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On October 28,  Savita Halappanavar, a 31 year old women, born in India, died.  She was in the process of having a miscarriage, being 17 weeks pregnant.  Unfortunately, she was in a hospital in a country where the life of the fetus is more important than the life of the mother.  She kept begging for the physicians who know good and well that she was truly suffering from a miscarriage, to perform an abortion.  They could steal hear a fetal heart-beat.  According to Irish law, she would be required to suffer, probably to die, in order to make sure that the baby was not improperly terminated.

The woman suffered, horribly.

“...The next day, Savita became visibly ill, shivering and vomiting, and the fetal heartbeat stopped during the following afternoon. Doctors then removed the fetus and Savita was taken to intensive care where she deteriorated rapidly, suffering multi-organ failure a few days later, dying in the early hours of Oct. 28. She had contracted a form of blood poisoning as well as an E. coli infection, a pathologist found….”

This beautiful young woman died in a Catholic hospital, where the life of the unborn was given preference to the life of the living.

Rheality Check

…This case happened in Ireland. But it is not isolated. Just this past summer, a teen in the Dominican Republic died because she was denied chemotherapy for cancer. Countless others die every day, but without press coverage we just don’t see or hear about them. As Ipas notes, Women in El Salvador and Mexico have been put in jail for both abortions and “suspicious” miscarriages. Young girls in Argentina and Brazil, victims of violence and incest, have been denied safe abortion care. A total abortion ban in Nicaragua means that not only do women die for lack of safe abortion care, but that untold numbers of women and girls who are the victims of violence are forced to endure pregnancy and childbearing against their will. …”

I am anti-abortion.  I find the idea of an abortion for birth control purposes to be just plain old murder.  But, I am also a rational and compassionate person who comprehends the fact that the life of the living is more important than the life of a 17 week old fetus.

Alternet

The problem is that, if people like Paul Ryan or Rick Santorum, or any of the members of the extreme pro-life movement have their way, this is what will be happening more and more.  It isn’t because we do not treasure life, it is because they don’t give a damn about women.  To the far right, a woman has become nothing more than a womb without a view.  She is a breeder, with no value other than to produce little white babies to repopulate the world.

When the life of a living woman is considered less important than the life of the unborn, something is terribly wrong.  The Pink Flamingo wants to know if it is murder to allow a living, breathing person to die to in order to preserve the life of someone yet born?

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3 Comments

  • unknown jane says:

    I have some very big issues with the Alternet piece — that a fetus cannot be a soul; that’s a dangerous and slippery slope that should probably not be sided with (abortion, whether warranted or unwarranted, is a very explosive thing and we have to be careful with it — this means a conservative approach is most definitely warranted!).

    As for the pro-life movement: it is just as debased a thing now as the “pro-choice” movement on the left…neither one stands for what it claims. And if they wish to stand on Catholic doctrine, then they will have to go back and read the Humanae Vitae — which may not say exactly what many want them to. Unfortunately, many Catholic institutions are also no longer conversant on that tract (which is a wonderful document, well thought out, and even if you don’t agree with it, or only agree with it in some aspects, you have to marvel at how the arguments were refined and crafted).
    In a situation such as this, at least in American Catholic hospitals, most would determine that the poor woman was in an advanced stage of miscarriage (thus no way of stopping the loss of life to the fetus) the moral/ethical thing to do was to ease the natural progression so as to err on the side of life (in this case, the life of the mother). They have some rather clever ways to help rape victims without breaking their doctrine as well, if at all possible (naturally, it isn’t perfect, but it is at least an attempt to try and address the issue in the best ethical yet doctrinal ways possible)…as for incest victims…well, they usually refer them to non-Catholic institutions or physicians within their own network who operate private clinics.
    My mom used to work ob/gyn/labor/delivery/pediatrics for a Catholic hospital — even back in the days pre Roe v. Wade many Catholic hospitals were trying to address the issue…it is very painful for me, as a raised in the church Catholic, to see Catholic teaching cherry picked and not even well understood (thus not truly valued) by members (sort of like what I see as a conservative/libertarian leaning person of Republican tendencies…).

  • jose maria says:

    I read not long ago in a well known Catholic magazine that Catholic Doctrine teaches that terminating a pregnancy to save the life of a mother is not considered murder. Only the deliberate killing of a fetus is considered murder. There are things I just don’t understand about the extreme pro-life movement. The question I have is this. There may be a heartbeat, but is there a brain? When an adult is considered brain dead they usually pull the plug even though a heatbeat is present. Why is it considered different if it concerns a fetus that has no brain and has no chance of survival?

  • unknown jane says:

    It’s not easy to ascertain brain wave activity in a fetus, so they go off the heartbeat (and, brain wave activity does not determine physical death vs. lack of heart beat).
    But yes, Catholic doctrine implicitly states to “err on the side of life”, so this would be one of those cases where hastening the miscarriage (which, from all medically available information was happening and there was a chance that it would save the life of the mother, was not off the table as an option — difficult call, but not off the table).
    It isn’t a perfect system, but that’s why the statement is to “err” on the side of life — it takes imperfection as a given.
    Now, if there was some chance that the fetus could have been saved, then they would have had to have tried (and I don’t know the particulars of this case, maybe at some point in this, that was the case…Europe’s much vaunted healthcare system really does not hold a candle to what we have here).


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