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‘This is a Catholic country': Woman dies of septicaemia after being refused an abortion in Irish hospital

Horribly sad. What if they were Muslim? I am sure Islam would come in for special scrutiny whereas here Catholicism has not, though there has been some discussion of it, which must have been unavoidable considering the doctor’s statement that “this is a Catholic country.”

In most media reports it’s being treated as a legal issue and nothing to do with the possible religiously influenced rules regarding abortion.  (h/t: Sarah for alerting us to this story first)

‘This is a Catholic country': Woman dies of septicaemia after being refused an abortion in Irish hospital

The death in Ireland of a woman whose repeated requests for an abortion were turned down – reportedly because “this is a Catholic country” – has sparked international protests and condemnation.

In Dublin more than a thousand people staged a demonstration outside the Irish parliament amid calls for an independent inquiry into the death.

Savita Halappanavar, a dentist of Indian origin, died in a hospital in Galway city last month from complications when a termination of her pregnancy was delayed after she had been miscarrying for several days. She was 27.

In a series of poignant radio interviews her husband Praveen said he had no doubt his wife Savita would still be alive if the procedure had been carried out earlier, as she had requested.

The case has drawn attention in the starkest and most tragic way to the state of Ireland’s abortion laws, which have a notorious lack of clarity. Particularly tight restrictions on abortion lead thousands of Irishwomen to travel to Britain each year for terminations.

But attempts over decades to liberalise the law, or to clarify it, have not been successful.

The government, which has been considering changes to the laws, has said two internal investigations are being held into the death of Mrs Halappanavar. But it is resisting calls for an independent inquiry.

Speaking from India, Mr Halappanavar said he and his wife had been on top of the world to be expecting a baby, but she had gone to Galway University hospital with back pains. She was found to be miscarrying and was admitted to hospital.

She asked for a termination because she was in agony, but this was refused.

He went on: “A doctor said it was the law – that this is a Catholic country. Savita said, `I am neither Irish not Catholic’ but they said there was nothing they could do.”

He said the doctor said that the baby would not survive, but that as long as there was a foetal heartbeat “there was nothing they could do.” Three days followed, he added, in which the heartbeak was checked several times a day.

His wife’s condition deteriorated until, he said: “The nurse came running. She just told me to be brave and she took me near Savita and said, `Will you be OK to be there during her last few minutes?’ I said yes.

“It was all in their hands and they just let her go. How can you let a young woman go to save a baby who will die anyway? Savita could have had more babies.

“What is the use in being angry? I’ve lost her. I am talking about this because it shouldn’t happen to anyone else. It has been very hard to understand how this can happen in the 21st century.”

The cause of her death was given as septicaemia and e-coli.

Read the rest…

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  • Muhammad al-Hakeem

    In Islam, abortion is allowed when the mother’s life is jeopardized, even if up to the last minute – after ensoulment – for the mother is the pillar of the family and has many responsibilities, unlike the fetus that is dying anyway.

  • truth

    Am also against abortion but since she is miscarrying it I see no reason the abortion should not be done for her. Anyway I see it as wickedness.

  • Garibaldi


    Usually speaking in absolutes is not helpful, especially when it comes to law, religious law on top of that.

    I recall a point being made about how astonishing it is that Muslims in the West have acquired the conservative Christian stance on when the soul enters the fetus, when in fact this has been a point of contention for some time amongst the learned scholars of religious law. If you look at pre-modern manuals of fiqh you will note that some allow for abortion up to 120 days based on their understanding of when the soul enters the fetus.

    In such a clear cut case when the mother is already miscarrying I don’t think there is much controversy.

  • kyle

    It actually depends in countries where abortion is totally legal. Some people (namely young women of university age)want to have abortion essentially as a form of birth control. At least, this is how it seems- little sandra flukes running around screeching about the “patriarchy” and “feminism” when the truth is they just want to drop their knickers and not have to worry about responsibility. Strictly limited to white “liberal” girls, you understand.

  • Xithurel

    Thanks for the correction. Still as we can clearly see they do hold a significant amount of influence that really has no business being in politics – much less in the lives of people who don’t want religion in government.

  • CriticalDragon1177


    I have to correct you on something. The pope commands Catholics not Christians in general. Protestantism began with Martin Luther who rejected Papal authority out right. Protestants to this day reject the authority of the pope. Also before that the Eastern Orthodox Church split from the Roman Catholic Church and one of the reasons was their rejection of the pope.

  • Anon

    Actually, in Islam abortion is allowed if the birth would harm the mother, even if the baby will live.

  • Xithurel

    The Vatican never stopped being the source of conflict; it commands the christians to this day.

  • Senor

    My condolences to her and her family. I am wondering, though, whether or not she would be allowed to have an abortion in a Muslim country. In Islam, abortion is unacceptable except in cases of rape or incest. Since this was neither, would she have died in a Muslim country as well?

  • CriticalDragon1177


    What you said, is not entirely true. You maybe correct about anti abortion laws, but in some cases we have to criminalize human behavior. Technically we have and must criminalize certain behaviors, such as theft, rape and murder. In some cases its not only productive, but necessary if civilization is to survive. You probably wouldn’t include those things, in the category of actions that should be legal, but I think you worded your last sentence rather poorly.

  • CriticalDragon1177


    Good point. Practically all the pro life movements arguments (even assuming they’re correct) go out the window, assuming the unborn will die regardless and its either they both die, or the just the fetus dies and the mother lives. Even if the unborn are people, it would just mean that two people would die, instead of one, and it wouldn’t even be a choice between him/her and the mother. The only argument that I can imagine they come up with, was if they were really incredibly sick misogynistic individuals and they thought the mother deserved to die for the some sexual sin, or equally sick and misogynistic, they believed she deserved to die for wanting to save her own life, when it meant terminating the pregnancy.

  • Jack

    The irony of anti-abortion laws is of course, that abortion rates are actually lower in countries which have laws allowing for professional doctors terminating pregnancies.

    This can be explained through the fact that countries which have liberal abortion laws also foster a culture of contraception and education in schools about the ins and outs of sex (yes, I recognize the pun there), pregnancies, venerial diseases and prophylactics.

    Whereas countries which have bans on abortion usually also have puritanical mores when it comes to sexual activity in general, along with it’s taboos. It’s not that people don’t engage in promiscuity, it’s that they try to sweep it under the rug, which results in lower use of contraceptives and a higher rate of misconceptions about sex and what can get you pregnant.

    And it’s not as if women with unwanted pregnancies don’t try to abort them because professional medical help in doing so is not legally available: they then turn to back alley abortionists, injecting chemical solutions inside their uterus, or methods like jabbing the fetus to death with objects like knitting needles.

    People do what people will do… The whole notion of criminalizing human behavior is criminally counterproductive.

  • mindy1

    This was such a sad case, why would they care about a three month old fetus who would not even survive:'(

  • Reynardine

    What Dragon has said is utterly correct, and what we’re talking about is not Catholics. We’re talking about the kind of cruel Calvinists who desire more fervently to kill a woman than to save a baby, who is, after all, “the fruit of her sin”.

  • CriticalDragon1177

    Don’t forget, there are many who would support legislation similar to what they have in Ireland here in the states.

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