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By Hannah Le
Nov 19, 2012
On Saturday, over 10,000 people bombarded the streets of Dublin, yelling and waving signs into the air that say, “Never again!” They were consumed with rage and devastation, and with hopes of possible change. The protesters and their fervent cries has even caused the Irish Government to possibly re-examine their abortion policies. And what was the cause for this reaction?
Her name was Savita Halappanavar. She was a 31 year old dentist. And her husband was Praveen, a 34 year old engineer. She was 17 weeks pregnant but went to the hospital because she had back pain on October 21st. That’s when she found out she was miscarrying. According to The Irish Times, this was what Mr. Praveen Halappanavar had said:
“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 begged for almost three days that her pregnancy be terminated. But the fetal heartbeat was still present and that the procedure to treat the miscarriage should wait, even though the fetus was declared non-viable. Savita spent the next few days in agonizing pain, still begging for an abortion but her request was consistently denied. Savita was even told by the doctors that, “this is a Catholic Country.” The fetal heartbeat finally stopped and that was when the doctors decided to perform the procedure, but by then it was too late. Savita died of septicaemia and multiple organ failure. And Mr. Halappanavar took his wife’s body home on November 1st to lay to rest, because a fetal heartbeat was deemed more important than his wife’s.
As noted by AFY_EmilyB:
“…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.”
This is all very true. The World Health Organization even states, “When abortion is made legal, safe, and easily accessible, women’s health rapidly improves. By contrast, women’s health deteriorates when access to safe abortion is made more difﬁcult or illegal.” The tragedy of Savita unfortunately serves to highlight the struggles that are faced when mere fetuses are made more important than our friends and family, when full on reproductive health care and rights are restricted.