Woman dies after being refused medically necessary abortion

“This is a Catholic country” was what Irish doctors told Savita Halappanavar after she learned she was miscarrying her pregnancy and asked for an abortion to avoid further complications. She spent three days in agonizing pain, eventually shaking, vomiting and passing out. She again asked for an abortion and was refused, because the fetus still had a heartbeat.

Then she died.

She died of septicaemia and E.Coli. She died after three and a half days of excruciating pain. She died after repeatedly begging for an end to the pregnancy that was poisoning her. Her death would have been avoided if she had been given an abortion when she asked for it — when it was clear she was miscarrying, and that non-intervention would put her at risk. But the fetus, which had no chance of survival, still had a heartbeat. Its right to life quite literally trumped hers.

U.S. politicians and “pro-life” advocates like Joe Walsh will tell you that there are no circumstances under which women need abortions to avoid death or injury. The Republican platform doesn’t include an exception for medically necessary abortion. And the Republican party is trying to put laws similar to those in Ireland on the books in the United States — laws that would allow emergency room doctors to refuse to perform abortions, even in cases where the pregnant woman’s life or health depends on terminating the pregnancy. The GOP isn’t exactly the most science-friendly or fact-reliant crowd in the world, but to them, women like Savita either don’t exist or just don’t matter. As Jodi at RH Reality Check writes:

These are the lives of your sister, your mother, your daughter, your aunt, your friends, and your colleagues. These are the lives at stake. These are the very people that the fanatical anti-choice and religious right see as “not people.”

They are all Savita Halappanavar.

We are all Savita Halappanavar.

But we do not have to die at the hands of misogynists.

In honor of Savita Halappanavar; in honor of the nearly 22 million women worldwide each year who endure unsafe aborton; in honor of the 47,000 women per year worldwide who die from complications of unsafe abortion and the estimated 10 times that number who suffer long-term health consequences; in honor of the millions of women who do not have access to contraception, who have no control over whether and with whom they have sex or and whether or with whom they have children, we can fight back. In honor of the young girls married young and the women forced to bear children long past the point they are able to care for more… for all these women, we must continue to act, to liberalize abortion laws, ensure every woman has access, remove the stigma, and trust women, like Savita, who know when it is time to end even the most wanted pregnancy.

Just two months ago, a consortium of Irish doctors got together to declare abortion medically unnecessary. They claimed that abortion is never needed to save a pregnant woman’s life, and stated, “We confirm that the prohibition of abortion does not affect, in any way, the availability of optimal care to pregnant women.”

I’m pretty sure Savita Halappanavar would disagree. I’m pretty sure she didn’t get optimal care.

203 comments for “Woman dies after being refused medically necessary abortion

  1. James
    November 13, 2012 at 11:42 pm

    I would like to hope her family and friends have some legal recourse against those monsters. I can’t believe it’s legal to torture and then let a woman die like that over some trumped up pseudo-religious bullshit.

    • 10G
      November 14, 2012 at 9:12 am

      What James said. I got nothin’ else…printable, that is.

  2. EG
    November 13, 2012 at 11:45 pm


  3. yes
    November 14, 2012 at 12:00 am

    That’s… so many kinds of disgusting and evil.

  4. DonnaL
    November 14, 2012 at 12:09 am

    This is unbelievably awful. Evil is a good word for what happened to Savita Halappanavar.

    • SunlessNick
      November 14, 2012 at 1:17 pm

      Pretty much the only word for it.

  5. Bagelsan
    November 14, 2012 at 12:13 am

    Died in agony over the course of three days? Huh, I guess the bitch didn’t pray to “God” hard enough.

  6. DonnaL
    November 14, 2012 at 12:32 am

    The link in the first line of the post doesn’t work for me; here are links to a couple other stories.



    What makes the situation even more repulsive (if that’s possible) is that in 2010 the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Ireland was required to implement laws making it possible for women to have abortions when their lives are at risk. The Irish government has failed to do so. The whole lot of them are guilty, so far as I”m concerned.

  7. Echo Zen
    November 14, 2012 at 1:03 am

    I hope to HELL her partner, Praveen Halappanavar, has grounds to file charges of some sort against the sick monsters who tortured and murdered this woman. And this is why, even without a functioning uterus, I feel an overwhelming obligation to fight such laws from ever coming to the States — the lives of my loved ones literally depend on it.

  8. November 14, 2012 at 1:37 am

    Awful. What a contemptible, inexcuseable waste of a life. An *actual life.

    As an aside, though, I really hate this construction, from the original article:

    They are all Savita Halappanavar.

    We are all Savita Halappanavar.

    It’s completely possible to empathize with someone without literally appropriating their identity and engaging in the fallacy of a false universalism. I am certainly *not* Savita Halappanavar. She was a singular person, unique and irreplaceable, which is what makes the throwing away of her life so tragic and awful. My experiences do not supplant hers and hers do not supplant mine. Her oppressions are not mine; mine are not hers. My privileges are not hers; hers are not mine. We can have overlapping experiences without me or anyone else tokenizing and reducing her identity into a slogan. It’s disrespectful, especially to a woman of colour (which I assuming based on her name that she is – I apologize if I am mistaken), because women of colour’s lives and experiences are so often appropriated as symbols while their real identities are discarded and forgotten.

    • DonnaL
      November 14, 2012 at 2:16 am

      According to the articles, she and her husband were from India.

      • November 14, 2012 at 2:21 am

        Thanks. :) The Reality Check article wasn’t loading for me and I didn’t see your links at first.

        Reading those articles makes me physically ill. I hope those doctors (as well as the implicated politicians and policymakers and the whole community) are wracked with guilt over the consequences of *their* choice to kill a mother for the sake of a dying foetus.

      • yes
        November 14, 2012 at 4:56 am

        I feel like the same beliefs that let them do this to her will supply them with smug aphorisms about their actions being brave and morally upright.

      • EG
        November 14, 2012 at 7:36 am

        Wracked with guilt? The hell with that. I want them to lose their licenses and do years and years in jail. Failing that, I want Halappanavar’s family to hire a hit man.

        I don’t like the construction either, but I do think the point needs to be made that this is how little they value our lives. Not “just” her life, but all of our lives. This poor woman would have been better off getting on a boat to England than going to the hospital for medical care. They’d let us suffer agonies for three days and then die rather safely perform an abortion on a fetus that was being miscarried anyway. And they’d feel righteous about it.

      • 10G
        November 14, 2012 at 9:21 am

        Hire a hitman? No need, I’ll do it for FREE. Better yet, let a female member of her family do it, while tying each and every person responsible for this woman’s death naked to a pole. No last “fag”, either (sorry…channeled “Angela’s ashes” there for a moment). Let them sit for three days in their own waste before doing so. Their actions are despicable, and there needs to be an EXTREMELY STRONG measure of justice taken. I know I’m typically the violent one here, but…this is horrific. Send them Charles Manson and have them deal with him till he croaks.

    • November 15, 2012 at 8:33 pm

      Why shouldn’t I identify with her? The identification is quite understandable to me as a woman who endured an excruciatingly painful miscarriage. I feared for my life. So I totally identify with this woman. She could easily have been saved, and a bunch of ghouls stood around and watched her die.
      Nobody but my husband gave a fig for me when I got into that situation, much as nobody but her husband cared about her. How many women are allowed to perish in hospitals with personnel completely off the hook about it?
      If her husband had not publicized this, we would never have heard about it.

      • November 17, 2012 at 1:52 am

        I never said no one could or should identify with her experiences. There is a difference between that and *appropriating* her identity – turning her into a symbolic mask for other people to wear instead of respecting that as much as *some* of us may identify with her and share similar experiences, it’s ridiculous to suggest that her life is universal. And, as I said, I can both sympathize and empathize with Savita without needing to tokenize her and claim experiences that I *don’t* have a hope in hell of understanding, because her life was unique.

        I certainly never suggested it shouldn’t be publicized – I wouldn’t EVER make that argument and am peeved that you even suggested it, actually, given how offensive I find the notion. I think you are misreading my comment in favour of positions you already disagree with.

  9. matlun
    November 14, 2012 at 2:53 am

    That is just horrible.

    Even if you see the death due to infection as an “accident” (actually due to the doctors callously gambling with her life and health), her prolonged suffering over three days – while they were waiting for the doomed fetus to finally die – was actually planned. This is what is seen as appropriate care in Ireland? If she had not actually died, this would have been seen as acceptable?

  10. matlun
    November 14, 2012 at 3:02 am

    Just two months ago, a consortium of Irish doctors got together to declare abortion medically unnecessary

    Is it just me or are they just doing semantic handwaving here?

    The approach appears to be “…treatment for conditions such as ectopic pregnancy are not considered abortion…”. In other words: They redefine “abortion” to exclude all cases where it is medically necessary. So the statement “abortion is medically unnecessary” becomes tautologically true.

    • tlfk
      November 15, 2012 at 8:10 am

      This comment helps explains the arguments being used on another blog by an anti-choice commenter – she was adamant that there was nothing wrong with the law as it was written, and abortion had nothing to with this incident, b/c it wasn’t actually an abortion (this was all just about medical negligence and had NOTHING to do with anti-abortion laws or attitudes, so us pro-choice people can stop our squawking, apparently). But, yes, you can get around the argument by changing the definition of the word abortion. She kept referring to it as “treatment”, like these docs. It’s a splitting hairs technique used to try to win a losing argument.

      • Kristen from MA
        November 15, 2012 at 2:37 pm

        Well, that’s how Rick Santorum justifies his wife’s abortion. They didn’t actually abort per se, they just induced labor. Except that at 20 weeks, the fetus was not viable, so they were in fact terminating the pregnancy. Orwellian twisting of words to justify the same ‘treatment’ they would deny you and me.

  11. November 14, 2012 at 5:50 am

    This is so incredibly heartbreaking. How can someone let a woman die in order to preserve… ulg, there’s just nothing.

    Until people start respecting all life instead of trying to control women’s bodies, this is just going to keep happening and they’re just going to keep denying it.

  12. Lolagirl
    November 14, 2012 at 8:24 am

    There is so much about this story that doesn’t make sense, even from a medical perspective. For example, the fact that she was fully dilated and actively leaking amniotic fluid should have at minimum led to these treating physicians to administer prophylactic antibiotics. Because that alone increases the risk for infection significantly. Standard of care (at least here in the U.S.) further cautions against letting a pregnant patient continue to remain in that condition for more than 24 hours because of the increased risk of sepsis.

