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Ireland: Where a Foetus Counts For More Than A Woman

Well, that’s the dismal and wholly predictable consequence of Ireland’s abortion law:

The death of a woman who was 17 weeks pregnant is the subject of two investigations at University Hospital Galway in the Republic of Ireland.

Savita Halappanavar’s family said she asked several times for her pregnancy to be terminated because she had severe back pain and was miscarrying.

Her family claimed it was refused because there was a foetal heartbeat. She died on 28 October.

An autopsy carried out two days later found she had died from septicaemia.

Ms Halappanavar, who was 31, was a dentist.

Her husband, Praveen, told the Irish Times that medical staff said his wife could not have an abortion because Ireland was a Catholic country and the foetus was still alive.

Abortion is illegal in the Republic except where there is a real and substantial risk to the life, as distinct from the health, of the mother.

The Irish government in January established a 14-member expert group to make recommendations based on a 2010 European Court of Human Rights judgment that the state failed to implement existing rights to lawful abortion where a mother’s life was at risk.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health said that the group was due to report back to the Minister for Health James Reilly shortly.

The Irish Times has more details:

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”.

“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.

The article goes on to describe, in detail, the agony that this poor woman was put through.

I would imagine that the greater concern, for some, will be that as a Hindu she did not die “in a state of grace”.