Woman Dies After Catholic Hospital Denies Abortion

Last month, Savita Halappanavar died after University Hospital Galway (in Ireland) denied her an abortion.

The hospital denied the termination despite the fact that the fetus was dying because the country’s anti-abortion Catholic beliefs extend to cases like this.

The details of the story are as follows: Halappanavar checked in to the hospital accompanied by her husband, Praveen Halappanavar.  At 17 weeks pregnant, she was suffering from back pain and soon learned that she was miscarrying.

Her husband… an engineer at Boston Scientific in Galway, says she asked several times over a three-day period that the pregnancy be terminated. He says that, having been told she was miscarrying, and after one day in severe pain, Ms Halappanavar asked for a medical termination.

This was refused, he says, because the foetal heartbeat was still present and they were told, “this is a Catholic country”.

She spent a further 2½ days “in agony” until the foetal heartbeat stopped.

After the heartbeat of the fetus ceased, she was taking to intensive care where the dead fetus was removed.  She died two days later of “septicaemia ‘documented ante-mortem’ and E.coli ESBL.”

The hospital extends its condolences, but will not discuss details of the case.

Here is her husband’s story of her final days:

“The doctor told us the cervix was fully dilated, amniotic fluid was leaking and unfortunately the baby wouldn’t survive.” The doctor, he says, said it should be over in a few hours. There followed three days, he says, of the foetal heartbeat being checked several times a day.

“Savita was really in agony. She was very upset, but she accepted she was losing the baby. When the consultant came on the ward rounds on Monday morning Savita asked if they could not save the baby could they induce to end the pregnancy. The consultant said, ‘As long as there is a foetal heartbeat we can’t do anything’.

“Again on Tuesday morning, the ward rounds and the same discussion. The consultant said it was the law, that this is a Catholic country. Savita [a Hindu] said: ‘I am neither Irish nor Catholic’ but they said there was nothing they could do.

I’m interested to hear from someone with more medical knowledge to find out if the delay in terminating the pregnancy may have cost Savita her life.

It is fairly evident that it made her final days agonizing.

Michael Nugent puts this into some context:

Rachel Donnelly, a spokeswoman for pro-choice campaigners in Galway, says: “This was an obstetric emergency which should have been dealt with in a routine manner. Yet Irish doctors are restrained from making obvious medical decisions by a fear of potentially severe consequences.

This is primarily a human issue, about the life and death of an actual living person, a factor that Catholic Bishops and Irish politicians often seem to forget in their obsessions with the theological status of embryos and foetuses, and the political power of the conservative vote.

So… when are we going to collectively tell religion to stay the hell away from science and medicine?  How could someone possibly spin this as the right thing to do when the mother’s life ended because of the protocols dictated by a faith instead of the science?

About Jessica Bluemke

Jessica Bluemke grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and graduated from Ball State University in 2008 with a BA in Literature. She currently works as a writer and resides on the North side of Chicago.

  • http://twitter.com/silo_mowbray Silo Mowbray

    I can hear the Catholic Propaganda Corps now: “Her death was unfortunate but unavoidable.” Just you watch.

  • Stev84

    The hospital wasn’t Catholic (i.e. owned by the church), so the headline is false.

    But national law is somewhat murky because of Catholic interference. Both the Irish High Court (20 years ago already) and the European Court of Human Rights have said that women have the right to an abortion when their life is in danger. But cowardly and superstitious politicians have so far refused to translate those directions into clear laws.

    So abortion to save a life is not explicitly legal, but it’s not necessarily illegal either. In all likelihood nothing would have happened if they had done the procedure. What kind of prosecutor would really have charged anyone here? At most there would have been an investigation.
    What happened is that there were probably a mix between religious fanatics and moral midgets who killed a woman rather than risk their own careers to test a legal grey area.

  • http://profiles.google.com/julielada Julie Lada

    “I’m interested to hear from someone with more medical knowledge to find
    out if the delay in terminating the pregnancy may have cost Savita her

    Yes. The cervix is normally closed both anatomically (it is very tight) and physiologically (by way of a mucus plug). When it is dilated bacteria from the external environment can travel retrograde up the vagina and enter a space normally closed to them. With the various fluids and dead/dying tissue of the fetus providing essentially an all you can eat buffet, septicemia was an inevitable and predictable outcome.

