“Pro Life” = Preventable death.

I’ve long been of the opinion that “Pro Life” and “Pro Choice” are entirely inaccurate labels for the positions they purport to describe. In fact, the suspicious bastard that lurks very close to the surface of my mind thinks that both labels were probably invented by those who want to deny women reproductive rights. Think about it. “Choice” versus “life”? Which one sounds like it should have priority? Exactly. Hence my extreme distaste for both labels; I really believe that facile people (and the world is chock full of facile people) who only look at the headlines and never read the content are easily swayed by such school debate society tactics.

Anyway, moving this post forward.

It’s time for another one of those stories which religious anti reproductive rights people have two possible responses to: Ignore it or reveal how disgusting and immoral their position really is.

Savita Halappanavar was a 31 year old Indian emigre, living in Ireland. She was a dentist, a medical professional. And she was seventeen weeks pregnant when she died.

Savita presented to a University Hospital Galway on October 21st with severe back pain. Her doctors quickly established that she was having a miscarriage; her cervix was fully dilated, her amniotic sac had broken, and the foetus was dying.

Dying. Not dead.

Even though doctors knew that the foetus would not survive, and even though Savita (a woman with a medical degree who knew exactly what she was asking for) requested it, they refused to terminate the pregnancy artificially. Instead, they made her lay in bed in severe pain for two days, leaking body fluids with her cervix open. For non medical folks, in terms of risk that pretty much translates as opening a gaping wound in your flesh down to the bone and leaving it uncovered in a large building full of sick people. For two full days.

The justification offered by Savita’s doctors? “This is a Catholic country”. The foetus still had a heartbeat. Therefore they would not end the pregnancy, because that would “kill” the foetus. The foetus which was dying anyway.

Would anybody care to take a guess what happened next? Savita, having been exposed to a huge risk of infection by her religiously motivated doctors, got an infection. In fact, she got sepsis, went to intensive care, and eventually died on the 28th of October.

Cases like this are the ones that the religious right, reproductive rights deniers want to pretend don’t exist. And that means that cases like this are that ones that we should be screaming from the rooftops, shoving in their sanctimonious faces and ramming down their ignorant, judgmental throats.

What’s grinding my gears in this particular case is that University Hospital Galway is now under investigation by the Irish authorities for the events leading to Savita’s death. The reason that grinds my gears is that if the investigation is honest, it can only draw one conclusion: The doctors and the hospital acted in accordance with Irish law. I’m hopeful that it will be a catalyst for a change in that law, but realistically I think it’s far more likely that the Irish government will try to scapegoat either a doctor or the hospital, so that they can pretend that there is no problem.

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