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A woman in Ireland has died because doctors refused to treat her miscarriage.

Savita Halappanavar didn’t come to the hospital for an abortion; she was experiencing a miscarriage. Doctors had told her the baby would not survive.

Then, several times in the three days while she miscarried in extreme pain, they told her they couldn’t take any further steps to end the pregnancy.  They had to let the miscarriage happen in its own time, no matter how badly it hurt her.

With her cervix fully dilated for so long, the woman was very susceptible to infection, and she died a week after entering the hospital.

Yet by law in Ireland a woman has the right to an abortion if her life is in danger.  How did this happen?  From Salon:

…in a chilling climate where religious belief takes precedent over women’s health, where any choice to abort can be challenged and punished, whose interests are doctors going to protect?

When abortion is stigmatized and condemned without context, when anti-abortion activists elevate the needs and rights of the fetus over those of the woman and make their personal religious beliefs into law, we end up with a chain of events where, for no reason any person with a shred of humanity can fathom, a woman is left to die because doctors can still detect a heartbeat in a fetus they already knew wouldn’t survive.  A woman’s life was sacrificed so that a pregnancy that everyone knew was doomed could go on for an additional three days.

Perhaps in a less “pro-life” culture globally, women would be trusted to make their own decisions about pregnancy.  Then, 21.6 million women around the world wouldn’t face injury and death each year.  Doctors wouldn’t face harassment and violence when they attempt to perform legal medical procedures (nor women when they seek them).  Women wouldn’t listen in astonishment as each day a new politician weighs in that a pregnancy from rape is a gift from God that also doesn’t actually happen  but either way certainly can’t be aborted.

Perhaps in a less “pro-life” culture, Savita Halappanavar would still be alive.


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