  • http://profiles.google.com/julielada Julie Lada

     By the way, I deal with the animal side of medicine, but much is transferable between species, and this is one of those cases that crosses all species barriers. If I had a bitch in labor for over 12 hours, one of the very first things I would do is put her on aggressive prophylactic antibiotic therapy. This hospital waited until Mrs. Halappanavar was already clearly suffering from an established infection.

  • oneeye

    I am a gynecologist. The lack of a “mucous plug” is not the problem, it’s the leaking amniotic fluid. If there is a hole in the amniotic sac (and there must be one for amniotic fluid to leak), that enables vaginal bacteria to get into the amniotic sac, the amniotic fluid, and the fetus. All are ideal growth media for bacteria. Sepsis often will follow in 24-48 hours if the uterus is not emptied (much like draining an abcess to allow it to heal). These “doctors” (I would not give them that designation) killed her as surely as if they had put a gun to her head.

  • http://twitter.com/AchronTimeless Achron Timeless

    So the catholics (effectively) murdered someone because of their beliefs. Not exactly a new thing for them.

  • starskeptic

    Thanks for that info - that’s an important, complicating and easily overlooked aspect to the story.  

  • Dats3

    Ok.  I’m having difficulty working out this logic.  A dying fetus cannot be removed because it still has a heartbeat. The fetus is not going to survive.  So the hospital put the mother’s life at risk until a dying fetus could finish dying. And, she dies as a result.  No, I don’t get it.  Preview of what might happen in Ohio?

  • http://profiles.google.com/julielada Julie Lada

    Was this meant to be in response to me? If so, at what point did you get the impression that I said that the lack of a mucous plug was the sole reason for the septicemia? I specifically stated that the open cervix allowed bacterial translocation to an environment that supported growth and led to septicemia.

  • Docgoodwin

    I’m an OB/GYN here in the US. The management of this case would be considered clearly malpractice in the country. This was an inevitable loss. Advanced cervical dilation and ruptured membranes many weeks from a viable gestational age. Labor should have been induced, in a hospital, with close monitoring for infection. Any 1st year resident could manage this. It would be routine, albeit sad. But then she’d live. The use of religious ideology in the management of a patient, at the expense of sound medical care, is an outrage. This is what happens when religiously-based laws are used in lieu of medicine.

  • Marco Conti

    Who is the fucking murderer now? 

  • Octoberfurst

    This is the kind of crap we will have to deal with if the “pro-life” fanatics here get their fetal heartbeat bills passed. 

  • Pedro Lemos

    “It was God´s wish. He works in mysterious ways.”

  • http://twitter.com/mywall mywall

    It would be interesting to hear what prosecution or disciplinary action results from this case. Several commenters have suggested malpractice.

  • oneeye

    No, not a response to be taken as criticism. Just a response. We see patients every day in their last 2-3 weeks of pregnancy with their cervix dilated 1-3 centimeters and not a mucous plug in sight. That’s not really too big an issue with amnionitis (infection in the amniotic fluid). It’s the ruptured membranes that make this case tragic and medically indefensible.

    Sorry, i did not intend my comments to be taken in any way other than from someone who has delivered a few thousand babies over the last 35 years.

  • machintelligence

    The silence on this topic over on the Catholic channel is simply deafening.

  • Pepe

    Hi Jessica, her name’s ‘Savita’. Just thought you might wanna correct it.

  • Edh

    This is the lead news story here in Ireland right now. There are protests in both Cork and Dublin, and it really feels like there is a shift in public sentiment across the country. Hopefully this disgraceful incident will be the catalyst for an immediate clarification of the law by our cowardly politicians, or else we will need to push for another abortion referendum.  At present, doctors are unwilling to perform abortions for fear of lawsuits, and politicians are unwilling to clarify the law for fear of a backlash from conservatives and the catholic church and its cronies.

  • http://profiles.google.com/julielada Julie Lada

     And I was pointing out that without an open cervix, a ruptured amniotic sac alone would not cause septicemia so acutely. It is the combination of the two that resulted in the severity of her illness.

    Again, you’re deliberately focusing on one aspect of what I said as though that were the only thing I said. I did not say that the open cervix alone was the issue. I said that the open cervix allowed bacterial migration into fetal fluids and tissues, causing infection. Which is basically exactly what you said, only for some reason you felt the need to nitpick.

