Hindu Woman in Ireland Denied Emergency Abortion, Dies

“This is a Catholic barbaric country.”

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.

At which point, it was too late to save her life.

“Let’s make this clear,” Echidne writes:

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.

And continuing:

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?

Takeaway lesson for women everywhere: Do not get pregnant in Ireland. And if already pregnant, do not enter Ireland. It’s a potential death sentence if you do.

Update (by SH):  This case has sparked a firestorm of debate in Ireland, after the Irish prime minister Enda Kenny publicly refused to commit to abortion reforms in the wake of the tragedy.

There is growing backlash against the Irish government following Ms  Halappanavar’s death, with protests outside the Dail parliament planned for  later this evening.

Earlier this year, members of the Dáil Éireann (TDs), the lower house,  rejected a bill which would have introduced new laws to allow an abortion in  specific life-threatening circumstances.

Left-wing TD Clare Daly criticised the hospital’s apparent refusal to grant  the woman an abortion.

‘A woman has died because Galway University Hospital refused to perform an  abortion needed to prevent serious risk to her life,’ she said.

‘This is a situation we were told would never arise. An unviable foetus – the  woman was having a miscarriage – was given priority over the woman’s life, who  unfortunately and predictably developed septicaemia and died.’

Americans are told much the same thing by rightwing pro-lifers.

8 comments to Hindu Woman in Ireland Denied Emergency Abortion, Dies

  • adrena

    Ireland should change ‘abortion law’ after woman’s death.

    Guardian, By Henry McDonald

    The case of a woman denied an abortion at an Irish hospital who later died of blood poisoning must prompt the state to loosen its almost total ban on terminations, a member of one of the coalition parties in Dublin has said.

    Two investigations – one by Ireland’s health executive, the other by the hospital – are now under way into the circumstances of the death of the 31-year-old dentist at University Hospital Galway (UHG) who was denied a medical termination and allegedly told: “This is a Catholic country.”

    Savita Halappanavar’s death has highlighted how the ban even can prevent women with life-threatening medical conditions getting an abortion in Irish hospitals.

    She had turned up at UHG on 21 October and was found to be miscarrying but died of septicaemia a week later. She had asked medical staff several times over a three-day period to terminate the pregnancy.

    An Irish Labour deputy in the Dáil, Patrick Nulty, said that in light of Halappanavar’s death there was “pressing and urgent need” for parliament to “show responsibility and legislate”, calling on his party and its Fine Gael partners to press ahead with reforming the abortion law.

    It is understood her family is now considering taking legal action, arguing that the foetus should have been removed earlier to save the woman’s life.

    More at the link

  • adrena

    Thousands of Irish rally after woman denied abortion dies.

    Globe & Mail (via Reuters), By Conor Humphries, November 15

    Thousands of people rallied outside Ireland’s parliament on Wednesday to demand strict abortion rules be eased after a pregnant Indian woman repeatedly denied a termination died in an Irish hospital.

    More at the link

  • Raja

    What happens to women denied abortions? This is the first scientific study to find out.

    io9, By Annalee Newitz, November 13

    Abortion is a hotly debated and poorly studied medical procedure. There are a few studies of dubious validity that connect abortion to mental illness and drug use. Politicians have used these studies to justify greater limitations on women seeking abortion in the United States.

    There has been no sustained effort to study what happens to women who want abortions but can’t get them due to restrictive rules. Until now. These women are called turnaways. A new longitudinal study reveals what happens to their economic position, health, and relationship status after seeking an abortion and being denied it.

    Public health researchers with the UC San Francisco group Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH) used data from 956 women who sought abortions at 30 different abortion clinics around the U.S. 182 of them were turned away. The researchers, led by Diana Greene Foster, followed and did intensive interviews with these women, who ran the gamut of abortion experiences. Some obtained abortions easily, for some it was a struggle to get them, and some were denied abortions because their pregnancies had lasted a few days beyond the gestational limits of their local clinics. Two weeks ago, the research group presented what they’d learned after two years of the planned five-year, longitudinal “Turnaway Study” at the recent American Public Health Association conference in San Francisco.

    Here’s the short version of what they discovered, from a post they made on the Global Turnaway Study Facebook page:

    We have found that there are no mental health consequences of abortion compared to carrying an unwanted pregnancy to term. There are other interesting findings: even later abortion is safer than childbirth and women who carried an unwanted pregnancy to term are three times more likely than women who receive an abortion to be below the poverty level two years later.

    Via The Nation: Justice for Savita, By Jessica Valenti
    Also at The Nation: When ‘Pro-Life’ Kills, By Katha Politt

  • Raja

    Symphysiotomy survivors gather to recount stories of torture

    “Put fifty of us in a room and you’ll get different stories but the same ending. We are all cripples.”

    The Journal.ie, November 14

    IF YOU WERE wandering around Smithfield yesterday morning, you would be forgiven for thinking a Coffee and Cake morning had stumbled into the city centre.