    Ms. Halappanavar’s death was absolutely foreseeable and completely preventable. The fact that these professionals did nothing, did not begin prophylactic antibiotics and did not either induce Ms. Halappanavar or deliver her by c-section indicates that they put absolutely no value on preserving her life or health. It’s utterly unconscionable that they let her die instead of doing more to help her.

    • EG
      November 14, 2012 at 8:35 am

      that they put absolutely no value on preserving her life or health.

      And I can’t help but wonder if that has anything to do with the fact that she was Indian, and not one of “theirs.”

      • Lolagirl
        November 14, 2012 at 9:13 am

        I admit that thought occurred to me as well, EG.

        And it isn’t as though Ireland does not have the technological resources to have helped this patient. They just didn’t, because their bs religious nonsense and apparent callousness to her plight. It’s just horrifying.

      • 10G
        November 14, 2012 at 9:23 am

        Good point, EG, but I can’t help but think that they’d have refused even one of “their own” in such circumstances. I don’t even know how these people live with themselves.

      • Lolagirl
        November 14, 2012 at 9:37 am

        I keep going back to the fact that they didn’t even do the minimum to preserve this women’s health, even if they were attempting to preserve the pregnancy. Because if they wanted to actually preserve the vessel sufficiently to preserve the pregancy why not give prophylactic antibiotics? Why not attempt a trial at tocolytics to slow the progression of labor? Why not infuse her with fluids to keep her stable?

        The inevitable truth is that these treating medical professionals knew that it was hopeless and that there was no way to stop the miscarriage from happening. But then, in the meanwhile, they just stood there with their hands at their collective sides and did nothing to help Ms. Halappanavar in any appreciable manner.

      • Kathleen
        November 14, 2012 at 1:22 pm

        I think the fact that she was Indian in Ireland has a *lot* to do with it. These kinds of deaths would happen a lot more often if medical professionals didn’t find ways to bend the official rules… that somehow everyone became sticklers when a brown skinned foreigner was involved, and suffering right in front of them, just shows what a lot of hypocrisy all the god-talk around the abortion issue is.

      • SamBarge
        November 18, 2012 at 7:39 pm

        That’s exactly how I read the “this is a Catholic country” statement; as a racist slur against the “brown” people not from Ireland.

    • November 14, 2012 at 9:54 am

      Lola, my understanding is that they did eventually administer some antibiotics — after she was so ill she was shaking and passed out. That’s what I got from the RH Reality Check story, anyway.

      • Lolagirl
        November 14, 2012 at 10:09 am

        Yes, but they only waited until after she was showing signs of infection and then began a course of antibiotics.

        The problem with this approach is that it waits too long to administer antibiotics in the best manner. I used the term prophylactic antibiotics on purpose, because once Ms. Halappanavar was at 24 hours fully dilated and with a bulging bag of waters she was officially at a significantly increased risk for developing the sepsis that did, in fact, eventually kill her.

        Which is why I pointed out that this outcome would have been absolutely foreseeable to her treating physicians. Why they stood by and did not do more to at the very least prevent her from dying from infection is inexplicable.

      • Lolagirl
        November 14, 2012 at 10:16 am

        Sorry, I meant to type leaking bag of waters. Which increases the risk of infection even moreseo than if the bag of waters was sitting at the open cervix and bulging. Once there is an open path into the uterus via an open cervix and ruptured membranes the risk of infection is greatly increased.

      • November 14, 2012 at 10:31 am

        Right, exactly. Sorry if I’m unclear — I’m agreeing with you! They waited until she was shaking and dying on the floor before even giving antibiotics that should have been routine. And obviously they should have removed the fetus, since sepsis is a known serious risk in a miscarriage that doesn’t fully exit the body. It’s disgusting.

      • Lolagirl
        November 14, 2012 at 11:19 am

        Yeah, I knew we were sort of talking across one another there. Sorry if I seemed argumentative, Jill, I’m arguing the circumstances, not your position or pov.

        What’s really horrible is that it seems as though the people who treated Ms. Halappanavar ultimately took the position “only God can decide” and thus did nothing to step in and help her. But that isn’t what medical professionals are supposed to do. There is a whole lot they could have done medically to help Ms. Halappanavar, even if and only for the sake of discussion if their goal was to try and save the fetus. Standing by and waiting for God’s will to decide the outcome is not the proper practice of medicine.

        The epic level of medical fuckuppery in this case huge. It’s like they saw malpractice on the horizon and decided to sprint right on past it on their way to find the place where religious purity lives.

      • November 14, 2012 at 11:20 am

        No no not at all! It’s hard to read a case like this and not just scream expletives.

      • Partial Human
        November 14, 2012 at 2:13 pm

        Well we can’t have the risk of antibiotics affecting the foetus now, can we?

        I can virtually guarantee that argument would have been made. It makes me want to vomit.

        Fuck the Irish medical system, fuck the RCC, and double-fuck the pope.

      • Bagelsan
        November 14, 2012 at 2:53 pm

        Triple fuck the pope. If there’s a hell, he belongs in it.

  13. Eve
    November 14, 2012 at 9:35 am

    I’m Irish (and pro-choice—let me just point out that not every Irishperson is anti-choice, and that in fact a majority of Irish people are in favour of allowing abortion. We’re not all evil-Catholic-reactionaries), and so I’m pretty familiar with the legal background here. It’s not that there are laws on the books which forbid abortion in Ireland—it’s that there’s no real legislation at all dating from anytime after the 1850s, because our (centre-right) politicians have historically refused to legislate for it. It exists in a legal grey area.

    We do have an amendment to the constitution, dating from the early 80s, which says the unborn have a right to life, but there’s also a judicial precedent which says that abortion is permissible in case of a threat to the life of the mother, that women have the right to travel to the UK for an abortion, and that women have the right to receive information about where to get an abortion. This latter has been established since the early 90s but no government will actually codify it—hence why the EU ordered it last year. (And that was in response to Irish women going to the EU Court and fighting for our rights, not the EU chastising a uniformly stubborn Irish population.)

    Dr Halappanavar should legally have been able to receive a termination at NUIG, but the body which grants doctors licenses to practice in Ireland will revoke licenses if they ever should perform even a legal termination. So in answer to the above statement—no, I don’t think they refused to carry out the termination because they were racist (though sadly we have a lot of that in Ireland), but because they were scared of being stripped of their right to practice. A different kind of moral cowardice, if that’s any better.

    That link in the main post to the write-up of the anti-choice medical symposium is also somewhat misleading—it was an international symposium held in Ireland (so it’s not clear how many people there were actually Irish doctors in sympathy with those views), and some digging shows that it was fronted by people who are members of Youth Defence. YD is a well-known far right Christian group, and not representative of the opinions of most Irish people. This would be like if I came along and wrote an article which pointed to Focus on the Family as representative of all US Christians, or PETA as representative of all vegetarians.

    There’s no one I’ve spoken to about this (admittedly, all women so far) who’s not been horrified and outraged by this. This is something many of us are working to try to change. Please work with us rather than trying to tar us all with the same brush.

    • November 14, 2012 at 9:51 am

      Oh totally. Eve, apologies if the post implied that all Irish people are hostile to abortion rights. I’ve actually been to Dublin specifically to speak about reproductive rights, and came across many thoughtful pro-choice folks. But like the U.S., much of Irish law on abortion is governed by right-wing men who don’t seem to care much for the lives and health of women.

      • Eve
        November 14, 2012 at 10:17 am

        Thank you. Probably I’m just being over-sensitive, but (living as I do now in the States) I frequently encounter people who think that all of Ireland is rabidly right-wing and that we still live in thatched cottages and think of electricity as a new innovation.

        I think our major issue is the fact that Irish politics is run on an old-boy network. Our current Dáil has the highest proportion of women members ever, and that’s still just 15%. This means we end up in a situation where most TDs don’t have to openly work against abortion rights—they’re never even mentioned as an issue, most of the time.

      • Rhoanna
        November 14, 2012 at 2:56 pm

        But like the U.S., much of Irish law on abortion is governed by right-wing men who don’t seem to care much for the lives and health of women.

        Um, it’s not really like the U.S., given that the U.S. has significantly more liberal abortion laws (namely, elective abortion). Now, something like Irish law might be what some of the right-wing in the US aspires to, but it’s not what we have.

    • Rachel W.
      November 14, 2012 at 10:17 am

      Eve, if there is a pro-choice majority in Ireland right now, what would need to happen to change the law?

      • Eve
        November 14, 2012 at 10:28 am

        Ireland’s a multi-party democracy, but in practice government has historically been the preserve of one of two parties, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael (both of which are centre-right; the differences between them lie only in which side of the Civil War they were on). Neither of them have ever seemed to have the interest or the will to legislate on one side of the issue or the other, even about judicial decisions which have already been passed by our Supreme Court. As I said above, this is probably in large part down to the fact that the number of women present in Irish politics is embarrassingly low.

        If I understand the law correctly, we’d probably need a national constitutional referendum in order to make abortion fully legal and accessible in Ireland. I’d imagine that, depending on how it was framed (because it’s a majority, but a slim majority, and the percentage of those in favour of abortion rights declines dramatically amongst the older population who are of course the people who vote most often), it would pass. Nor do I think our president would veto it (as he’s constitutionally allowed to do), because he’s a self-described feminist and is on the political left—we’d just need the legislative will to actually put it forward. Perhaps the currently ongoing backlash will make it possible.

    • November 14, 2012 at 10:55 am

      Hi, Eve. I also got carried away a bit with my “whole community” comment, which is terribly because I know some fine Irish feminists and I’m totally aware that not everyone would support this (or that my own country doesn’t have its share of anti-choice assholes). I apologize for that.

      I still think the racism plausibly plays into it, especially as you say there is a lot of it – they might have been more willing to risk their medical licenses for a white woman born in the country.

      • Eve
        November 14, 2012 at 11:05 am

        Thank you! And yes, I suppose I should say that their decision wasn’t necessarily the result of racism, rather than ruling it out entirely as a contributing factor. I have heard (though this was local rumour rather than a verifiable news story) about doctors waiting as long as possible to perform a D&C on a white Irish woman for an ectopic pregnancy because of similar concerns about their license, so I think it’s a probably a complex and shifting mix of misogyny and racism.