    I despise the competitive one upmanship that occurs when you get more than one doctor in a room.  And you’re coming off a bit… ish.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=705066677 Desiree Bell-Fowlks

    Another reason why I personally disdain religion and the current “pro-life” movement.  No respect for women and their lives.  It’s all about the fetus worship for them.  It’s disgusting to value a fetus over a grown woman.

  • http://twitter.com/the_ewan Ewan

    I’m not sure your post is being argued with here so much as added too. FWIW it reads to me like ‘oneeye’ is making a contribution, not a criticism.

  • http://profiles.google.com/julielada Julie Lada

     Perhaps. Maybe the culture of the medical field has made me a bit oversensitive to perceived passive aggressive slights. But I still think oneeye should consider the effect of his/her approach when speaking to a colleague. I definitely don’t need the concept of draining and flushing a septic viscus explained down to me.

  • GwydionFrost

    Note to the Religious Minded: This is a prime example of what can happen when your personal beliefs aren’t the policy that is allowed to be practiced upon you. While you insist that your beliefs should be enforced upon everyone, just try to remember that there are lots of flavors in the religious spectrum, and one day, you might discover your own beliefs– which might have saved your life because they allowed proper medical treatment– are denied because they aren’t the “correct” beliefs, enforced by the very laws you helped create in the first place.

    Kind of like a political party granting itself all sorts of powers when it is in control, and then panicking when it realizes that another party will enjoy those same benefits when it is no longer in charge.

    Just… do yourself a favor when thinking this way– put your children and their children in that scenario. Try it on for size, see how it feels. Is this what you really intend…?

  • Edh

    Here is a link for fellow Irish readers to send a message to your TD

  • Gwen

     They were more interested in the heartbeat of a dying fetus, than the pleas of a dying woman. How heartless can you get? I hope this drives a major change in their laws. My heart goes out to that poor husband.

  • http://twitter.com/silo_mowbray Silo Mowbray

    Gwydion, unfortunately for many of the religious the idea that their kids or loved ones would be in such a situation is unthinkable. Only those who don’t subjugate themselves to the One True Religion or who are nasty sluts end up in these circumstances, because God in his Loving Way only punishes sinners and unbelievers with agonizing suffering and anyway, who cares about them? If you’re a member of The Club you needn’t be concerned with the Others.

  • Gwen

     This is the same thing that happened to Rick Santorum’s wife. She received an abortion and lived. Now he wants to make it illegal for other women to have one, even under the same circumstances, citing his circumstances as ‘different’.

  • David McNerney

    I really don’t want to defend this – because it is indefensible, but….

    The comments from abroad are a little patronising.  Everyone with half a brain in Ireland knows this situation is intolerable – we’ve been screaming it for nearly 20 years now.  There are protests on the streets right now with thousands (that’s a lot for a protest here) demanding the government do their damn job.

    But this was an inevitable outcome for the situation imposed on the doctors in this scenario.  I was watching the news earlier and a senior barrister was asked what the doctor’s correct response should have been and his response was that he did not know.

    As an OB/GYN you must see miscarriages on a regular basis – it’s a common if tragic occurrence. So would you sacrifice your entire career and possibly go to jail for what, in every case you’ve ever seen before, if you follow standard practice will work out just fine.  Or do you take the extreme (and in a sane world, correct) step of performing a possibly unnecessary abortion which will result in some Pro-Life whack-a-doodle having you arrested for murder.

    I heard those terrible words earlier on the radio: “this is an Irish solution to an Irish problem”.  Well, as solutions go, it sucks.  There is a better solution – our politicians need to grow a pair.

  • Gwen

     We are SUPPOSED to be discussing the needless and tragic death of a woman due to religious dogma. Neither of you were at the bedside, and your observations are speculations based on experience and medical knowledge. Leave it at that, we are on the same team here.

  • http://profiles.google.com/julielada Julie Lada

     Did you miss the part where the OP specifically asked for medical professionals’ insight?

  • fergalf

     We are told she went two days without antibiotics.

  • fergalf

    We need to wait for reliable info on what happened before jumping on a
    rash bandwagon. An inquest will reveal what actually happened. The
    Minister reilly has stated on Newstalk there is no evidence of Catholic

  • Stev84

    If not for Catholic interference and superstition there would be laws in place that would have allowed to treat her. The government has known for years that it was legally obligated to clarify the legal situation. But the Catholic Church and Catholic politicians have blocked any advancement.