    But the women who gathered – eating scones and drinking tea – at the Lighthouse Cinema do not have the local parish in common. It is something much more sinister.

    One 86-year-old woman, Rita McCann noted, “I came on the Luas and I didn’t know if the cinema was on this side or the other. Then I spotted two women and said, ‘I’m sure they are heading for it’. When you see the limps going you get the message.”

    The limp is a common ailment in women who have suffered through symphysiotomies, a painful surgical procedure used in maternity hospitals across Ireland in the 20th century. Other problems include chronic back pain and incontinence.

    Often performed in the place of the more commonplace Caesarean section, symphysiotomies involved breaking the woman’s pelvis during childbirth. The Survivors of Symphysiotomy (SOS) group claims that the operations were carried out without prior knowledge or consent “mainly for religious reasons, by obstetricians who were opposed to family planning.”

    Related: Interview: ‘I didn’t know if my baby was dead or alive for two days’
    Also, Jezebel: Irish Doctors Used to Break Women’s Pelvises So They Wouldn’t Miscarry


    UPDATE (Irish Times):
    Symphysiotomy injustice requires lifting of legal bar

    They viewed symphysiotomy (wrongly) as a gateway to childbearing without limitation, seeing Caesarean section – the norm for difficult births – as morally hazardous, capping family size and leading to sterilisation and contraception. Symphysiotomy was promoted as permanently widening the pelvis, enabling an unlimited number of vaginal deliveries, whereas four C-sections was widely regarded as the maximum for safety.

    Symphysiotomy survivors attend documentary screening
    Symphysiotomy should never have been carried out, Supreme Court finds
    First draft of Walsh report criticised
    Survivors reject symphysiotomy report


    Update 2:
    Politico.ie: The Catholic ethos and the scandal of symphysiotomy

    Judgment in the case (Kearney v McQuillan and another) was delivered by Sean Ryan, a judge of the High Court, on 23 March and he recorded the submission made on behalf of the defence: “This body of opinion [influenced by the Catholic ethos] was anti-caesarean section.

    “The reason for that was apparently that a woman could only be expected to undergo a relatively limited number of operations, and it was assumed that she would probably need to have quite a few of them because it was anticipated that a woman is going to have a lot of children.

    “If doctors were to perform caesarean sections more or less as required, there would come a point at which they would have to advise a woman that she should not have any more children and that would lead to the consequence that she might be tempted to use artificial contraception or she might even look for sterilisation or some other means of preventing a pregnancy.

    “This consideration or these thoughts were sufficient to justify the doctors’ hostility to caesarean section. This led them to be favourable to symphysiotomy, which facilitated future pregnancies as to delivery of babies.”

    It just seems that this Catholic ethos encouraged the practice of symphysiotomy, which ravaged the bodies of hundreds of Irish women and devastated their lives, justified by the discouragement of the abomination of artificial contraception.

    • adrena

      Oh my fucking God. A Symphysiotomy??? I never heard of it.

      These poor women should band together, go to Rome and stick the Pope’s staff up his arse until his pelvis breaks.

      Give these Catholic barbarian bastards a taste of their own medicine.

  • Raja

    Ireland abortion row: India summons Irish envoy

    The Hindu, November 16

    New Delhi – Mounting public outrage over the death of an Indian woman after being refused an abortion by doctors in Ireland compelled the Foreign Office to summon the Irish envoy and put across the “concern and angst in Indian society about the untimely and tragic death.”

    External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid expressed some of the outrage felt in the country by telling newspersons, “Saving the life of the mother is of prime importance, if you can’t save the life of the child.’’

    M. Ganapathi, Secretary (West) in the External Affairs ministry summoned Irish Ambassador Feilim McLaughlin on Friday and hoped the inquiry into the incident would be independent.

  • Raja

    Galway Pro-choice statement re the death of Savita Praveen

    For Release: Woman Dies in UCHG after Being Denied a Life-Saving Abortion

    On Sunday the 28th of October, Savita Praveen died at UCHG after being denied a termination which would most likely have saved her life. She was 31 years old, married for four years and hoping to start a family.

    If legislation is not introduced immediately, more women will die. Under the X Case ruling, women in Ireland are legally entitled to an abortion when it is necessary to save their life. However, legislation has never been passed to reflect this. It is the failure of successive governments to do so that led to Savita’s death.

    Via Crooked Timber: Savita Halappanavar and the Long Shadow of the X-Case

    More here: Winning, Losing

  • adrena

    To think that pre-patriarchy there was a divine feminine image called Sheila-na-Gig, the Goddess of fertility in British-Celtic mythology – vulvas were carved on stone thresholds at sacred sites in her honor. Worshippers reverently touched the carving of her yawning vulva when entering the temple for worship.

    She’s not only a goddess of birth and creation, but also a guardian who wards off evil spirits.

    Many or these images were destroyed and knowledge of their existence censored and/or ignored by patriarchal evolutionary psychologists as it contradicts the preferred, manufactured narrative.

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