How Many More Women Like Savita Halappanavar Should We Tolerate?

That’s what Feministe friend Soraya Chemaly is asking over at the Huffington Post. Check it out.

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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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11 Responses

  1. Rick
    Rick November 19, 2012 at 2:18 pm |

    According to this article, ectopic pregnancy surgeries are performed in Ireland. Isn’t that an “abortion” to save the life of the mother? If they are willing to do one but not the other, it seems they are clearly hypocritical.

    1. yes
      yes November 19, 2012 at 2:58 pm |

      I think they import True Scotsmen to make the call.

    2. matlun
      matlun November 19, 2012 at 3:25 pm |

      In Ireland, abortion is legal if the life of the mother is at risk.
      (Note that risk to “life” is required here. If “just” the health of the mother is at risk it is still illegal)

      1. Rick
        Rick November 19, 2012 at 5:25 pm |

        It may be legal, but apparently it is not required.

        1. matlun
          matlun November 19, 2012 at 6:10 pm |

          Formally, it is required or it would be judged malpractice.

          The problem is that this becomes a judgment call. How do you differentiate between the case where there is a risk for serious health complications and a risk for death. How large would the risk for death have to be to count?

          There appears to be no clear guidelines in law or government regulation. In fact, in 2010, the European Court of Human Rights found that Ireland is in violation against the convention of human rights “by failing to provide an accessible and effective procedure by which a woman can have established whether she qualifies for a legal abortion under current Irish law” (wiki link).

          It is a huge mess.

          And that is even before getting into the problem of why women should have to accept any severe health complication short of death.

        2. Wendy Lyon
          Wendy Lyon November 20, 2012 at 2:32 am |

          In that ECHR case, the Irish government was asked to provide data on how many lifesaving abortions had been carried out in Ireland. The government couldn’t come up with any evidence of a single one.

    3. Glenna
      Glenna November 19, 2012 at 3:42 pm |

      It’s worse than you think. The Catholic magisterium permits this surgery if it involves removal of the entire fallopian tube in question. It is of COURSE not abortion because you’re not specifically aiming at removing the fetus (the inevitable, um, side effect, or “secondary and unintended”). Yet this destroys half of the woman’s reproductive capacity for the future.

      I’m pretty sure this is fairly standard practice at Catholic hospitals in the U.S., which seems like it should be something that should be publicized.

      1. Anon
        Anon November 19, 2012 at 8:54 pm |

        Right – the doctrine of double-effect countenances a moral distinction between doing something and bringing something about. That is, to do x intentionally is morally different than bringing x about by means of doing y, so long as you intended y and not x. So it’s not ok to intentionally kill the embryo (e.g. via methotrexate, the standard initial treatment for ectopic pregnancy), but it’s ok to remove the fallopian tube, as a result of which the embryo will die. As far as I can tell, this is a distinction without a difference – in what sense is the embryo’s death really unintended? – but this is at least the moral reasoning given by the church.

        Really though I’m just commenting to correct a bit of a misconception – as someone who’s had an ectopic pregnancy, and who did have to have a ruptured tube removed, I will say that it is not true that this halves a woman’s fertility. Interestingly enough, fallopian tubes are mobile, and the other fallopian tube can sometimes ‘pick up the slack,’ so to speak. I say this only for the benefit of women who have had a salpingectomy and who are now concerned about their future fertility, and not in any way to defend the church’s reasoning.

  2. Lolagirl
    Lolagirl November 19, 2012 at 2:59 pm |

    The RCC’s stance on reproductive care for women is just so infuriating. The last 20 years has seen the Church aggressively pursue the expansion of its stranglehold over medical services in small communities where there are little, if any, options for patients to receive care from alternative sources. It’s clearly a very lucrative field for them, and bonus points for making it all the more difficult for women to receive the gynecological services they need whenever they run afoul of Catholic dogma.

    I also think the RCC sees this as an opportunity for their male-run hierarchy to further exert their will over what was initially a largely female run enterprise in the form of nurse nuns who provided much of the care at these facilities. They have attempted to do to the same to the nuns who initially provided much of the educating and ministering to the poor. That is until the Pope and the bishops realized all of these nuns doing good were not actually procuring them additional members or widening the Church’s power base.

  3. Foxy
    Foxy November 20, 2012 at 11:14 pm |

    I always believe in sanctions against countries that outright ban abortion

  4. Stella
    Stella November 23, 2012 at 4:19 am |

    How many have been there? Serious question, I dont recall another case in America or Europe hitting the headlines. If there have been other such cases in the past 10 years or so, why didnt it make headlines?

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