  • fergalf

     To say that a doctor treating this women would risk arrest is ridiculous. Cases like this are not rare and dealt with appropriately generally. In fact to not do so would be breaking medical council guidelines. Why they weren’t implemented will await the inquest. All of the pro-life groups have said her death is inexcusable under medical council guidelines.

  • http://profiles.google.com/julielada Julie Lada

     “…in every case you’ve ever seen before, if you follow standard practice will work out just fine”

    Are you suggesting that any medical professional treating this case could reasonably assume that the actions taken by the physicians at this hospital could possibly have resulted in a “just fine” outcome? Because I’m sorry if you find it patronizing, but that is simply not the case. There is such a thing as “standard of care” in medicine. It means that a physician with equivalent training and education,  based on the information you were provided, would not be expected to make the same mistake that you did, and would have provided care that resulted in a much more favorable outcome.

    A serious ball was dropped here. There’s no justifying it. At the very least, even if you want to argue that waiting to abort was
    the rational choice by the doctors fearing for revocation of their
    licenses, Mrs. Halappanavar should have been placed on antibiotics
    much, much sooner than she was.

  • fergalf

     Funny how you claim to know the circumstances of this sad death without any of the firsthand knowledge of the details not yet released.

  • David McNerney

    Yes, of course we should wait for the results of the hospital inquiry.

    Equally, we shouldn’t let Pro-Lifers use an inquiry as a stalling tactic to delay the necessary legislation for being implemented in the hope that this will just go away and we can go back to our perfect little “abortion-free” society.

  • David McNerney

    The circumstances were different for him.  He was a Catholic.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/A37GL7VKR3W6ACSIZPH7EID3LI rlrose63

    But they will jump all over the death penalty as justified.  Not ALL life is sacred, just the unborn.

  • http://www.facebook.com/brenda.darbycarey Brenda Darby Carey

    I wish to express my horror as to what that poor woman was left to suffer in this country, it is shameful, I wish sincere sympathy to her family and friends, may she now rest in peace.

  • fergalf

     Well to rush ahead without waiting for the results of a report seems to defy the whole purpose of a report doesn’t it.

  • David McNerney

    Knowing the pretty shitty standard of care that some Irish consultants give to their patients – the possibility of negligence is not inconceivable.  It is also possible that she did receive the best possible standard of care within the restrictions placed on them.

    However, if she had been given the medical treatment she requested, that situation would have never arisen.

  • Stev84

    That post made no claim whatsoever about the circumstances of her death. This is about the circumstances that allowed this intolerable legal situation to exist. And the Catholic Church most definitely has its hands in that.

  • David McNerney

    As I said, waiting for the report is a good idea as long as it’s not used as a tactic to avoid dealing with the issue.

  • starskeptic

    Apart from providing requested info – this IS part of the discussion.

  • Carmelita Spats

    I’m not surprised. These sickos were willing to force a nine-year-old rape victim in Brazil to birth the spawn of her rapist, her step-dad. They think it’s developmentally appropriate for a nine-year-old rape victim to go through a pregnancy and a C-section. The rules are made up by maladjusted virgins (creepy priests). Against such delusion, an  adult woman doesn’t stand a chance. Check it out:


    Joke time:

    What do you call a nun in a wheelchair? A virgin mobile.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=705066677 Desiree Bell-Fowlks

    That’s why call I them fetus worshippers.  They forget there is an incubator with feelings and thoughts.  The rest of us call the  incubator a woman and actually respects what they want. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=57508266 Beth Presswood

    Santorum’s wife did not have an abortion. She went into spontaneous labor from an infection even while asking them to just give her antibiotics and labor-stopping drugs.  Now, you can say that the accounts of this are just lies, but you don’t know.

  • Miss_Beara

     Unwilling to perform abortions for fear of lawsuits and catholic church fear…

    But having a woman dead is perfectly fine. These people are sick.

    I hope this never happens in the US, even though the right is fighting tooth and nail for “personhood” while completely ignoring the real person in the situation.

  • Disgusted

    This is horrifying. This woman was young and healthy. She was a dentist, a wife and a daughter. Yet she was treated with less respect than a doomed fetus. She came to the hospital with a medical emergency and these “doctors” refused to give her the treatment that she badly needed. Can you imagine if they refused to treat a heart attack until the heart stopped beating or refused to remove a tumour because it was ‘alive’?

