Sifting the Lies for Truth: More on What May Have Happened to Savita Halappanavar

The following excerpt is taken from MercatorNet. I’m posting it with some trepidation, since it contains allegations in what has become a political tug of war.

My advice is to not take this article or any other article about what happened to Ms Halappanavar too literally. There are too many people with agendas who have access to the press to make sense of the claims and counter-claims. That said, I will say that the kind of collusion between the press and abortion advocates described in this article has happened here in this country and has resulted in the public being deliberately manipulated and misinformed. The attack on Komen Breast Institute when it tried to stop funding Planned Parenthood is a recent example.

I sincerely hope that the net result from Ms Halappanavar’s death will be clarification of the legal situation concerning abortion in Ireland at whatever level that needs to be done. I also hope that those who want to use her death as a pry bar to open the doorway to abortion on demand in Ireland fail in their work.

The MercatorNet article says in part:

What we do know is that on October 21 Savita Halappanavar, a 31-year-old dentist, visited Galway University Hospital suffering from back pain. She was 17 weeks pregnant. She was diagnosed and was told that she was having a miscarriage. She requested a termination – but, as they had diagnosed, the termination had already begun naturally.

Irish law – and the Irish Constitution – prohibits the procedure of abortion of unborn babies in the womb but it does not prohibit evacuation of the womb where the process of a miscarriage has already begun – or where a baby in the womb has already died. Such procedures are regularly carried out in Irish hospitals. Miscarriage can, however, be wrongly diagnosed and surgical evacuation offered when the baby is still alive and healthy, as Breda O’Brien noted in an Irish Times op-ed last Saturday. One such case prompted an official inquiry two years ago in which 24 similar cases were examined.

In Savita’s case surgical intervention is evidently what should have happened. It did not. Her pain continued for three days and she eventually died of septicaemia. Two investigations are now in progress as to why she died – one by the hospital itself and one by the Irish health authority.

What has been widely reported is that doctors denied her request “for an abortion” because they said that they detected a foetal heartbeat and that Irish law ruled out a termination. Further reports say someone told Savita that this was because “Ireland is a Catholic country”. That such reasons would have been given for delaying the inducement is considered extraordinary by medical and non-medical Irish people alike. But they are equally dismayed by what they see as the callous manipulation of this situation by the abortion advocates before even the most basic investigation of the facts is carried out.

The manipulation of the situation is seen by many to be blatant and premeditated. The Irish Times, which has been campaigning for changes to Irish law on abortion for many years, had this story for some days before publishing it. Within hours of the story breaking a large demonstration by pro-choice activists had assembled outside the Irish parliament building. An email has now been leaked – the source as yet unknown – showing that news of the story was given in advance to these activists. The e-mail, dated Sunday, November 11, indicates that the Irish Choice Network knew the story was going to break. The Irish Times did not break the story publicly until November 14th.

The email told ICN members that “a major news story in relation to abortion access is going to break in the media early this coming week,” and it would be the pretext for a protest calling for abortion legislation outside the Dáil (Ireland’s parliament) on Wednesday. Members were asked to attend a meeting where they would have “more definite information around which we can make some collective decisions about how best to proceed.” (Read more here.)

  • Bill S

    Every country is perfectly capable of promulgating laws and regulations that are entirely free of religious bias. Why Ireland is so backwards that it bases its laws on the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church is beyond all reason and logic. Ireland doesn’t have to re-invent the wheel. All they have to do is look at the laws of more advanced civilizations. There is no excuse for the legal dilemma caused by antiquated laws that resulted in Savita’s death. Pro-choice advocates have every right to use this atrocity to rally enough support to drag their backwards country into the 21st century. Savita’s death should not be in vain.

  • Marina

    Dear Rebecca, I noticed how you were struck by the legal situation in Ireland. You come from a part of the world far from Europe; so did Savita Halappanavar.

    I wonder, are you aware that Irish governments have been dragging their feet for at least 20 years? They have legislated neither for the 1992 Supreme Court judgment in the ‘X case’, nor for the 2010 European Court of Human Rights judgment in A, B and C v. Ireland. Instead, two constitutional referenda were held to outlaw the grounds for the 1992 Supreme Court judgment. They were both defeated.