      • November 14, 2012 at 11:55 am

        Thanks for changing your phrasing. I was just about to get really fucking ragey at you for ignoring Indian-Irish history, but you did post this, so.

        Also, as scatx posted this on Shakesville and hit it out of the park:

        “The “this is a Catholic country” line has been bothering me a lot. It’s fundamentally different than, “it’s against the law.” And it strikes me that it was said to an Indian couple while they were begging for life-saving medical care for her. “This is a Catholic country” is such an easy and condescending way to convey “You are foreign. We are more moral than you.” “

      • Eve
        November 14, 2012 at 12:19 pm

        (I can’t seem to reply to this comment directly, so I’ll reply to my own comment here and hope you see it!)

        You would have been entirely correct to call me out for my previous phrasing! My apologies. Though I will confess to not being sure what you mean by “Indian-Irish history”—do you mean the existence of discrimination by white (Irish) against non-white (Irish) people in general, or is there a specific incident here that I’m just ignorant of? (Which is entirely possible.)

        And yes, while my first reading of the “This is a Catholic country” line made me think it was a clumsy way of explaining why the doctor’s hands were tied, there may well have been a racialised/moralising component to it. That’s certainly (sadly) true.

      • November 14, 2012 at 12:25 pm

        Lol…the whole serial-replying is the only way to handle it once the nesting breaks down, as far as any of us can tell.

        Though I will confess to not being sure what you mean by “Indian-Irish history”

        India does, in fact, have a history of being colonised by Irish people, though the Irish there were often also colonised (in the way I think of it? If you disagree, I’ll bow to your experience, of course) by the English/UK. So there’s this element of… lateral violence? Sort of? between the Irish and India, at least historically. I know that the colonialist relationship between the UK/India shapes the way Indians experience racism in the UK, and assumed it would be somewhat the same at least in Ireland.

      • Eve
        November 14, 2012 at 12:42 pm

        Oh, gosh, now I get it! Sorry, I probably just haven’t had enough caffeine this morning—I was thinking solely in terms of Indians in Ireland and not of Indian-Irish interactions in other places.

        And you know, I really don’t know in what ways colonialism shapes most Irish people’s thinking about Indians. Without doubt there’s some element of racism/cultural colonialism going on, but because of our complex history with the UK there’s probably also some element of “colonised peoples in solidarity against the British” going on. The Indian population in Ireland is pretty small—15 or 20,000 people? I think somewhere around there—so I don’t know if anyone’s done any kind of in-depth study or exploration of that relationship, academic or otherwise, in the way works been done on other ethnic minorities in Ireland.

        Thank you for your patience with me when I was being clueless/an offensive idiot—you didn’t have to do that, and I’m grateful.

      • November 14, 2012 at 7:59 pm

        Eve, don’t worry about it! I’m usually pretty glad to inform, if I can at all, and you seemed sincere and open-minded, so it was really nice. ^__^ Just be nice to me when I’m the one being silly next time, lol.

    • Sorcha
      November 14, 2012 at 11:33 am

      Just a minor clarification, Eve, there is anti-abortion legislation in Ireland dating from 1861 (The Offences Against the Person Act), which prohibits the intent to procure, the procurement of and performance of a “miscarriage” (i.e. applies to pregnant women and anyone who performs a termination). This Act is still applicable in Ireland but the later Constitutional prohibition on abortion (1983) is a far greater impediment to abortion law reform in Ireland. Despite the fact that a majority of doctors (http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2011/1125/1224308110256.html) and Irish people (http://www.irishexaminer.com/home/survey-60-in-favour-of-legal-abortion-110224.html) are in favour of more liberal abortion laws, liberalisation of abortion law would require a referendum and that might not turn out the way polls indicate (we have a very active and organised pro-life lobby).

      The Constitution (Article 40.3.3) has *alway* allowed for terminations in cases where the woman’s life is at risk. The A, B, C case that went to the EU resulted in a recommendation that the Irish government implement legislation to facilitate access to *already* legal abortions.

      It seems very clear that the Savita Halappanavar was entitled to an abortion because her life was at risk. The health care professionals at UCHG did not have legal grounds to refuse a termination (once it was clear that the miscarriage was problematic), and in failing to treat her in a medically appropriate way (removal of foetal tissue and treatment of infection sites), they failed in their duty of care. The law is not on their side. The absence of legislation to guide provision of terminations in cases like this is a major contributory factor however, and in that sense, the Irish government failed Savita as well. Shame on us.

      As for the race/immigrant status question – I think the ever-so-subtle “this is a Catholic country” sends a fairly xenophobic/racist message but I’m not at all sure that this couldn’t happen to a white Irish woman. (There is no documented evidence of any woman receiving a medical termination on the grounds of risk to life – it could have happened but the Government and the health service don’t maintain any records of it. And certainly there are cases of women who have had to travel to the UK for a termination in cases where there was a risk to their life, e.g. C in the ABC case).

      • Eve
        November 14, 2012 at 12:06 pm

        Thank you—my memory failed me, and I thought the act was from 1851, not 1861.

  14. Athenia
    November 14, 2012 at 10:05 am

    Urgh, whenever I read this story, I keeping thinking about how her race and immigration status may have affected her care.

  15. November 14, 2012 at 10:07 am

    Fucking hell, this is evil. Just…evil.

    Unrelated, but does anyone else here have Ireland on their list of “no-go” places? Because between being married to another woman, not-white, female and not Christian, I’m kind of terrified of going there and frankly skeeved out at the idea of giving my money to the country.

    On a tangent, though…It’s funny how people always nod sagely when I mention countries from the global south as being on my no-go list even when they don’t really know anything about that country, but get all wide-eyed and shocked when I mention any of the European countries on the list…

    • Eve
      November 14, 2012 at 10:41 am

      Do you have any specific reasons (beyond this horrific example of course, which I would never even begin to try to defend) as to why you wouldn’t want to visit Ireland? I can’t promise you that you wouldn’t encounter racism if you visited, because I couldn’t promise you that about any Western country, but we’re not a wholly backwards backwater, either. Our non-white population is small (about 5% nationally, though probably a greater percentage in urban areas) but growing, and while there is undeniably discrimination, we also have an Indian-Irish member of the Dáil (parliament), our Minister for Justice is Jewish, the mayor of my small rural hometown is an immigrant from Nigeria, my senator is an out gay man… My hometown opened its first mosque last year, and when my youngest cousin started school this year, easily 1/5 of the students in her class were Asian-Irish or Black-Irish.

      We’ve also had recognised same-sex civil unions as of 2010, and the government is currently working on legislation which would legalise same-sex marriage and grant adoption rights to same-sex couples, since 75% of the population is in favour of it. I think that puts us ahead of even the most progressive national poll on marriage equality in the States.

      We have our assholes just like any country, but we’re not all evil—most people are absolutely horrified and disgusted by what happened to Dr Halappanavar.

      • November 14, 2012 at 11:34 am


        I’m wary of anti-Indian sentiment in the UK in particular – I’m Indian, living in Canada atm. It’s not even a matter of the racism I’d face – fuck knows it’s not like India isn’t racist towards Indians in many ways – it’s the fact that I’m only willing to risk being in so many minorities in any country with high religiosity. I also find it interesting that your go-to comparison is the States, when I’ve never mentioned living there; I think the US currently has one of the shittiest human-rights record of industrialised countries, so it’s not really fair, is it? Also, I make it a point not to travel to countries that ban abortion.

        That said, I don’t think that the Irish are evil or that your country’s made up of assholes; I think Ireland has a traumatised population (in exactly the same way that India has a traumatised population), that the vast majority of the Irish population isn’t really interested in staying traumatised, and consequently that there’s a whole lot of grassroots efforts to heal vs top-down authoritarian insistence on propagating cycles of violence through evil policies like the one that essentially tied those doctors’ hands. I’m not worried about one asshole on the street, I’m worried about institutionalised bullshit like what happened to Dr Halappanavar. As a person with disabilities, I can’t – literally, seriously, can’t – afford to wager my well-being on the goodness of individuals within corrupt systems.

      • Eve
        November 14, 2012 at 12:02 pm

        My apologies for presuming you live in the States, which was partly why I made the comparison; but it was also the one which I drew because most people who frequent this site (at least, it’s been my impression as a mostly-lurker) are US Americans or are familiar with the ongoing social discourse in the US because of its pervasiveness in at least Anglophone conversations online. Either way, there were some assumptions going on on my part and I apologise.

        Thank you for taking the time to explain your position to me; it’s certainly one which I respect. I don’t disagree with you at all about the institutionalised misogyny/racism which exists in Ireland, but I would point out that Ireland is not a part of the UK. I’m also not sure that ‘high religiosity’ is a precisely accurate way of describing Irish society in the last twenty years, given the upheavals we’ve experienced in the wake of the abuse scandals—people thinking of themselves as Catholic in any way now make up only 85% of the Irish population, and of those only 30% practice the religion regularly. We’re becoming increasingly secularised. In the UK, that’s even more strongly the case—only 1/3 people think of themselves as religious. Change is occurring—slow and painful, but it’s happening.

      • November 14, 2012 at 12:13 pm


        I’m aware that Ireland isn’t part of the UK; my thinking there was more of the kind of attitudes that pervade the area in general. They’re not that different where Indians are concerned (a remnant of colonial relationships, imo).

        Also, speaking as an Indian (there’s a very similar situation in India atm, so believe me, I really get where you’re coming from in your defense of Ireland), I really should point out that even if there’s a decrease in the percentage of people who are actively religious, the bystander effect does seem to kick in when it comes to changing religiously charged laws.

        FWIW if it weren’t my country and I didn’t have sentimental ties to it (and it hadn’t recently decriminalised homosexuality) India would be on my no-go list too. As it is, I’m really quite worried about taking my wife there.

      • John
        November 14, 2012 at 5:04 pm

        I have to chip in here and say that your knowledge of racism in the UK seems rather dated. There is really very little now. Racism is mainly directed at black people. Indians have the reputation of being hard working people who tend to mind their own business and are respected.
        There is however a lot of anti-islamic prejudice directed against Pakistanis and Bangladeshis.

      • November 14, 2012 at 7:42 pm

        John… So what you’re saying is “there’s very little racism in the UK.. Just against blacks and Pakistanis and Bangladeshis. But other than that, hardly any!”