  • LifeinTraffic

    I just read the reason why some people believe it’s okay to sacrifice a mother’s life, as in this case, instead of giving her an abortion. I’d never read it put like this before:

    “The woman is an adult and has had the opportunity to be saved, so her death is less consequential than the death of one who never had the opportunity to be saved.
    (saved = accept Jesus Christ as savior) The mother will have everlasting life if she has accepted Christ, any life on this earth is inconsequential compared to this life. The baby will not get everlasting life unless it accepts Christ, or in some cases, is Christened. So the only hope for the baby is that the MDs are in error and the baby survives and accepts Christ.”
    Excuse me while I go throw up a little bit.

  • icecreamassassin

    It’s pretty easy actually.  The Catholic Church is anti-abortion, not pro-life.  They don’t give a f**king hoot about life (seeing as how it’s temporary and a drop in the ocean compared to eternity in the afterlife), just rules and regulations.  People don’t matter; labels do.

    Body count?  Zero, 1, 2, 3…doesn’t matter.  The *abortion* count was zero, and that’s apparently the important metric.

  • LesterBallard

    It must have have been two for one day in Heaven. Way to go, “god”.

  • von flue choke

    Just another person’s blood on the Catholic church’s hands.

  • Stev84

    Actually, according to current Catholic doctrine, there is a possibility that unbaptized babies go to heaven:

    In any case, the woman was Hindu, so according to the church they are probably both roasting in hell now.

  • Artor

    You need to work on your reading comprehension there, buddy. The script in your head is getting in the way of what’s actually being said.

  • Miss_Beara

    They don’t care. It was god’s will, after all! 


  • Miss_Beara


    That is sick and twisted. 

  • JRach

    There is no mention of whether an Ethics’ Board was involved in this decision or if it was the lone consultant.   I would like to know if it is usual to leave such ethical decisions to just one man.

    There is nothing in Catholic teaching that forbade the woman from receiving antibiotics and pain medication when she first arrived at the hospital.  Waiting till she collapsed before giving her antibiotics was inexcusable.  I am not a doctor but do know that the loss of amniotic fluid and dilation of the cervix offer a very probable chance of infection.  I think it would be routine to start her on antibiotics upon admission.    Even if the antibiotics posed a threat to a fetus when a miscarriage was not already in progress it would be permissible to administer them.

    It is true that direct abortion is never permitted.  It is permissible to treat a pregnant woman in order to save her life even if it results in the death of the fetus.  In this instance the woman was already going through a miscarriage and there was no possibility the fetus would survive.  Inducing labor at this point would have had the result of speeding up what was already happening naturally.  At this point there was no medical intervention that could have saved the life of the fetus.  Induction in order to remove the likely source of the sepsis is not the same as a direct abortion.   It would be a different matter if the fetus was not already dying and the mother did not have a life threatening infection.  In fact it would be negligent to not evacuate the uterus once a miscarriage had started since the chances of life threatening pregnancy from an incomplete miscarriage are very strong.  

    If the mother’s life was not threatened then it would be correct to wait for fetal death before induction.  But the mother was already septic and the fetus was already not going to live and a miscarriage was already starting.   All of these factors mean the principle of double effect applied and induction to hasten labor was permissible.

    So don’t blame the Catholic Church on one man’s misinterpretation of its teaching.

    I would also like to know if the hospital’s own protocols for infection control were followed.  

  • AxeGrrl

    Was this meant to be in response to me?

    If you look at the bottom of oneeye’s post you’re responding to, it says: “in reply to Stev84

    (just in case board preferences make the board look different to different people)

  • fergalf

    Reports must be read and considered. What else would you suggest? Bury it?

  • NickDB

     The report and changing the situation that caused this to arise are not linked. The situation should be changed no matter what the report says.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sandy-Kokch/100000074576649 Sandy Kokch

    I know that our secularist movement must accomodate all forms of thought and response to such atrocities as this, from your impartial journalistic approach, to Hemant’s moderated and reasoned method of reply…and sometimes even wit.

    But The Young Turks Cenk speaks for me…..


    Im glad I come from the UK, where these doctors would now be in jail and facing a long stretch in prison for manslaughter and medical malpractice, as well as sure never to practice medicine ever again for gross misconduct.