    I appreciate that you don’t favour an abortion on request regime. I expect you can appreciate that what the anti-abortion crowds in Ireland don’t favour is precisely any ‘clarification of the legal situation concerning abortion in Ireland at whatever level that needs to be done’.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      I’m going to wait for a while before I say much more on this Marina. I find the whole thing confusing. I do believe that there are agendas at work in this whole discussion, which is one reason why I am so slow to take a position. I can’t make sense of what people are saying.

  • http://N/A Tim Donovan

    With respect, it’s biology, not theology, that confirms that a new human being begins life at fertilization. Even Planned Parenthood, in a 1963 pamphlet, “Plan Your Children for Health and Happpiness,” stated that “an abortion kills the life of a baby after it has begun.” Many scientific advances have been made since then, but biology remains the same. People of many-and no faiths- oppose legal abortion-on-demand. These include the Catholic Church, the Lutheran Church Missouri-Synod, Christian Orthodox Churches, most Orthodox Jewish congregations, most evangelical churches, and individual members of mainline Protestant Churches that are otherwise “pro-choice.”Even journalist Nat Hentoff, a self-described Jewish atheist and former NY State Board Member of the ACLU, opposes legal abortion-on-demand. It’s a little known fact, but Rev. Martin Luther King, leader of the commendable civil rights movement, was against legal abortion (though he supported legal contraception, as I do). This has been confirmed by his niece, Rev. Alveda King, a woman who has had, and regretted, two abortions). It’s tragic that in the past some U.S. women used to die from illegal abortions. But consider these remarks of the late Dr. BernardNathanson. During his life, he performed 5,000 abortions, and was co-founder of what’s now “NARAL Pro-Choice America.” While an atheist (though he eventually became a Christian) he wrote the 1979 book, “Aborting America.” He stated that he and his fellow pro-choice activists deliberately, falsely, and grossly exaggeratted such maternal deaths. Thousands of Americans die annually from cocaine and heroin overdoses. Would it be wise to legalize these drugs? Planned Parenthood (PP) does some good (HIV and cancer screenings, contraception), Yet, according to their 2010 Annual report, PP performed 325,000 abortions (more than a quarter of our nations total), referred only 841 women for adoption, and provided only 31,000 women with prenatal care, out of their millions of clients, with massive governement funding and support from many wealthy foundations. Some 3000 pro-life agencies provide women and their developing babies with compassionte care, often both before and after birth. In my experience as a volunteer non-profesional counselor, most such groups are staffed by women, and receive little or no government funding. I might add that, as long reported in The Washington Post, Chinese women who violate their one-child policy are coerced into having late-term abortions, and their families face draconian fines and their husbands are beaten if they refuse. When this practice came to light in the 1980′s, Faye Wattleton, PP’s former President, said that while PP didn’t favor coerced abortions, they wouldn’t condemn the brutual Chinese policy, since their government felt it was “appropriate.” Ironic that an organization that proclaims respect for women would condone their mistreatment at the hands of foreign governments. The Catholic Church isn’t perfect-but what church or individual is? The Church, like most churches, provides material and spiritual assistance to hundreds of millions of people worldwide,through their networks of schools, hospitals, homeless shelters, substance abusers, victims of human trafficking (when women and children are forced into prostitution) the disabled, refugees, the dying , and victims of natural disaters and AIDS.President Obama’s Affordable Health Care Act has the laudable provision of requiring employers to provide employees with health benefits. But despite Obama’s denials, it would force Catholic and other religious hospitlas to dispense abortion drugs. According to a 6/16/12 AP report, one out of six Americans receive healthcare form Catholic hospitals. When these hospitals close-and sadly, they will-only misery will result. Remaining hospitals will be overwhlemed by patients. Finally, with respect, it’s a myth that theres’s an absolute wall of church/state separation. The abolitionists were largley motivated by moral principles, and their beliefs were enshrined into our Constitution, even though many at that time were opposed to them. Both liberal Rev. Al Sharpton and conservative Rev. Pat Robertson have run for President. When Rev. Jesse Jackson ran for President in 1984, he preached in churches, and collection plates were passed to collect funds for his campaigns. My former Congressman, Bob Edgar (PA) is a Methoduist minister. During a failed 1990 Senate run, he preached from ther pulpit soliciting votes. The Peace Center of Delco, PA, which is involved in partisan politics, is located in a Quaker Meeting House. Mrs. Obams recently spoke before an audience of black pastors. She sid words to the effect that Sunday shouldn’t be the only time to discuss moral issues, but that such issues should be carried into the politicvial sphere. I feel that either all-or no- clergy shoule have the right to speak out on moral/political issues in a civil manner, as long as they don’t explicitly endorse cadsistaes for office. Respectfully. Tim Donovan Folsom PA