        That sounds like there’s still a good amount of racism in the uk.

      • November 14, 2012 at 7:53 pm

        Even assuming you’re not just boop-de-booping along in your happy pink bubble of white privilege, John: and some ignorant racist can magically tell the difference between Indians and Pakistanis how…? Also, “Racist against blacks and Muslims” sounds pretty racist to me…

      • Bagelsan
        November 14, 2012 at 8:13 pm

        Mac, the racists obviously ask before they start hurling slurs, and make sure the person is not Indian first. They aren’t monsters!

      • RoryBorealis
        November 14, 2012 at 7:48 pm

        Shorter John: As long as you’re white, you won’t experience racism in the UK.

        In other mind-blowing news, water in its liquid state is wet.

      • yes
        November 17, 2012 at 1:51 pm

        I get where you’re going about white privilege and invisible minorities and so on, but do you really want to make the statement “As long as you’re white, you won’t experience racism in the UK” in a thread about Ireland?

      • RoryBorealis
        November 20, 2012 at 1:05 am

        Yes, yes. Because John, to whom I was responding, was talking about the UK and not about Ireland.

    • Bagelsan
      November 14, 2012 at 10:49 am

      I hope Uganda’s on your no-go list now, too…


      • November 14, 2012 at 11:27 am

        Bagelsan, Uganda’s been on my no-go list since before I was born: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Expulsion_of_Asians_from_Uganda.

        Also their delightful anti-gay agenda of late, which you’ve pointed out.

      • The Kittehs' Unpaid Help
        December 1, 2012 at 9:22 pm

        Mackavitykitsune, you’d probably need to be wary visiting Australia, too. We have problems with racism, homophobia (not least that our lousy Federal politicians of both major parties ignore the majority wish to bring in marriage equality) and we’re not that great at services and support for people with disabilities. At least the religion thing isn’t a major factor: we’re generally fairly lackadaisical about religion. You might say we’re a good place to visit for the touristy side of things, but not somewhere you’d necessarily want to live.

  16. November 14, 2012 at 10:15 am

    Okay, as an Irish person, I am absolutely fucking appalled that this happened in my country. I used to work as a cashier in UHG and I have visited a number of sick loved ones there over the years. This is horrifically close to home.

    That said, I need to clear a few things up because there seems to be a few misconceptions about Irish abortion law and the hospital staff floating around, especially in that RH Reality Check article.

    Ok, firstly, UHG is not a “Catholic” hospital. There is no such thing as a specifically “Catholic” hospital in Ireland, in the sense that nearly all our hospitals are in some way connected to the church as they started out as abbeys and monasteries that cared for the sick. Calling it a “Catholic” hospital makes it sound like a dedicated religious institution instead of the default avenue of a healthcare for most of the west of the country. Calling it a Catholic hospital undermines the issue, because the issue isn’t just this one hospital or this one doctor, it’s the whole country-wide system!

    Secondly, I don’t anything about the specific doctor who was supposed to be “caring” for Ms. Halappanavar and I have no idea why he would say something as fucking retrograde and irrelevant as “This is a Catholic country” to a dangerously ill patient. BUT, I think it’s important to point out that we are not a nation of fervid Catholics. The majority of people are only nominal Catholics and only practice at Christmas/funerals/weddings/etc. and go through the motions because that’s how they were raised. It is a VERY different landscape from the Christian fundamentalism of the US. There were no evil-Catholic-cackling doctors celebrating a win for pro-life in UHG.

    The problem in Ireland is that Catholicism is pervasive. For so long, it was the only religion of our tiny country and as a result, Catholic ideals have been enshrined in our laws since forever. We have a public referendum on whether to legalize abortion once every ten years or so, and every time it has been rejected.

    As it stands in Ireland, the ONLY case in which abortion is legal is if the life of the mother is at risk, and even when this is clearly the case, doctors have to jump through a lot of legal and bureaucratic hoops to justify terminating the pregnancy. This was very clearly the case for the Halappanavars, combined with a completely incompetent and quite possibly racist doctor.

    Ireland’s stance on abortion is a fucking mess. It’s also a joke, because literally thousands of women every year take the quick trip across to the UK to get safe legal abortions. It’s a completely tokenistic law that is only still in place because Catholic mentality is so inextricably tied up in every aspect of Irish society, despite the fact that most people do not feel strongly enough about their religion to even go to mass once a week. Even before this pointless tragedy, the issue has been in the newspapers once again. Youth Defense recently launched a really inadvisable anti-abortion campaign (in a country where it’s already illegal, even in the case of rape) that catapulted the issue back into public consciousness. People have been making noise. I just wish a woman didn’t have to die before it became a matter of public outcry.

    I really hope we have a long hard look at who exactly our insanely antiquated laws are protecting in the wake of this pointless tragedy. I hope the issue goes up for referendum once again. I have to say, it’s been kind of surreal watching the fight for reproductive rights on the American stage, listening to people campaign for better and safer access to abortion, while all the time knowing that option would not be open to me (perhaps not even if I’m dying) in my “Progressive First World Country.”

    • EG
      November 14, 2012 at 10:35 am

      I have no idea why he would say something as fucking retrograde and irrelevant as “This is a Catholic country” to a dangerously ill patient.

      Isn’t what you write here why he would say it?

      The problem in Ireland is that Catholicism is pervasive. For so long, it was the only religion of our tiny country and as a result, Catholic ideals have been enshrined in our laws since forever.

      That sounds like a Catholic country to me, whether or not evil Catholic doctors are actually rubbing their hands together in glee and celebrating.

      • Eve
        November 14, 2012 at 10:44 am

        Without trying to speak for tinyorc, I believe they were trying to establish that there’s a difference between thinking of Ireland as a quasi-theocracy and one where most people have a background that’s at least vaguely/culturally Catholic—like the difference between saying that the USA is a Christian country, versus a country in which most people are Christian and most US legislation is the product of a society largely informed by a Christian ethos.

      • EG
        November 14, 2012 at 4:03 pm

        I’m going to have to disagree with you. Due in large part to the appalling racism and anti-Catholicism of the UK, Catholicism became intertwined with Irish identity in a way that did not happen in the US. Here the default assumption is Christianity of one kind of another, but freedom of religion is written into our constitution, and while it is also written into Ireland’s, the 1937 constitution makes a point of particularly mentioning the “special position of the Holy Catholic Apostolic and Roman Church.” The Catholic Church has had a much stronger hold over (public) education, health care, and laws regarding divorce and reproduction than in the US. It’s not the same thing.

      • Eve
        November 14, 2012 at 6:18 pm

        Yes, I’m quite aware of the history of my own country. The 1937 Constitution did indeed have a clause which claimed a special position for the Catholic Church (though it didn’t make it the established religion) and which also stated that the State “also recognises the Church of Ireland, the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, the Methodist Church in Ireland, the Religious Society of Friends in Ireland, as well as the Jewish Congregations and the other religious denominations existing in Ireland.”

        However, the Fifth Amendment to Bunreacht na hÉireann, passed by a landslide in 1973, removed those clauses. It has not been law in Ireland in my lifetime. While it’s certainly true that the Catholic Church has historically had undue influence over the Irish population, the last twenty years or so have seen seismic changes in that relationship. While knowing the history of Article 44 is important for an understanding of Irish society as it exists now, neither culture nor religion in Ireland are static things. I’ve lived through many of those changes, and I’ve also lived in the USA for the past four years—I’ve got a pretty good working knowledge of what it’s like to live as a woman in both countries. (Not to mention that Irish people in general know a lot more about the modern US than you guys do about us, thanks to the global hegemony of the US media.)

        I’m struggling to find a way to finish this comment without coming across as angry or defensive. I’m Irish, a woman, an atheist (though raised Catholic and from a mixed religious background), a leftist, and pro-choice, and I’m angry and disgusted about the situation that resulted in Dr Halappanavar’s death. There are things that are incredibly messed up about my country. My relationship to my identity as an Irish person is complicated. But I think the Irish people in the comments here are articulating a particular understanding of what it is to be Irish now, for my generation, and it’s in many ways being pushed back against by non-Irish commenters. I find that discomfiting.

      • EG
        November 14, 2012 at 8:52 pm

        I think you’re assuming a greater ignorance on my part than is actually accurate; it’s a fair assumption in general for Americans, but I do have an unusually decent working knowledge of Irish history and culture for an American, especially one not of Irish descent, regardless of global cultural hegemony.

        I suspect our main disagreement is in whether or not a cultural change that has taken place over the past 20 years is sufficiently momentous to work as a counterweight to all the years prior to that. I’m not convinced it is. I remember 20 years ago, and that’s not a terribly long time. I hope it extends as long as possible so that it is a counterweight, but your comparison to the US was just not apt. It’s a wildly different relationship to religion historically and today.

        Regardless of your understanding of what it means to be Irish for your generation, this person justified withholding life-saving treatment from Halappanavar by saying “This is a Catholic country.” If neither you nor tinyorc can understand why he/she would say that, that strongly suggests to me that what you’re saying about Irish culture is being contested even within Ireland.

      • Eve
        November 14, 2012 at 9:21 pm

        Yes. Our main disagreement is whether I, as an Irish person (and one who is a historian by day, no less), have a deeper working knowledge about my own culture than you do from the perspective of an outsider.

      • Donna L
        November 14, 2012 at 9:30 pm

        Sometimes it takes being an outsider — specifically, a Jew in a Christian-centric Western world — to see what those inside that particular culture cannot see, or aren’t even conscious of, after 1400 years or so.

      • Donna L
        November 14, 2012 at 9:35 pm

        Leopold Bloom and Robert Briscoe notwithstanding. But this is getting a little off-topic, nu?

      • EG
        November 14, 2012 at 9:45 pm

        OK. As a historian, then, explain to me how 20 years magically outweighs the few hundred that came before it.

        Explain to me why you think this woman was told that she was in a “Catholic country,” and that was why her life wasn’t worth saving, if it’s not that, well, Ireland has a deeply entrenched relationship with the Catholic church that’s actually not like the US’s relationship with any of the number of denominations of Christianity that I can’t be bothered to distinguish among.

        It couldn’t be, according to you, that for most of its history, both free and colonized, that Ireland was, well, a Catholic country. I mean, they took that provision out of the constitution in 1973. That’s almost 40 years ago. Why, it’s obviously completely analogous to the US never having such a thing at all.