    Eire is a warning to the US who dally with such theocratic nonsense.

    Be warned!

  • fergalf

    Well it may or may not be related. They are the same topic after all. the details of her sad case have not being released.

  • LifeinTraffic

    Exactly. She was an adult, she’d “had a chance to accept Jesus,” so if she had done so, then her needlessly dying was totally fine, because she’d have “everlasting life” in some fantasy land. Since she was an adult who clearly hadn’t, her life was worthless anyway, especially compared to a fetus who might be “saved” should all the doctors be wrong.

    I hate these people.

  • Artor

    WTF? Where are you getting this shit? Seriously, get your head out of your ass. You were complaining that David was rushing to conclusions after he specifically said “Yes, of course we should wait for the results of the hospital inquiry.” I don’t know how you think anyone suggested burying any reports.
    Do you have a point to make, or are you just ranting against the arguments in your own head?

  • Barbara

    This poor woman. My heart goes out to the husband. The Catholic Church and its members should be (yet AGAIN) completely ashamed of themselves. Their asinine law killed a woman and left nothing but sorrow for her husband. Shame on religious laws that put women’s health last! 

  • fergalf

    It would preferable if the recommendations of the expert committee took on board the finding of what happened to Savita. Please spare me the abuse.

  • fergalf

     Its called waiting for due process.

  • The Other Weirdo

     A Catholic expert committee?

  • Artor

    Agreed. My apologies for the tone, but it seemed like you were being deliberately obtuse and putting words in other people’s mouths. That’s a big peeve of mine.

  • fergalf

    I don’t think you know the background of this at all. Its composed of members of the medical, legal and nursing profession, nothing to do with religion.

  • The Other Weirdo

    So why the shock and surprise? A couple of years ago, in Massachusetts,  a Catholic nun was excommunicated for ordering an abortion for a woman whose pregnancy was killing her. The patient survived in that case. The Bishop’s explanation for the excommunication was that, basically, yes, an innocent life(the woman) was on the line, but equally, we are all sinners.

    Didn’t we learn then, finally and for all time, that Catholicism is nothing more than a blood cult that cares nothing for life and only think about death? Can this be said of all Catholics, everywhere? Of course not. But it is also true that they willingly subordinate themselves to a religion that worships death.

  • fergalf

    If it seemed like that, I beg your pardon.

  • The Other Weirdo

     It’s a blood cult. Doesn’t everybody know this already?

  • Aureliano_Buendia

     What due process? Did the Irish courts not decide the issue two decades ago, while Irish politicians have not changed the laws to align with the ruling?

    If you mean waiting for this case in particular, I agree that no one should be prosecuted without evidence. That doesn’t change the fact that the laws should have been changed.

  • Stev84

    Yeah, but logically it didn’t follow anything I wrote, so I assumed too that something went wrong.

  • Stev84

     It’s called not wanting the church to look bad

  • Stev84

    Sure, this looks like some massive case of malpractice on the hospital’s end. But the Catholic Church is certainly to blame for creating the legal vacuum that led to this indecision. The Irish government has known for 20 years that they need to pass a law that clarifies that a woman can have an abortion to save her life. They did nothing. Or rather they refused to pass a law again and again. The last time in April. Because they are papists who fear Catholic backlash.

  • IndyFitz

    There absolutely was Catholic interference.  The laws that prevented doctors from aborting her fetus and saving her life are in place because of the Catholic church.  Without the threat of criminal prosecution under these laws, I’m sure a doctor would have aborted the fetus.  No doctor did.  That in itself is pretty shitty — allowing a woman to die in favor of a dying fetus, all because you don’t want to go to jail.  I’d do jail for the rest of my life if I could save someone’s life.

  • IndyFitz

    Funny how you seem to ignore obvious facts in favor of demanding firsthand knowledge.  None of us can have firsthand knowledge since we weren’t there.  But the facts are the facts, and there doesn’t seem to be any argument from those who were there: she was denied an abortion in favor of a dying fetus, and she died as a result.  There really isn’t any room for argument here.  If someone involved in the event comes forward and says, “No, the doctors were willing to perform the abortion, but the family declined,” that changes things.  Very little else would.

  • fergalf

    I am sure many doctors would also risk jail rather than let a patient die.  You don’t have the full story and nor do I. I am withholding judgment to the inquiry is done.