  • Joyce M

    The real question is why was surgery not offered, or if it was offered why was it not done?

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Actually, Joyce, I think the real question at this point is “What happened?”

  • Dr. Peter John Resweber
    • Bill S

      “After her initial article in the Irish Times on November 14th, Holland three days later wrote in the Observer the disclaimer, “The fact that Savita had been refused a termination was a factor in her death has yet to be established”. ”

      Does that even matter? It would only be by “dumb luck” for the hospital that it would not be a factor. The fact is that the conditions for a catastrophe were in place because of bad laws. Letting someone suffer for three days is inexcuseable.

      • Rebecca Hamilton

        Well, yes, it matters, but in what way I can’t say yet. That’s the problem with all this Bill. It’s impossible to know what happened here with any certainty, and I’m talking about something as simple as the chain of events. As to the medical situation — that’s entirely opaque at this point.
        The first reason why it matters is that it is impossible to draw conclusions without an understanding of these things.

  • Dr. Peter John Resweber

    Truth matters.

    • Marina

      Is it true that it’s the responsibility of the patient to identify and request the appropriate life-saving treatment?

      • Dr. Peter John Resweber

        I could ask you some questions:

        a) Is it true that an abortion would have saved her life?

        b) Is it even true that an abortion was medically indicated?

        c) Is it true that she was denied a life saving abortion?

        So far this case has been reported and commented upon as if each of the preceding were demonstrably true.

        But have ANY of them actually been established as fact?

        If not, why the rush to change laws that have not yet been demonstrated to have caused any harm?

        • Bill S

          I suppose it would be like going through an emergency drill and seeing where the system fails. Even if she would have died anyway, the fact of the matter was that an abortion was requested in the hopes of saving the mother and it was flatly denied. Why not fix the problem anyway. Why wait for a real emergency. I feel like saying the the pro-lifers:”you know, you’re not going to be satisfied that things have to change until somebody gets killed. Somebody that has a dentist practice, husband, family, and everything to live for.”

          • Sus

            Bill, without being there or seeing accurate medical records, we shouldn’t assume. Even if she asked for an abortion, it may not have been medically safe to give her one at that time. Now that this woman’s life has turned into political folly by the Pro-Choice and Pro-Life movements, I think it’s likely we’ll never know what happened.

          • Dr. Peter John Resweber

            Bill S writes: “the fact of the matter was that an abortion was requested in the hopes of saving the mother and it was flatly denied”.

            Uhm, not so fast.

            If you bothered to READ the attached article instead of just immediately attacking it, you would have discovered that what you just called “FACT” may not be.

        • Marina

          Dr Resweber, whether an abortion was indicated in Mrs Halappanavar’s circumstances is the all-important question. There are two enquiries seeking to establish the answer to that. Whether an abortion is life-saving or not does not depend on whether a patient requests it.

          There’s a Supreme Court decision going back to 1992 which mandates legislation not yet enacted. Is there a minimum number of deaths which have to be documented before court decisions become binding?

          • Dr. Peter John Resweber

            Re: “Dr Resweber, whether an abortion was indicated in Mrs Halappanavar’s circumstances is the all-important question.”


            Re: “There are two enquiries seeking to establish the answer to that.”