        I’m all ears. Explain it to me.

      • Sally
        November 16, 2012 at 1:09 pm

        It would help if people could be respectful when Irish people, especially women whose reproductive rights are directly affected by this legislation, try to articulate their experiences of Irishness.

        It takes a lot of privilege and ignorance to assume that an outsider’s perspective on the cultural nuance of a small postcolonial country is more important than the perspectives of those of us with lived experience.

        This blog, and much of the feminist community online, is dominated by the US and the experiences of American women living under US law. In this one case, please make room for women with direct experience of Irish law to talk about how it affects them.

        Of course I acknowledge that Savita Halappanavar was not Irish or Catholic, and that racism or religious hatred may well have played a part in her treatment. I would never, ever try to explain away the discrimination faced by women of colour here or anywhere, or to try to seal it off from the experience of misogyny.

        I just want to point out the privilege inherent in skewing the discourse toward “lived experience” when that experience pertains to American women, and toward an “outsider’s perspective” when it pertains to women outside America.

      • November 14, 2012 at 4:59 pm

        My point, though I’m possibly making it badly, is that although we are predominantly Catholic country, it is very unusual for someone to actually use Catholicism as the reason for a moral or ethical decision. Unlike the US, where standing up for Christian values plays a huge role in politics, Catholicism in Ireland is characterized by apathy. It’s so institutionalised that we almost forget it’s there. That’s why it struck me as very strange that a doctor (or some member of medical staff, I can’t seem to find who that quote is attributed to specifically) would actually come out and say “Because CATHOLICISM” rather than “Because of the law” or “standard practice” or something. Honestly, I think racism rather than religious fervor was the motivating factor behind that comment. Saying “This is a Catholic country” implies “and you are clearly not Catholic and therefore an outsider.”

        To be clear, even though I was raised Catholic, I rejected the Church a long time ago and I think it’s one of the most disgusting organisations in the world. I think Catholicism has no place in Irish law, in our schools or in our hospitals.

      • EG
        November 14, 2012 at 9:04 pm

        That makes more sense. Thanks for the explanation.

      • cassidy
        December 8, 2012 at 9:42 am

        “Mr Halappanavar has never claimed in any interview that a termination could have saved his wife’s life.”

        Savita story possibly ‘muddled’ – reporter:


        Doubts over Savita’s tragic death: she may not have been denied an abortion:


        We don’t know the full facts and have to wait on two reports.

    • November 14, 2012 at 11:01 am

      The problem in Ireland is that Catholicism is pervasive. For so long, it was the only religion of our tiny country and as a result, Catholic ideals have been enshrined in our laws since forever.

      This is appalling. I’m ethnically Irish myself (second generation, grew up in Canada). All my extended family lives there and I have been there many times since I was a child, so I have seen firsthand how the RCC still holds a firm grip over the minds of the people. I’m angered by this, but yet also not terribly surprised. Also worth mentioning is that it’s only within the last twenty years or so that Ireland made divorce legal (and even then only a bare majority of the country was in favour of it) and homosexuality was decriminalized.

      Here in Canada, the province of Quebec was predominantly catholic and at one time it was very powerful and firmly entrenched. That all changed in the 1960s with the “Quiet Revolution”. Now Quebec is the most secular province in the country. I’d like to see the same thing happen in Ireland and I actually believed it might happen along with the economic boom of the “celtic tiger’ beginning the mid 1990s. Maybe there’s still hope yet.

    • November 14, 2012 at 11:42 am

      I have no idea why he would say something as fucking retrograde and irrelevant as “This is a Catholic country” to a dangerously ill patient.

      Um, well…

      Catholic mentality is so inextricably tied up in every aspect of Irish society


      The problem in Ireland is that Catholicism is pervasive. For so long, it was the only religion of our tiny country

      Sounds like a pretty decent answer to me, personally.

    • Sally
      November 16, 2012 at 12:58 pm

      We have a public referendum on whether to legalize abortion once every ten years or so, and every time it has been rejected.

      I don’t know what you’re referring to here.

      In 1992, following the X Case ruling, we had a referendum to prohibit women from seeking abortion when the only risk to their life was a risk of suicide. It was defeated.

      In 2002, we had another referendum on the same topic, and again the Irish electorate affirmed a woman’s right to access abortion if she is at risk of suicide otherwise.

      In the last twenty years, Irish voters have done nothing but vote down anti-abortion legislation.

  17. Bagelsan
    November 14, 2012 at 10:44 am

    Breaking, Catholicism hates women. News at 11.

  18. November 14, 2012 at 11:44 am

    As a human being and as someone who teaches medical students, I am absolutely sickened by the fact that it was physicians who murdered this unfortunate woman.

    • Bagelsan
      November 14, 2012 at 7:42 pm

      Yeah, I thought the Hippocratic Oath was “do no harm” not “don’t do fuck all.”

      • Victoria
        November 15, 2012 at 8:27 am

        Small point of fact but physicians rarely, read never, take the Hippocratic Oath. Secondly the Hippocratic Oath specifically forbids doctors from performing abortions among many other things (surgery, pulling teeth, etc). It’s a trade agreement more than anything and is not used today because it is so outdated.

        Except for that one part.

  19. mxe354
    November 14, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    Absolutely horrifying. Anti-choicers never fail to shock me with their sheer hatred for women.

  20. Bruce McGlory
    November 14, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    misogynstic religion killed yet another innocent woman? In other news water, in its liquid state, continues to be wet.

  21. SunlessNick
    November 14, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    But the fetus, which had no chance of survival, still had a heartbeat. Its right to life quite literally trumped hers.

    Not even its right to life – at best its right to die slowly. At worst – well if you’re sacrificing someone’s life for sake of your clean conscience, then you’re doing both clean and conscience wrong.

  22. Kathleen
    November 14, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    I’m going to have to take exception to the passionate defenses of Ireland’s non-racism being mounted here. Gah? The Irish have had to *fight* to be considered white, which for much of the 19th and 20th centuries when whiteness really “took off” as an organizing principle meant kicking non-whites in the teeth as hard as possible to prove they themselves were in, not out. Sure, it was a product of other kinds of oppressions but that doesn’t make it less real. Miscarriage is *very common*. The fact that white Irish women are not dying left and right from septicemia means that somehow, Irish medical professionals find a way to bend the rules in order to provide them with necessary treatment. That everyone (and there had to be a TEAM of people knowing what was going on with this woman) involved in this case, this brown-skinned foreign woman suffering before their very eyes case, suddenly became a stickler for the official rules… take a good hard look at that, Ireland.

    • Eve
      November 14, 2012 at 1:50 pm

      Who here hasn’t acknowledged that Ireland has a problem with racism?

    • November 15, 2012 at 3:23 am

      White Irish women have been denied this treatment too. Probably not with the crass “we’re a Catholic country” bullshit, though.

  23. November 14, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    According to the BBC report, the fetus’ heartbeat ceased on Wednesday, while Savita died on Sunday. When exactly did they begin attempts to save Savita’s life?

  24. Tim
    November 14, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    I certainly wouldn’t want to give Ireland a pass for bad laws and social policy, but I think a few people in the USA should maybe ease themselves off their high horses about our superiority over other countries. If you think “it can’t happen here,” well, I hope you’re right but I don’t have much confidence. I have heard things about the attitudes of the local catholic hospital in my city that make me think it’s just waiting for the right unfortunate combination of circumstances for something like this to happen. In our case, there is another major, non-Catholic hospital in town that in a case like this a woman could be taken to. But many places are not so lucky.

    • November 14, 2012 at 5:26 pm

      Has anyone in this thread suggested that “it can’t happen here,” with here being the U.S.?

      • November 14, 2012 at 5:44 pm

        I was under the impression that your article was pretty well covered the, “And people are trying to make this happen here!” angle, Jill. What with the whole:

        And the Republican party is trying to put laws similar to those in Ireland on the books in the United States — laws that would allow emergency room doctors to refuse to perform abortions, even in cases where the pregnant woman’s life or health depends on terminating the pregnancy.

        But I was reading with my damn lady-eyes – I’m sure Tim’s “man-oculars” saw something my feeble and whimsical peepers couldn’t.

      • Tim
        November 14, 2012 at 6:26 pm

        My point was not that politicians here are not “trying to make this happen here” (they are) or that they are not “trying to put laws similar to those in Ireland on the books in the United States” (they are) but that I think it is already possible for something like this to happen in some institutions, irrespective of the law.

        And I didn’t call out anybody specific for the stereotyping comments, but since you mention it, I will note that you felt the need to acknowledge to Eve that you got “carried away” with your “whole community” remark.

        And the sarcasm in your last sentence is just uncalled for. I said “people” and did not even imply anything about the gender of the commenters.

      • November 14, 2012 at 11:23 pm

        How did me over-generalizing about the amount of community support for anti-abortion measures have anything to do with suggesting that such support would be exclusive to that community? It’s not logically contiguous.

        Nor has Eve been apologizing for her country’s institutionalized misogyny (and racism) – she’s just been pointing out that not all individual Irish people support it, which we accept. It still has no bearing on your irrelevant straw-man about people here claiming that this is impossible in other jurisdictions. We don’t need your finger-wagging to remind us that there are people in our countries who wouldn’t give a shit if we died the same death – we know. I get flyers in the mail about it from my goddamned MP.

        And my sarcasm is *always* called for. I’m fucking hilarious.

      • RoryBorealis
        November 14, 2012 at 11:49 pm

        Mercy me, Tim’s made a tone argument. I do believe we have bingo.

      • EG
        November 14, 2012 at 11:52 pm

        And my sarcasm is *always* called for. I’m fucking hilarious.

        My name is EG, and I approve this message.

        Jadey’s sarcasm is always called for, and she is fucking hilarious.

      • yes
        November 16, 2012 at 12:48 am

        God I just love people using gendered language in feminist spaces.

      • Tim
        November 14, 2012 at 6:13 pm

        Jill, I was not referring to your post but to some of the comments. It seemed like there was a lot of “Ireland this” and “the Irish that” (again, not in your post, but some of the comments) and even you told Eve “apologies if the post implied that all Irish people are hostile to abortion rights.” I’m just saying, maybe go easy a little on the stereotyping of a whole country? What even happens to foreign tourists in the USA who show up at a hospital with a problem unless they have special insurance coverage or a lot of money?