  • IndyFitz

    You mean like the family is now burying this dead woman, which the Catholic laws of the country made sure was the case? Your posts here make it sound as if you’re pro-life and anti-abortion, and possibly Catholic.  Are you these things?  Just curious about the context of your posts — whether you’re waving a flag for anti-abortion or Catholicism, or whether you’re just stirring things up in here. In case you are unfamiliar with the facts, Catholic laws resulted in this woman’s easily avoidable death.  Care to argue that point?  I’d love to hear.

  • fergalf

    The people involved are compelled not to give public statements while the inquiry is underway.

  • IndyFitz

    Well, I doubt there has been a bigger serial killer than organized religion! Religion has been the basis for more deaths than anything, from every war ever fought to overthrow an enemy because they don’t worship the same god as you to the Israelis and Palestinians killing each other over a bit of land each side believes is theirs by holy decree.

  • pagansister

     Perhaps her tragic death will not have been in vain.  Hopefully the powers that be in your beautiful country will listen to the protesters and more importantly—ACT to correct the situations that caused this!   Let us hope this won’t just make headlines for a few days/weeks and then be forgotten! 

  • fergalf

    Facts? How dare you use that word. We can only speculate on why it happened as only a few details by her husband has being released. All the obstetricians asked publicly on this case have refused to comment as details are not available yet.

  • Rose

     You do know Northern Ireland has more restrictions on abortion than the rest of the UK? Many women travel from Northern Ireland to England if they require  an abortion.

  • Stev84

     Still better than Ireland. Belfast has the only abortion clinic on the island.

  • S. Murphy

    Don’t know about Irish law, but it really wouldn’t have been againt Catholic bioethics to induce labor in order to save the mother than it is to remove an ectopic embryo – it’s a salvage operation.  When one life is lost, it’s not a problem to save the other.  Inducing would have caused (or at least hastened) the death of the fetus as a secondary effect, but that’s acceptable in Catholic moral theology.  From a Catholic point of view, this was horribly wrong.   

  • http://twitter.com/mywall mywall

     “The comments from abroad are a little patronising. ”

    Yah. There be a reason for that perhaps? Since you’re from the place tell us, why does your country hate on women? (There is no possible other explanation for the policy that lead to this death)

  • JRach

     This might interest you.  It appears that not only was this not an instance of Catholic teaching being followed but it also was in contradiction to standard Irish medical practice in such situations.   This is from Independent.IE.

    “The question that needs to be asked is: was Ms Halappanavar treated in
    line with existing obstetrical practice in Ireland? In this kind of
    situation the baby can be induced early (though is very unlikely to
    survive). The decision to induce labour early would be fully in
    compliance with the law and the current guidelines set out for doctors
    by the Irish Medical Council

    Those guidelines allow interventions to treat women where necessary,
    even if that treatment indirectly results in the death to the baby. If
    they aren’t being followed, laws about abortion won’t change that. 

    The issue then becomes about medical protocols being followed in
    hospitals and not about the absence of legal abortion in Ireland.

    Professor John Bonnar, then chairman of the Institute of Obstetricians
    and Gynaecologists, spoke about the matter to the All Party Oireachtas
    Committee’s Fifth Report on Abortion, saying: “In current obstetrical
    practice, rare complications can arise where therapeutic intervention is
    required at a stage in pregnancy when there will be little or no
    prospect for the survival of the baby, due to extreme immaturity.

    ”  ‘In these exceptional situations failure to intervene may result in the
    death of both the mother and baby. We consider that there is a
    fundamental difference between abortion carried out with the intention
    of taking the life of the baby, for example for social reasons, and the
    unavoidable death of the baby resulting from essential treatment to
    protect the life of the mother.’ ”

    Sativa should have been treated even when such treatment consisted of inducing labor. 

  • JRach

     Sorry for the double reply.   I want to emphasize that what Sativa requested was not an abortion.  Which is the deliberate killing of an preborn fetus.  In this case the fetus was beyond medical hope and a miscarriage was already in progress.   At this point there was only one patient which the doctors should have been concerned with and that was Sativa.  The fetus at this point had become from a medical standpoint tissue that was endangering the life of the mother.   Acting to remove that tissue was completely within Church guidelines.   There was no reason to wait for the absence of a fetal heart beat because there was no chance of the fetus surviving.

    The doctor screwed up. 