            Even then we may not learn all the facts. And yet so many are rushing to act as if the facts were already known and undisputed. Why?

            Re: “Whether an abortion is life-saving or not does not depend on whether a patient requests it.”

            Who said it did?
            Just because you twist an implication to your rhetorical advantage does not make it equivalent with my statements.

            • Marina

              Dr Resweber, if you agree that in a case of negligence/malpractice it’s no excuse to claim that the patient failed to explicitly request the required treatment, what is the significance of whether the patient requested the treatment or not?

              Talking of ‘rushing to act’ in closing a legal gap with a 20-year history sounds absurd: It is a fact that legislation is pending since 1992.

              • Dr. Peter John Resweber

                Among other things, the primary significance is that it raises questions about the veracity of the rest of the “known facts” surrounding this case.

                • Marina

                  Indeed, Mrs Halappanavar may have reincarnated already.

                  • Dr. Peter John Resweber

                    Shark Jumping?

                    • Marina

                      What? I guess you’re not a Hindu – unlike Mrs Halappanavar.

                      If you’re looking for facts Dr Resweber, how about a 20-year failure to legislate? This lady’s death may or may not be causally linked to the failure, but the failure remains. Ireland was condemned by the ECHR two years ago for this, in connection with another case. Why aren’t these facts sufficient for you and why should anyone’s death precede fixing long-standing legal loopholes, which have already been found to be in violation of human rights?

  • Bill S

    One thing that everyone can agree on is that in a future similar emergency, the system will not work under the current laws. The need for a change is obvious.

    • Dr. Peter John Resweber

      FWIW: Stating something as fact does not make it fact.

      • Bill S

        So, what do you think the Irish should do? Just hang in there with their archaic laws and hospital operating procedures. What if the hospital wants to change its operating procedures but fears that any procedures they write will put them at risk of intentionally violating the law? What if the lawmakers are devout Catholics or fear the Church or the Catholic population and are unable to make any needed changes. So is the preferred alternative to do nothing and hope a situation like this does not reoccur? You’re a doctor. What do you think should be done?

  • Dr. Peter John Resweber

    Re: “So is the preferred alternative to do nothing and hope a situation like this does not reoccur?”

    At the risk of sounding sarcastic or dim-witted: A situation like what? What actual facts are you privy to that the rest of us don’t have. It seems that nobody yet knows what actually happened.

    Re: What do you think should be done?

    Find out what actually happened. Make laws based on reality. Don’t make laws based upon a mob mentality which seems to be calling for the overturn of all abortion restrictions.

    • Bill S

      “A situation like what?”

      Either what happened or what could have happened. When they investigate this, they should examine both the details of what actually happened. As an aside, they also should look at a worse case scenario as to what could of happened, what might have happened that they can’t confirm 100%, and what could happen in the future. They need emergency planning regardless of what actually happened (which is only a concern as to the liablities should there be a lawsuit).

      Based on what might of happened, what could have happened and what could happen in the future, Ireland has got to allow abortions just like every other member of the EC, most Asian countries, most of Australia, the United States, etc.

  • Dr. Peter John Resweber

    So basically your contention is that Ireland must allow abortions no matter what?

    Well, it’s good that we got that clarity, eh?

  • Bill S

    “So basically your contention is that Ireland must allow abortions no matter what?”

    That is basically my stand. I believe that the only rational outcome for Ireland’s situation is a law that provides for abortion on demand. That would put them in good standing with the European Community that has been on its case for human rights violation. This latest incident could very well be a human rights violation. Something like this should never happen again.

    • Dr. Peter John Resweber

      In one of our earlier discussions, you defined “rational” as “using reason and logic, as opposed to dogma and superstition”.

      In practice however, it seems your definition of rational is rather more fluid, for now the only “rational outcome” is the one that proceeds regardless of facts or data.

      “Damn the reason and logic, just do what I say”?

      Has the practical definition of “rational” devolved to simply “what Bill S wants”?

  • Bill S

    Bill S wants people to use reason and logic and not rely on dogma and superstition. Yes, rational is what Bill S wants.

    Can’t you see what a basket case Ireland is in this regard? If it wasn’t such a serious issue, it would be laughable.

  • Dr. Peter John Resweber

    So why are you embracing the “dogma and superstition” that abortion on demand is unquestionably good for women, good for society and good for a country?

    It is so simply because Bill S says it is so?

    “Rational” no longer has any objective standard beyond your personal fiat?

    Do you even realize what a caricature your argumentation is becoming? :(

    It seems you haven’t completely abandoned the notion of infallibility.

    You’ve only usurped that authority to yourself.

  • Dr. Peter John Resweber

    Actually that isn’t quite fair.

    In the simplest terms possible, the doctrine of infallibility isn’t that something is true “because I say so”. It’s more like, I will be prevented from saying that which isn’t so (truth remains an objective fact and God ensures that my proclamations are made to conform to it).

    As such, you are essentially embracing a “dogma and superstition” even MORE audacious than the idea of papal infallibility.

  • Bill S

    Rebecca’s blog is all about stating opinions. If you find me stating opinions as if they are facts, just ignore the way I have stated those opinions. For example, if I say there is no such thing as infallibility, understand that I am saying that I believe there is no such thing as infallibility.

    So, I believe that abortion on demand should be made available to women in Ireland as it is available in the United States and in every other member country of the EC. I state this opinion based on logic and reason and not on dogma and superstition.

  • Dr. Peter John Resweber

    If you were using logic and reason you would be interested in the actual results of your proposition.

    Abortion hurts women.

    Abortion destroys relationships.

    Abortion hollows out a culture.

    I could go on; but, the point is obvious.

    It is neither logical nor reasonable to support expanding abortion on demand.

  • Dr. Peter John Resweber

    The bottom Line, Bill, is that your position (at least as stated thus far) simply doesn’t hold water.

    You repeatedly suggest that “logic and reason” compel you to support expanded “abortion on demand” but then you offer no rational (aka: logical or reasonable) support for that position.

    You actually go further and say that it would be your opinion “no matter what” (a completely illogical and unreasonable expression suggestion that you would support the notion even if it could be demonstrated to be contrary to logic and reason).

    You seem to have an irrational devotion to the notion of calling yourself “rational” but no ability to demonstrate actual rationality on this issue (again and in fairness – at least as demonstrated thus far– reason compels me to reserve the theoretical possibility that you actually do have rational reasons; but, that you have thus far simply failed to share them).

    • Dr. Peter John Resweber

      Errata (grammar/typing fail):
      In the previous post, the word ‘suggesting’ was meant rather than ‘suggestion’.
      Apologies for any resultant lack of clarity.

  • Bill S

    What if I told you that when I discuss abortion, I speak from personal experience? What if I told you that, when I was 20, I got an 18-year-old girl pregnant, and that she, without my knowledge or consent and with the assistance and probably at the insistence of her mother, went from Massachusetts to New York to have an abortion?

    What if I told you that, as a Catholic my whole life, I have dealt with the guilt of that event for 40 years? What if I told you that I have long since, well not that long since, concluded that such guilt was unwarranted?

    I am as much for abortion on demand as you are against it. I feel bad only for the girl who I left before knowing of her situation. I feel no regret for the loss of a child. That child was only 10 weeks old by your reckoning and knew nothing at all about life. I no longer believe the concept of a soul. You develop as a person from your life experiences. If you have had no life experiences you are not a person. You are a potential person. I must sound like a terrible person to you but trust me I am not. I just care more about women’s rights than children’s rights. And I only call them children to be consistent with your terminology.

    • Dr. Peter John Resweber

      Now we’re getting somewhere.

      I am sorry for your pain. I am sorry it lasted so long. I am sorry it continues.

      Now, let me tell you about the lady who couldn’t get over her guilt until she finally met someone who stopped lying to her and telling her she hadn’t killed her child. Let me tell you about the geriatric patient who saw me at a quite advanced age and was also still tormented by guilt from an abortion in her twenties. Once she opened up and shared her true feelings, she admitted that she felt tremendous guilt and that she was convinced that she was going to hell with no hope of redemption.

      Let me tell you how that woman had seen a string of therapists who tried their best but couldn’t help her. A string of therapists had told her (essentially) that she hadn’t killed a baby and that in any case she wasn’t going to hell (and that there probably wasn’t a hell anyway).

      She felt betrayed. After all, how could she trust their assurances when they started out by lying to her? She knew she had a baby and then the baby was dead. If they couldn’t even be truthful about that..?

      At first, mostly I just listened. She was carrying decades of fear and hurt and had shut down so many times. But then, we talked about what happened and how she had felt at the time. I acknowledged the tragedy and the death and in so doing gained tremendous credibility in her eyes (a credibility she could not invest in those who would so blatantly lie to her).

      Next we talked about the possibility of hell and (as gently as I possibly could) I acknowledged that ending up in hell remained a real possibility. But then, I immediately paired that acknowledgment with the reality of a loving and a forgiving God. I reminded her of her obvious pain and remorse. Next, I reminded her that God already knows. God forgives. I gave her hope. She recovered.

      Bill, you’re still lying to yourself in the hope that it will make you feel better.

      I truly understand; but, the lies are not really working for you, are they?

      To keep the lie you would even condemn others to sharing your pain.

      To maintain the lie you have had to accept lie after lie after lie.

      Bill, the lies have obviously not brought you real peace.

      God knows. God forgives. God wants you back.

      Find peace.

      • Dr. Peter John Resweber


        Bill, I wrote all that and still forgot to address one very important topic.

        You wrote (almost in passing) that “I must sound like a terrible person to you”.


        You are more than your past mistakes or even your current actions.

        Terribly hurting? Yes.
        Terribly deceived? Yes.
        Advancing terrible ideas? Absolutely.

        Terrible? No.

  • Bill S

    Thank you. I understand what you are saying.

    Either you commit a damnable sin and are forgiven by an all-loving God or there is no such thing as sin (which I believe is from the Greek or Latin word for “mistake” according to one psychologist I saw who said sarcastically “so you got a girl pregnant. And you did this all by yourself”). In which case you do not need any forgiveness from any God.

    I have to think about this one for a while. Feel free to respond but don’t expect a counter response from me for a while.

  • Dr. Peter John Resweber

    Pretty close to exactly right.

    For better or worse, it is often not appropriate to bring up faith in a therapy setting. When confronting guilt, though, I often present things somewhat as follows:

    “You know there are really two approaches to crippling or inappropriate guilt. The problem is that each of them only applies to certain situations and you are handicapped if you only know one. Too many people apply one or the other indiscriminately and can’t fully assist.

    “One fully valid approach is to recognize where there was no actual fault. This is often hard for people (especially when they can conceive of how a bad thing would happen without “bad” people). But accidents DO happen. Mistakes DO happen. And if there was no evil action or intent leading to the bad outcome, your job is to recognize your lack of culpability. In such a case “forgiveness” is inappropriate as it only applies to wrongdoing.

    “On the other hand, sometimes you have actually done something wrong and you know it. In that case “trying to explain it away” feels like a lie (because it is). In that case you have to figure out how to forgive yourself. And forgiveness isn’t pretending it’s okay or pretending it doesn’t matter. In the end, forgiveness means simply that you acknowledge the wrongdoing BUT that you also acknowledge continuing to incessantly punish yourself over that wrongdoing serves no useful purpose. In that case, you job is to free up the energy you’ve been investing in telling yourself how rotten you are so that you can reinvest your energy in caring for others.”


    I know you have a lot to think about (and I’m not looking for a response).
    I hope the exploration is fruitful.

    I hope you can forgive yourself and you can let God forgive you.

    After a long time away, I hope you can have the first (of many)
    truly happy and holy Christmas seasons this year.

    As Peg mentioned, I think a lot of people will be holding you up in prayer.

    Take care and be good to yourself.

    “Doc” Pete

    • Dr. Peter John Resweber

      Again, sorry for the typos — but I wanted to get that message up there (and rushed a little too much).

      Hopefully the points came through despite the errors.

  • Bill S

    Yep. They did. Thank you.