      • RoryBorealis
        November 14, 2012 at 6:19 pm

        Tim, you’re complaining that the comments discussing a post about an incident that occurred in Ireland are…mentioning Ireland’s deeply repressive laws and social norms about abortion? Y’know, on account of how that is entirely relevant to the post being commented on, as opposed to U.S. emergency rooms or the price of tea in Timbuktu or otters in party hats or any number of topics that are fascinating yet not related to the topic at hand.

      • November 14, 2012 at 8:05 pm

        What even happens to foreign tourists in the USA who show up at a hospital with a problem unless they have special insurance coverage or a lot of money?

        Seriously? AFAIK Savita wasn’t a fucking tourist. Way to be bigoted while claiming your country isn’t filled with bigots. I’m sure the non-racist Irish on this thread are really pleased to have you on “their” side.

    • PrettyAmiable
      November 14, 2012 at 5:45 pm

      You have followed literally no Feministe coverage on Arizona.

      • Tim
        November 14, 2012 at 5:58 pm

        I have read Feministe coverage on Arizona. Not sure what your point is, as this post was about something that happened in Ireland and I was commenting on this post and the comments to this post.

      • EG
        November 14, 2012 at 9:08 pm

        Her point is, if you think any of the commenters here think the US is super-awesome-superior on abortion rights or that “it can’t happen here,” you haven’t been paying attention to what we say regarding abortion issues in the US.

      • PrettyAmiable
        November 14, 2012 at 10:46 pm

        …Did you not even read your own comment? You posited something stupid that is easily refuted by knowledge you claimed to already have. I’m having a hard time believing anyone is actually that dumb.

    • Sheelzebub
      November 15, 2012 at 9:37 am

      If you think “it can’t happen here,” well, I hope you’re right but I don’t have much confidence.

      No one person said that. In fact, reading through Feministe or any other feminist blog, you’d see the outrage and activism around anti-choice, misogynist shitheels like Akin and Mourduck and Stupak-Pitts amendment (which was vetted by the US Council of Catholic Bishops).

      I have read Feministe coverage on Arizona. Not sure what your point is, as this post was about something that happened in Ireland and I was commenting on this post and the comments to this post.

      Our point is that you’re acting like a mansplaing shitheel. You’re attributing attitudes and statements to the commenters that they have not expressed and then went on to finger-wag and lecture the commentariat here about choice issues in the US. Thanks very much for your manly direction, cupcake, but we’ve got those issues covered, as you should know since you claim to actually read this blog.

  25. John
    November 14, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    The article is a bit light on facts. The Irish Independent newspaper gives a more nuanced and detailed picture:


    Note that doctors face life imprisonment for facilitating abortion in Ireland.

    • PrettyAmiable
      November 14, 2012 at 5:47 pm

      Well, if it’s a choice between possible life imprisonment and being complicit in murder (and they choose murder), I have no sympathy.

      • Bagelsan
        November 14, 2012 at 8:11 pm

        “Fetal heartbeat? Nope, don’t hear one. Dilate her.”

        Wow, that was pretty fucking easy wasn’t it? Boom, life saved.

      • yes
        November 17, 2012 at 5:58 pm

        I’m not entirely sure I have the moral courage to face a lifetime of torment, humiliation, and suffering where I abandon my family and friends to save the life of a stranger. I’d like to think we can all be noble like that, but it’s hard to really know, isn’t it?

        I get the feeling you are sure, and you have my condolences for having personally faced such a challenge to your integrity and courage.

    • katinphilly
      November 14, 2012 at 8:09 pm

      Fur chrissakes, there is nothing nuanced about this, or any details that mitigate this atrocity. Whatever happened to “first, do no harm”? Sometimes doing the right thing in this world means fucking breaking archaic, oppressive and murderous laws. I seriously doubt this law would have been activated had the doctors saved her life. Sheesh.

  26. dc
    November 14, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    Note that doctors face life imprisonment for facilitating abortion in Ireland.
    life in prison, eh?
    *irony alert*

    • Kristen from MA
      November 15, 2012 at 2:53 pm


    • Martha
      November 16, 2012 at 1:17 pm

      thank you.

  27. lawtalkinggirl
    November 14, 2012 at 6:16 pm

    Why didn’t Savita Halappanavar leave the country when she was refused medical treatment? Why didn’t the Irish doctors advise her husband to take her to England? Couldn’t she have been flown to Manchester/Birmingham/London/anywhere on a commercial flight or by air ambulance? Or couldn’t she have been driven to England via ferry if she could not fly? Even if her condition was dire for several days couldn’t she have been transported to a hospital outside Ireland that could have performed the procedure she needed? I wish the news articles explained why she was not taken to a facility that would have saved her life.

    • (BFing)Sarah
      November 14, 2012 at 6:49 pm

      Maybe because the doctors obviously didn’t give a fuck about HER life?

    • RoryBorealis
      November 14, 2012 at 6:55 pm

      Maybe because she was in the middle of a dire medical emergency, which tends to preclude international travel? In addition to what (BFing)Sarah said.

    • November 14, 2012 at 8:22 pm

      These doctors didn’t have the fucking foresight to give the woman an antibiotic until it was too late, ferchrissakes.

    • November 14, 2012 at 8:26 pm

      Fuck you for saying that it was a DYING WOMAN’S responsibility to LEAVE THE COUNTRY rather than expect basic fucking medical care from one of the best hospitals in her own. No, seriously, fuck you. What fresh hell of Bizarro-world victim blaming is this?

      • Donna L
        November 14, 2012 at 8:46 pm

        Right, she and her husband should have known that she was about to die, and that he was supposed to drag her out of bed, stick her in a car, and drive her on a ferry to England. What’s the big deal?

        Three years ago, when I was extremely ill with post-surgical complications, I was driven in an ambulance from a hospital in Montreal, across the border, and all the way to New York City. It’s not such an easy thing to arrange, and it’s worse to actually go through, I assure you. I had to put the entire cost (and it cost a lot) on a credit card before the ambulance company would agree to take me. Do you think hospitals pay for something like that? Even in Canada? And there’s no way the hospital in Montreal would have let me go in the first place if they hadn’t been pretty sure I would survive the trip. I was very sick, but not in the condition Ms. Halappanavar was in.

      • RoryBorealis
        November 14, 2012 at 8:59 pm

        Not to mention, Galway is on Ireland’s west coast, i.e. the side that is furthest from England. It is not a short hop, even apart from the fact that Savita was miscarrying, in excruciating pain, and dying of an entirely preventable infection. Expecting doctors with the training and technology a reasonable person would expect in a large modern hospital to do the bare minimum that their job requires and make a good-faith effort to save her life–what could she and her husband possibly have been thinking, amirite?

        Donna, everything about your cross-border ambulance experience sounds terrible, even with doctors who were at least trying their best to ensure that you’d at minimum survive the entire ordeal.

      • November 14, 2012 at 9:01 pm

        I got charged $45 dollars for an ambulance ride from the mall to the hospital once when I got an uncontrollable nosebleed in Zellers.

        You can SEE the hospital from the mall. It’s that close. I probably could have walked had the employees not been over-concerned (was preggers at the time) and called the ambulance.

      • November 14, 2012 at 9:04 pm

        That comment was meant to reference Donna’s “even in Canada” remark.

      • Tim
        November 14, 2012 at 8:47 pm

        I can’t seem to comment on your reply to me above, but since you’re getting all ragey at lawtalkinggirl and cursing her too, I’ll do it here.

        Seriously? AFAIK Savita wasn’t a fucking tourist.

        Yes, I was wrong about that. I did not read carefully. I can’t get to the original article that Jill linked to, but I recall it saying she was a dentist; it was the Irish Times article that said she was working there. I don’t know exactly what you mean by the country being “her own” — had she become a citizen? Regardless, this should not have happened to her. When I said “tourist,” I made an unfounded assumption; if you want to insist it is a racist one, that’s your right.

        Way to be bigoted while claiming your country isn’t filled with bigots. I’m sure the non-racist Irish on this thread are really pleased to have you on “their” side.

        HUNH? I mean really, WTF is this even about? Where did I say what country I am from? Where did I say that “my” country, whatever it is, “isn’t filled with bigots”? Who is making unfounded assumptions now?

      • Tim
        November 14, 2012 at 8:54 pm

        Oh, now I get it: you think that because I am using the name “Tim” on here that I am Irish? Do you think that all Irish men are named Timothy or Patrick or Sean and that anyone with those names is Irish? It sounds like you have your own little racial assumption/perception problem.

      • Donna L
        November 14, 2012 at 9:24 pm

        No, I suspect people were just giving you the benefit of the doubt in thinking that maybe you were being defensive about your own country. Because the alternative explanation would be that you’re just a derailing ass, who has no idea whatsoever how frequently the USA gets criticized here, and thinks that in a thread about something awful that happened in Ireland, there’s something wrong with people being critical about the policies in Ireland — where *every* hospital is effectively a Catholic hospital, and where abortion actually is illegal, rather than something that a segment of the population wants to make illegal.

      • November 14, 2012 at 9:26 pm

        Sorry, Tim, I should have known better than to assume that you were Irish from your irrational fist-waving about straw Irish-haters, and better than to assume that you could read from your massive incomprehension both of the linked news articles and Jill’s post.

        And no, I wasn’t aware that Tim was a particularly Irish name; is that a thing now? I thought it was Michael or Patrick that was the “standard Irish” name, if anything. Wat.

      • November 14, 2012 at 9:29 pm

        Donna, have I recently mentioned that I love your way with words?

      • Sheelzebub
        November 15, 2012 at 9:38 am


      • Sheelzebub
        November 15, 2012 at 9:41 am

        Killing a brown-skinned woman from India because treating her miscarriage would be hurting the dying fetus: totally not racist.

        Mistaking a random commenter on Feministe for being Irish: OH MY GOD SO RACIST.

    • lawtalkinggirl
      November 14, 2012 at 8:33 pm

      It is more that I would like to know why the doctors and nurses or anyone in Ireland did not advise her to leave the country immediately to get the care she needed (assuming they didn’t, and assuming there was a way to transport her). The articles imply that she was alert and ambulatory for 3.5 days before going into the ICU. If the doctors could not perform the procedure themselves due to fear of life imprisonment then why could they not at the very least help her get treatment in England? It is outrageous that they did not give her the care she needed but also outrageous that they did not help her get it somewhere else.