  • HeilMary1

    I hope all the mother-murdering, pedophile-serving clergy running RCC hospitals and malpracticing medicine without medical licenses get jailed for such “faith-based” crimes.  I’m so glad mother-saving Obama and Biden beat out mother-killers Romney and Ryan.

  • HeilMary1

    I hope those “doctors” and interfering pedophile priests go to jail for mother killing.

  • HeilMary1

    The RCC has recently toughened the rules — many RCC hospitals are now refusing to remove proven-dead fetuses  because “It’s against natural law to surgically interfere with incomplete miscarriages that don’t go into automatic labor.”  RCC hospitals are now forcing such mothers to die of untreated dead fetal decay.

  • HeilMary1

    Such murders are already regularly happening at US RCC hospitals and our fetal idolator politicians have gutted reporting laws so the public is clueless.

  • HeilMary1

    The child-raping, Nazi-saving RCC has recently changed its rules — early delivery of toxic non-viable fetuses, removing ALREADY dead and rotting fetuses, and administering maternal life-saving drugs are no longer allowed at RCC hospitals.

  • fergalf

     Day after day evidence is emerging that her death has little to do with religion. We all need to practise restrain and wait for corners verdict.

  • fergalf

     That clinic is only for the same life conditions as in the republic.

  • Cbug87

    You don’t need these things explained to you, but others on this site may appreciate the extra information.

  • kaydenpat

    This story should spur the Irish to legalize abortion.  The Catholic Church (and any other religious entity) should not have so much power over people’s lives that they can decide who lives and dies based on their dogma.

  • kaydenpat

    So in Ireland, you cannot get an abortion at all?  This is not limited to Catholic-run hospitals?  Wow.  Didn’t know Ireland was still so controlled by Catholicism.

  • kaydenpat

    How would Reilly know if there was no evidence of Catholic interference if an inquest has yet to be completed?  How is he jumping on a rash bandwagon to clear the Catholic church?

  • kaydenpat

    “Or do you take the extreme (and in a sane world, correct) step of performing a possibly unnecessary abortion which will result in some Pro-Life whack-a-doodle having you arrested for murder.”

    You do the right thing and save a woman’s life. Have some courage and challenge the dang law if it is unjust, which it certainly is.

  • fergalf

     He is privy to certain info as minister  which he can’t release. He also has the wisdom of being an doctor. He used the words ‘very unlikely’ to describe the idea of a catholic inference.

  • Sharon Ní Mhuircheartaigh

    There is another explanation for this policy, which David outlined above: the legislation surrounding abortion in Ireland is very confusing, and possibly non-existent. If you want, the cases in question are the X case of 1992, and the A,B,C cases of 2005. 
    Another factor at play is that Irish law is heavily influenced by Catholic doctrine, going back to the creation of our Constitution and other factors involved in the founding of the country. We have a lot of shit to wade through there, no mistake, including legacies like the Magdalene laundries and the horrible cases of symphisiotomies; among many others, like the Church scandals. Savita’s death is a horrible tragedy, and every care should be taken to investigate how the doctors, the hospital, the government could have let this happen. 

    However, your comment is exactly the type that David was railing against. Ireland does not ‘hate on women’. Neither do the Irish people. Women are well represented in politics, medicine, education– barring this past year, the president of my country has been a woman my entire life. Ireland is actually ranked 5th best country to live in as a woman.


    Don’t oversimplify what happened: it’s not a case of a Catholic hospital refusing to save a woman’s life (for starters, UHG isn’t a Catholic hospital, it’s a State hospital run by the HSE), or a country that oppresses women in the name of religion. If you listen to the Irish people, we’re reeling ourselves because we didn’t think this could happen in our country either. We need to ask why did the government ignore the Supreme Court, the EU courts, everyone telling them for the last 20 years that legislation needs to be put in place to prevent deaths like Savita’s?–why did the doctors prioritise the life of the foetus over the life of the mother, when there’s precedent against that course of action?–what can we do to prevent this from happening again?

    -Sharon Ní Mhuircheartaigh.

  • Manoj Joseph

    Fr. Paul Thelakat, spokesperson for the Synod of Bishops of the Syro-Malabar Church (an eastern rite and part of the Roman Catholic Church) actually says “Had the people
    concerned followed Catholic morality, Savita’s life could have perhaps
    been saved.”

    I say more about it here: