mind if other women died the same way Savita Halappanavar did!  Indeed, they wouldn't even bother with having abortion nominally legal for pregnancies which threaten the woman's life.
*That's a euphemism.  I understand those cultures and religions far too well.  May everything their supporters give to others return to them threefold.