      • November 15, 2012 at 9:59 am

        Oh, I see, that makes somewhat more sense. But…why are you assuming those doctors wanted her to live at all? I mean, that’s at the root of all your questions, and I sincerely don’t get it, because it’s pretty obvious they actively didn’t give a shit about this poor woman.

      • Q Grrl
        November 15, 2012 at 12:10 pm

        It is more that I would like to know why the doctors and nurses or anyone in Ireland did not advise her to leave the country immediately to get the care she needed (assuming they didn’t, and assuming there was a way to transport her).

        Because it isn’t that the doctors didn’t want to perform the abortion; they didn’t want her to have one at all.


        They made a choice about her body and her life that wasn’t theirs to make.

    • Eve
      November 14, 2012 at 9:23 pm

      Are you really, actually trying to victim blame here? Really?

    • amblingalong
      November 15, 2012 at 1:23 am

      I don’t know if I’m just being dumb, but I read lawtalkinggirl’s post as a response to the idea that the doctors didn’t have any options aside from “let a woman die” or “go to jail forever,” not as attacking Savita. Regardless of whether her proposals make sense, I didn’t read them as victim-blaming, but rather reinforcing the failure of the doctors to try very hard at saving her life.

  28. Donna L
    November 14, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    This makes me even sadder, if that’s possible:


    Mr Halappanavar yesterday repeated his belief that his wife would not have died if she had been given the termination that the couple repeatedly asked for in the hospital. Asked whether he thought things could have turned out differently if a termination had been carried out, he said: “Yes of course.”

    Speaking to The Irish Times from Belgaum in southwestern India, his wife’s home region, he said Ireland’s reputation for being a “good place to have a baby” was among the factors in their decision to start a family here. “All our friends had great stories to tell about the babies they had in Ireland. So we decided we’d go there. We had heard Ireland was a good place to have a baby. Most of our friends there had babies there and they’re all fine and so we decided: have a baby in Ireland.”

  29. shfree
    November 14, 2012 at 9:20 pm

    This whole thing is appalling all the way around. She clearly got nothing to ease any discomfort she might be having as a result of the miscarriage. Nor was the fetus given anything to ease whatever suffering it might experience over three days of slow death, as those doctors are so concerned for the life and well being of the fetus. And for fuck’s sake, when I started to run a mild fever during my labor, they hooked me up to antibiotics on principle. Maybe that is just a US thing, but the fact that they didn’t give her antibiotics after her water broke and she still didn’t pass the fetus was just sick and appalling medical care.

  30. PrettyAmiable
    November 14, 2012 at 10:52 pm

    Semi de-rail, but another big lack of abortion access to women/children who need it. Poland refused abortion access to a 14-year-old rape victim recently and was ordered to pay restitution to her. She ended up getting the abortion, but she went through such bullshit to get it.

    Shout out to Gdansk, where she got the abortion. I wasn’t close with the grandmother who lived there and had just passed, but I choose to believe she was awesome and progressive.

    • EG
      November 14, 2012 at 11:10 pm

      Wasn’t it in Poland recently where doctors told a woman that if she continued a pregnancy, she would lose her sight, and the state did not allow her to have an abortion, and sure enough, she went blind?

      Yes, it was.

      But it’s all OK, you guys. She was awarded $33,000 in damages. That’s fair. I’d say that’s about what my sight is worth, wouldn’t you?

      • PrettyAmiable
        November 15, 2012 at 12:49 pm

        The price thing – do you (or anyone) know where the hell these figures are coming from? The 14-year-old got something like 50mm pounds. Who is the trauma price-setter?

  31. Lit
    November 15, 2012 at 1:55 am

    This is sad. Why do we have to kill those who are already with us in order to protect those we have not even seen. Is this really right?

  32. Tonya
    November 15, 2012 at 2:27 am

    I’ve been reading about this all day and it’s disgusting. The fact that human beings would allow another human being to DIE to save a FETUS is egregious. And all in the name of religion. I really hope this opens people’s eyes in the world that are anti-choice to see what these kinds of stances do to real women’s lives….

    • November 15, 2012 at 9:24 am

      The fact that human beings would allow another human being to DIE to not even succeed in saving a DYING FETUS is egregious.

      They weren’t even trying to save the fetus. They basically made her wait for it to die on its own, because it wasn’t viable.

  33. Alara Rogers
    November 15, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    This would have been horrible enough if there had been any chance of the fetus surviving, but the fact that the fetus was already dying, and yet they would not put it out of *its* misery to *save its mother’s life*, demonstrates a level of hostility to women *and* children that is mind-boggling.

    They killed this woman, not to save her baby, but so that they would not have to take responsibility for killing it. Except now they have responsibility for killing an adult woman! Fuckers.

    This story especially gives me chills because I had a miscarriage, of a wanted pregnancy, and although I did not originally want to have a D&C because they told me it might pass on its own, it didn’t, and I ended up having severe cramps and pain. I live in Maryland. I got my D&C on an emergency basis, no questions asked. And my baby was already dead, no fetal heartbeat. But I know what the pain of having a dead and/or dying human being in your uterus feels like from just a day of enduring it, so the thought of a woman going through that for several days is utterly horrifying. And I remember being afraid that they weren’t going to be able to get me in for the D&C and I’d have to wait several days, and how glad I was that they could do it right away. This poor, poor woman. Suffering pain from medical problems is horrible, but suffering pain at the *hospital* when you are surrounded by people you turned toward to save you, and they refuse to… that’s just a whole other level of horror.

    The Catholic Church is just evil. This isn’t even solely misogyny; the existence of Mother Teresa, who glorified suffering and allowed the dying to suffer agony in her care because she thought it was good for them, and the fact that the Church *lionizes* this woman, demonstrates that in fact the Catholic Church just hates human beings. But it especially hates women. In the US, I would like to see the Church denied the right to own hospitals, based on their track record of imposing their religious beliefs on people who come to them for care… but it sounds like in Ireland, the problem is the pervasive Catholicism running through the whole country.

    I do wish you Irish pro-choicers luck in getting your nation to reform on this matter. You’ve got a harder fight than even we USians do, and I respect you for fighting it. Maybe if we’re lucky, Dr. Halappanavar’s death won’t be completely in vain, and pro-choice Irish people like you guys will be able to get enough traction from the story of her horrible death to change things so no one has to die like she did again… but unfortunately I doubt it.

  34. David
    November 15, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    Such a pity that a case like this has to used as a political weapon by people who are less than scrupulous about how they report it. But, fools rush in , as they say.

    The facts are that she was admitted to hospital on a Sunday, asked for an abortion on the Tuesday morning , which was refused, and then in the evening, after belated blood tests, was found to have serious septicaemia and was put onto anti-biotics. According to reports, she was actually showing signs of the infection when she was admitted but these seem to have been missed by the medics.

    It seems more than likely that it was the missing of the signs of the infection which lead to her death and that giving her the abortion she asked for would have made no difference to the ultimate outcome.

    see here

    • Donna L
      November 15, 2012 at 8:55 pm

      Right, we’re all fools. Fucking asshole.

    • RoryBorealis
      November 15, 2012 at 9:11 pm

      Is this the world’s most inept attempt at damage control and avoiding a massive tort claim, or merely apologia from the forced-birth set? Please enlighten my foolish lady-self, for I am so confused!

      Or, what Donna said. Asshole.

    • mxe354
      November 15, 2012 at 10:02 pm

      Here you go:

      “‘As Ms. Halappanavar died of an infection, one that would have been brewing for several days if not longer, the fact that a termination was delayed for any reason is malpractice. Infection must always be suspected whenever, preterm labor, premature rupture of the membranes, or advanced premature cervical dilation occurs (one of the scenarios that would have brought Ms. Halappanavar to the hospital).'”

      Now fuck off.

      • David
        November 16, 2012 at 4:35 am

        A quote from your obstetrician source which you seem to have missed:

        “Whether it’s Irish Catholic law or malpractice, only time will tell”

        As I said, fools rush in. That woman at least is no fool.

      • RoryBorealis
        November 16, 2012 at 10:44 am

        That doesn’t actually refute any of our points, boyo. One clearly does not preclude the other.

      • EG
        November 16, 2012 at 10:57 am

        Six of one, half a dozen of the other, and one dead woman.

      • November 16, 2012 at 1:26 pm

        They still murdered her – that’s the fucking point. Did you even read that article?

      • November 16, 2012 at 1:41 pm

        Also, from that same article:

        As there is no medically acceptable scenario at 17 weeks where a woman is miscarrying AND is denied a termination, there can only be three plausible explanations for Ms. Hapappanavar’s “medical care” :

        1) Irish law does indeed treat pregnant women as second class citizens and denies them appropriate medical care. The medical team was following the law to avoid criminal prosecution.

        2) Irish law does not deny women the care they need; however, a zealous individual doctor or hospital administrator interpreted Catholic doctrine in such a way that a pregnant woman’s medical care was somehow irrelevant and superceded by heart tones of a 17 weeks fetus that could never be viable.

        3) Irish law allows abortions for women when medically necessary, but the doctors involved were negligent in that they could not diagnose infection when it was so obviously present, did not know the treatment, or were not competent enough to carry out the treatment.

        And here’s the thing; explanations 1 and 2 are the most plausible; the doctors actually said that abortion was wrong because the fetus still had a heartbeat. In any case, she was denied an abortion for no reason, and as a result died.

    • November 16, 2012 at 11:26 am

      Oh dear me, using this as a political weapon. The debasing of the discourse! (Says the chorus of assholes.)

      Hey, you know what’s important? To politicize DEATHS caused by INHUMAN PUBLIC POLICY. You know why it’s important? To prevent DEATHS caused by INHUMAN PUBLIC POLICY.

      When I think a death is caused by inhuman public policy, I intend to use it as a political weapon. And if my death is caused by inhuman public policy, I really hope that my allies use it as a political weapon to change the public policy that caused my death.

      (I’m sitting in the US, and I can think of a lot of American deaths that have been politicized: Crispus Attucks. Over a hundred women at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. Emmett Till. Jeffrey Glenn Miller at Kent State. Gee, I wonder if deaths in Ireland that have resulted from inhuman public policy are ever used as political weapons?)

      • November 16, 2012 at 6:32 pm

        I couldn’t have said it better myself.

  35. Donna L
    November 15, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    An article about some of the reactions in India, including comments by Dr. Halappanavar’s parents:


    Ms Halappanavar’s death has led news programmes, newspapers and discussion programmes across her native India, some of it including hostile references to Ireland.

    Her parents, father Andanappa Yalagi and mother A Mahadevi, have been widely interviewed voicing harsh criticism of the care their only daughter and youngest child received in Ireland. Ms Mahadevi told several Indian television stations on Wednesday: “In an attempt to save a four-month-old foetus they killed my 31-year-old daughter. How is that fair, you tell me? How many more cases will there be? The rules should be changed as per the requirement of Hindus. We are Hindus, not Christians,” she said.

    Ireland’s ambassador to India is meanwhile attempting to ease concerns in the country over Ms Halappanavar’s death. . . . Officials in diplomatic circles in Dublin said meetings were planned with politicians of all creeds in an effort to indicate the exact position on abortion in Ireland “in light of strong headlines”. . . .

    The Irish Embassy in New Delhi has expressed its “profound condolences” to Ms Halappanavar’s husband, Praveen, and her family.

    Well, I guess that should make everything all right, then.

    • November 16, 2012 at 11:06 am

      “Look, we white people said sorry! What more do you fuckers want? Blood?

      …wait, tehre was blood, wasn’t there?

      …oh, yours, not ours?

      …well, what more do you fuckers want? BLOOD?”

      • Tim
        November 16, 2012 at 12:30 pm

        It sounds like you have bought into that “the Irish are racist” explanation for what happened. This tragedy is bad enough; why do you bring race into the discussion without any evidence?

      • November 16, 2012 at 12:50 pm

        This tragedy is bad enough; why do you bring race into the discussion without any evidence?

        You’re really going for the race bingo here, aren’t you?

      • RoryBorealis
        November 16, 2012 at 12:54 pm

        White men have it so hard in this world. It is so sad for them when someone points out that institutionalized racism permeates pretty much every aspect of society.

      • Sheelzebub
        November 16, 2012 at 1:26 pm

        Maybe because the woman who died was Indian and Hindu, because she and her husband were told “This is a Catholic country.”

        But do, go on, ignore the dead Indian woman to protest unfair treatment of white Irish men on the internet.

  36. November 16, 2012 at 5:24 am

    You do not know the facts of this tragic case and you cannot say that an abortion would have saved the lady’s life.You made an extreme statement which you cannot prove to be true.

    • DonnaL
      November 16, 2012 at 9:49 am

      So this is now the party line for all the forced-birthers crawling out of the woodwork?

      • EG
        November 16, 2012 at 10:43 am

        Well, you know, Donna, all things are possible with God–how were those doctors to know that not treating her would kill her? Shouldn’t they have had faith that God could swoop in and save her at any minute? Similarly, how can we possibly know that God wouldn’t have killed her no matter what?

        Silly pro-choicers, acting as though human beings have knowledge and skills that matter.

      • RoryBorealis
        November 16, 2012 at 11:16 am

        Well, it’s working so well in El Salvador and Honduras, where women routinely die of ectopic pregnancies because doctors are required to wait until the fallopian tube actually ruptures before removing it, as well as miscarriages (as in Savita’s case) and other obstetric emergencies.

        Did I say “working so well?” I meant “forcing women to needlessly die in agony instead of providing basic life-saving medical intervention.” Potato, potahto in that worldview.

    • November 16, 2012 at 9:49 am

      Given that she died because she was poisoned by a non-viable and decomposing foetus that was not removed in a timely fashion, I think we can say pretty emphatically that an abortion would definitely have saved her life

      It’s like you saying, “Well, yes, she had an operable tumour and, yes, it was cancerous, but you haven’t proved that it was responsible for killing her and removing it would have saved her!”

      • November 16, 2012 at 9:52 am

        Don’t be silly, Jadey, cancer is a man-disease! Of course there’s medical treatments and ethical care for the patient when they have cancer.

      • Tim
        November 16, 2012 at 10:26 am

        So, Jadey, you are not only “fucking hilarious,” but are also apparently a forensic pathologist who performed the autopsy on this unfortunate woman and can therefore speak authoritatively on the exact cause of death?

        Yes, she should have been allowed a termination. But all Susan-Anne White said is that you cannot know that it would have saved her life, which is a fact. It probably would have, yes. But you cannot know; nobody can. So you can’t “pretty emphatically” say “definitely” any such thing.

        You’re right; you are hilarious, just not for any of the reasons you think.

      • November 16, 2012 at 10:36 am

        Tim, Jadey is ALL THE THINGS as far as I’m concerned, and she’s, like, ten times smarter than you, so shhhhh.

      • TL;DR
        November 16, 2012 at 10:37 am

        Obvious trolls are obvious.

      • EG
        November 16, 2012 at 10:41 am

        Oh, so Jadey can say it only with 99.99% certainty, and not 100%?

        You know what? That’s good enough for me, and I bet it would have been good enough for the dead woman.

        But I’ll tell you what. You find an example of a woman who presents at a hospital in the middle of a second-trimester miscarriage, as did Savita Halappanavar and is immediately treated with a D&C and antibiotics, but who dies anyway, and then we can talk.

      • Past my expiration date
        November 16, 2012 at 11:11 am

        Jadey is not only hilarious, she’s also not a sophist.

      • Jadey
        November 16, 2012 at 11:11 am

        Talk about taking solipsistic empiricism to new heights. Tim, do you really live in a world where everything is false unless you literally observed it with your own senses? Personally, while I’m absolutely in favour of maintaining some rational skepticism, I don’t think that extends to denying without cause the veracity of the reported cause of death in this case, which was septicaemia (i.e., blood poisoning), the source of which was, unless magic or aliens were involved, the foetus. When someone is being poisoned, removing the source of the poison before took much is released into their system is pretty much Step 1 in saving their life. No news report I have seen has had anyone involved in any aspect of this case denying the reported cause of death – why in hell would you? What special insider knowledge do you have?

      • RoryBorealis
        November 16, 2012 at 12:50 pm

        Don’t you realize that scientific and medical knowledge pale in comparison to the shining might of Tim’s special man-senses and man-skepticism?

      • November 16, 2012 at 12:55 pm


        *is dazzled*

        …wait, wait, maybe Tim’s actually Edward Cullen!

      • RoryBorealis
        November 16, 2012 at 12:58 pm

        Mac, that would certainly explain the anti-choice apologia he’s been spouting.

      • November 16, 2012 at 1:00 pm

        Rory, wouldn’t it just?

        Also, in that case, I totally understand why he’s not sympathetic to Savita’s death at all. He probably expected her husband to heroically bite through her spine or something.

      • Tim
        November 16, 2012 at 12:35 pm

        … poisoned by a non-viable and decomposing foetus …

        Where are you getting this from? It’s nothing like what the linked-to Dr. said, and she is an OB/GYN.

      • RoryBorealis
        November 16, 2012 at 12:39 pm

        No, Tim, you’re right, Savita’s death due to a known death risk from an incomplete miscarriage and subsequent lack of medical care is totally implausible. Sure the invisible aliens shot her with their extraterrestrial death-ray to punish her for expecting doctors to provide her with necessary care.

      • Tim
        November 16, 2012 at 12:42 pm

        Also, your cancer analogy actually undermines your own argument. The chances that removing an operable tumor will save the life of the patient are much smaller, sometimes orders of magnitude smaller, than the probability that an abortion/termination would have saved the life of Savita Halappanavar.

      • RoryBorealis
        November 16, 2012 at 12:43 pm

        So your point is what, precisely? That an abortion wouldn’t have saved Savita’s life, except that there is an enormous chance that it would have?

      • November 16, 2012 at 12:47 pm

        Oh my god. Do you even listen to yourself when you think of consecutive sentences? Because with the way they all contradict each other, I’m currently imagining a Committee Of Tim that’s posting comments with a round-robin system, except everyone hates everyone else.

    • EG
      November 16, 2012 at 10:44 am

      Actually, we do know the facts. What facts do you imagine are missing?

      • RoryBorealis
        November 16, 2012 at 10:47 am

        The imaginary ones that exist only in anti-choicers’ heads, of course!

    • Past my expiration date
      November 16, 2012 at 11:08 am

      you cannot say that an abortion would have saved the lady’s life. You made an extreme statement which you cannot prove to be true.

      That is true. We cannot prove that Savita Halappanavar would not have died if she had gotten a D&C and antibiotics when she needed them, because there is not an alternate universe in which absolutely everything was exactly the same, except that Savita Halappanavar got a D&C and antibiotics when she needed them, and didn’t die. A silly oversight on our part.

    • Sally Strange (@SallyStrange)
      November 18, 2012 at 4:23 pm

      Typical anti-scientific innumerate ignorance from an anti-choicer. No, you can’t be 100% certain that an abortion would have saved her life. But there are some things we do know.

      1. Giving her an abortion when she asked for it would have increased her chance of not dying.

      2. We know this because it is the standard of care in civilized countries. It is the medically recommended treatment for a miscarriage that is already underway.

      Look, reality doesn’t work that way. Simply by posing a hypothetical in which the outcome has already determined, the only thing we can be certain of is that Savita was refused an abortion, had her cervix dilated, which put her in danger of infection, and removing the fetus from her uterus was the most effective way to get rid of the source of the infection. But they waited until the fetus’ heart muscles stopped twitching before acting to give her the care that would PROBABLY (i.e., a high likelihood, at least greater than 50%, possibly more, depending on the details) have saved her life. Did you know that individual heart muscles cells, cultured and placed in a petri dish, will “beat”–twitch rhythmically–and when you have more than one, they will beat in concert?

      You didn’t know that, did you. Of course not. Because you don’t understand things. And that’s why you cling to controlling women’s sexuality. It makes you feel like you have a handle on things. Everyone in their place.

  37. Martha
    November 16, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    I really wish this woman didn’t have to die for people to start talking about how deleterious to the lives of women the anti-abortion stance is in Ireland.

    However, I’m pretty sure if we had another referendum on abortion tomorrow it would still remain illegal.

    It upsets me to see some of my friends cling to their “pro-life” views.. up until someone close to them “gets caught” (as we say in Irish slang) and/or has to hush hush sneak sneak off to the UK for an expensive and highly stigmatised procedure. And not everyone has that privilege…

    Try calling yourself pro-life after this tragedy.

Comments are closed.