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What right to life?

by Frank Schnittger Thu Nov 15th, 2012 at 03:56:19 AM EST

Letter to the Editor
"The occasion of tragic death of Savita Halappanavar is not the time to be scoring political points or rushing to judgement as to the quality of care she received in University Hospital Galway. However the fact that she was apparently told that  "this is a Catholic country" when her pleas for an abortion of her dying unborn child fell on deaf ears tends to suggest that her own wishes and medical criteria alone were not allowed to determine her care and ultimate fate. Are Hindus not allowed to live and die by the precepts of their own faith in this allegedly tolerant and multicultural island of ours?"

front-paged by afew


Woman 'denied a termination' dies in hospital - The Irish Times - Wed, Nov 14, 2012

Savita Halappanavar (31), a dentist, presented with back pain at the hospital on October 21st, was found to be miscarrying, and died of septicaemia a week later.

Her husband, Praveen Halappanavar (34), an engineer at Boston Scientific in Galway, says she asked several times over a three-day period that the pregnancy be terminated. He says that, having been told she was miscarrying, and after one day in severe pain, Ms Halappanavar asked for a medical termination.

This was refused, he says, because the foetal heartbeat was still present and they were told, "this is a Catholic country".

She spent a further 2½ days "in agony" until the foetal heartbeat stopped.

Woman 'denied a termination' dies in hospital - The Irish Times - Wed, Nov 14, 2012

Speaking from Belgaum in the Karnataka region of southwest India, Mr Halappanavar said an internal examination was performed when she first presented.

"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 was really in agony. She was very upset, but she accepted she was losing the baby. When the consultant came on the ward rounds on Monday morning Savita asked if they could not save the baby could they induce to end the pregnancy. The consultant said, `As long as there is a foetal heartbeat we can't do anything'.

"Again on Tuesday morning, the ward rounds and the same discussion. The consultant said it was the law, that this is a Catholic country. Savita [a Hindu] said: `I am neither Irish nor Catholic' but they said there was nothing they could do.

"That evening she developed shakes and shivering and she was vomiting. She went to use the toilet and she collapsed. There were big alarms and a doctor took bloods and started her on antibiotics.

"The next morning I said she was so sick and asked again that they just end it, but they said they couldn't."

Critically ill 

At lunchtime the foetal heart had stopped and Ms Halappanavar was brought to theatre to have the womb contents removed. "When she came out she was talking okay but she was very sick. That's the last time I spoke to her."

At 11 pm he got a call from the hospital. "They said they were shifting her to intensive care. Her heart and pulse were low, her temperature was high. She was sedated and critical but stable. She stayed stable on Friday but by 7pm on Saturday they said her heart, kidneys and liver weren't functioning. She was critically ill. That night, we lost her."

Mr Halappanavar took his wife's body home on Thursday, November 1st, where she was cremated and laid to rest on November 3rd.

Whatever you do, don't get pregnant in Ireland, and if you do, don't get sick...  Of course the "Right to Life" movement will tell you that situations where a doctor must choose between the life of the mother and the life of the unborn child never happen.

Campaigners call for legislation after death of pregnant woman - The Irish Times - Wed, Nov 14, 2012

United Left Alliance TD Clare Daly said the Government's refusal to legislate for abortion had "contributed to the circumstances" which led to Ms Halappanavar's death.

"A woman has died because Galway University Hospital refused to perform an abortion needed to prevent serious risk to her life," Ms Daly said.

"This is a situation we were told would never arise. An unviable foetus - the woman was having a miscarriage - was given priority over the woman's life."

Ms Daly said the ULA intended to resubmit a private member's Bill to legislate for abortion on the basis of the X Case, which the Government voted against in April.

Director of the National Women's Council Orla O'Connor said Ms Halappanavar's death was "horrific and needless", and called on the government to take immediate action to legislate.

"It is simply unacceptable that 20 years after the X Case ruling women and doctors are still waiting for the much needed legal clarity," she said.

"Savita Halappanavar's death tragically highlights the urgent need for legislation giving effect to the constitutional right to abortion where the life of the mother is at risk."

Anti-abortion campaigners have criticised pro-choice groups for "exploiting" the death of Savita Halappanavar to further their own agenda.

Niamh Uí Bhriain of the Life Institute said the loss of Ms Halappanavar's life was not caused by Ireland's ban on abortion, and it was "very sad to see abortion campaigners rush to exploit this case".

"We need to ensure that mothers and babies are best protected, and abortion is not part of best medical practice. It is medieval medicine," she said.

Meanwhile, the Government is acting with all due haste. Only 20 years after the Courts ruled, in the "X" case, that the government needed to legislate to vindicate a mother's right to life, the Government is considering another report on the matter...

Campaigners call for legislation after death of pregnant woman - The Irish Times - Wed, Nov 14, 2012

Speaking in Cork this morning, Dr Reilly said a Government-appointed expert group on abortion headed by Mr Justice Seán Ryan had submitted its report to the Government yesterday.

The expert group was set up last year to examine the decision of the 2010 European Court of Human Rights in the ABC case, which concluded that abortion would be legal where there was a risk to the life of the woman.

"The report has been a bit delayed but it landed in my department last night," Dr Reilly said.

Perhaps Savita Halappanavar's tragic death will help prevent it gathering dust on the shelves for another 20 years...

Display:
I thought that your religionist nutters had managed to get a Constitutional ban on abortion into law, so there was no way jose it can ever be allowed.

it probably doesn't help that you have the Dublin declaration on Maternal Healthcare, issued just a couple of months back. You have the Republican's wet-dream; theocratic healthcare. Does anyone pray away the gay over there ?

As experienced practitioners and researchers in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, we affirm that direct abortion is not medically necessary to save the life of a woman.
We uphold that there is a fundamental difference between abortion, and necessary medical treatments that are carried out to save the life of the mother, even if such treatment results in the loss of life of her unborn child.
We confirm that the prohibition of abortion does not affect, in any way, the availability of optimal care to pregnant women


keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Nov 14th, 2012 at 04:46:04 PM EST
The attempt to enshrine a "right to life" into the Constitution backfired- as Garret Fitzgerald had warned it would.

I suspect that the doctors involved in the Savita Halappanavar death will take the fall for exposing the myth that the life of the mother will never be put t risk.

I'm am not aware of any "praying away the gay groups" except perhaps in fundamentalist prod circles in Northern Ireland.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Nov 14th, 2012 at 05:10:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The constitution does not forbid a termination to save the life of the mother, but abortion is illegal and there is no legislation to cover the situation of  a medically necessary abortion, so doctors and hospitals are at risk of prosecution if they act.

That's before you even get into the entanglement of health provision and the church.q

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Nov 14th, 2012 at 07:01:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fifty years ago much of the healthcare in the US was theocratic healthcare because of the level of church ownership of hospitals.  Our family doctor boycotted the local Catholic hospital for quite awhile because he lost a baby in delivery for no reason other than the nuns refusing to allow him to perform a C-section.  I've always liked the line from the Poirot story "An Appointment with Death" where a character characterizes nuns as "vampires in drag."
by rifek on Sun Nov 18th, 2012 at 01:50:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We affirm that "necessary medical treatments that are carried out to save the life of the mother, even if such treatment results in the loss of life of her unborn child" shall be the preferred euphemism for terminations carried out to save the life of the mother.
by Gag Halfrunt on Mon Nov 19th, 2012 at 04:08:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course the "Right to Life" movement will tell you that situations where a doctor must choose between the life of the mother and the life of the unborn child never happen.

But she was miscarrying! What 'life of the unborn child' are we talking about here?

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Nov 14th, 2012 at 05:06:55 PM EST
the foetus' heart was still beating - and doctors waited until it stopped before taking any action.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Nov 14th, 2012 at 05:11:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The "Right to Life" crowd is self-selected to reject facts, science, and reason.  Might as well argue with a door knob.    

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot
by ATinNM on Wed Nov 14th, 2012 at 05:32:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't call them "right to life".
by Katrin on Wed Nov 14th, 2012 at 05:34:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm open to suggestions.

"Moronic fools incapable of grasping reality" is a bit of a mouthful.


Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Wed Nov 14th, 2012 at 05:38:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They are not moronic, they try to maintain their power over women's lives. And that's what needs to be pointed out: abortions happen. The only thing legislation regulates is the safety of women. Legislation against abortions kills women, and the advocates of this legislation are killers of women. Contra life, not pro life.
by Katrin on Wed Nov 14th, 2012 at 05:56:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I find it so sad, that in these days we still need to have this discussion. I believe abortions should be avoided and prevented, the pro and cons looked at - because even it todays modern medical technology it is an intervention. I have done plenty of counselling with women having to make this decision, but in the end it is the woman who has to live with whatever decision see makes, and looking at the consequences before the decisions helps avoid quilt feeling afterward, which some women carry with them for a long time. And sofar I have not met one woman who made the decision lightly.

What I find even more moronic is that the same people who are against abortion are also against contraceptions.

I think the framing of this topic is important, because pro-choice is actually pro-life. I't is also amazing that you rarely hear the socalled pro-lifers talk about the quality of life after birth.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Nov 15th, 2012 at 02:23:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What I find even more moronic is that the same people who are against abortion are also against contraceptions.

I think the framing of this topic is important, because pro-choice is actually pro-life. I't is also amazing that you rarely hear the socalled pro-lifers talk about the quality of life after birth.

And this is the entire issue summarised in three sentences.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Nov 15th, 2012 at 04:08:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What I find even more moronic is that the same people who are against abortion are also against contraceptions.

Because for the true bigwigs in the "pro-life" movement, it's not about the fetus.  It's about hating sex and a pathological belief that people -- especially women -- who engage in sex for pleasure should be punished.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Nov 15th, 2012 at 12:32:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And the ones that don't hate it probably don't get it without paying for it, end up feeling guilty about it, and also need to blame/punish women.  
by sgr2 on Thu Nov 15th, 2012 at 01:00:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fetus-Firsters.

'tis strange I should be old and neither wise nor valiant. From "The Maid's Tragedy" by Beaumont & Fletcher
by Wife of Bath (kareninaustin at g mail dot com) on Thu Nov 15th, 2012 at 02:25:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Several hundred protesters gathered outside the Dáil this evening to protest over the failure to legislate for the X case and spurred by the death of Savita Halappanavar who died of septicaemia in Galway University Hospital after miscarrying. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Nov 14th, 2012 at 05:19:12 PM EST
The Govt won't do anything. Too many religionists, too many men. Until women make the move that happened in the US where the republicans largely died on the lack of women's votes, then the current situation will continue.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Nov 14th, 2012 at 05:22:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We have a conservative led Government, but I hope and think you are probably wrong. The power of the Catholic Church has much declined, and they need Savita's death like a hole n the head.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Nov 14th, 2012 at 05:36:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Though Fine Gael does include some outstanding religious nutjobs in their ranks. EPP, naturally. Abortion bad, killing women and children with austerity, good. Normal shit.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Nov 15th, 2012 at 05:04:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No.

People are about as annoyed as they were after the Omagh bombing. Governments have been pissing about with this for 20 years. I think they'll end up having to finally do something now. Coincides with pressure from Council of Europe too.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Nov 14th, 2012 at 06:54:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So you think they will submit to the will of the European Council on medically necessary abortion as readily as they put their constituents on the hook to cover the asses of European bankers? You are talking about moral principles in this case! It is hard to overestimate the extent to which such people will evade, prevaricate and drag their feet in such situations.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Nov 15th, 2012 at 12:04:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I know all the Councils are confusing, but it's not the European Council, it's the 47-country human rights treaty org the Council of Europe that Colman is referring to. The Council of Europe, which organizes the European Court of Human Rights, has nothing institutionally to do with the European Union.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Nov 15th, 2012 at 02:48:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
See DoDo's diary The Councils of Europe.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Nov 15th, 2012 at 02:55:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Though the Council of Europe does allow the EU to fly the CoE's flag.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Nov 15th, 2012 at 04:06:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have duly reviewed the nomenclature and hope to do better. :-)

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Nov 15th, 2012 at 12:31:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Even the Times is reporting that as more than a thousand people.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Nov 14th, 2012 at 06:50:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The photograph has since "disappeared" but I can't edit to include different photograph. What remains in the comment is the Irish Times caption beneath their own photograph.


Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Nov 14th, 2012 at 09:42:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is a crime, really.She was told " This is a catholic country" but I can tell you that even if Australia is not "catholic country" and has kind of secular state (I suppose), different states have different laws about abortion, reproduction etc. I know young women that came from UK about 2 years ago and unfortunately she had two miscarriages in that time and both times she was sent home from hospital to miscarriage on her own. She was in agony for days and with no permanent supervision. Luckily she is OK now.
 I do not know medical reasons ( if there are any) for this practice but I remember women telling me back at Serbia that this practice is usual, all tho in Serbia they would admit women to hospital and let her miscarriage there on her own but with supervision. But those were the days of socialism when no one really cared about cost for government...nowadays they push people to go home from hospital two days after very serious operation...to save money.  
by vbo on Wed Nov 14th, 2012 at 06:22:23 PM EST
Oh I just read now that she was in hospital. Then it's more then crime...
by vbo on Wed Nov 14th, 2012 at 06:31:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What happens to women denied abortions? This is the first scientific study to find out.

Abortion is a hotly debated and poorly studied medical procedure. There are a few studies of dubious validity that connect abortion to mental illness and drug use. Politicians have used these studies to justify greater limitations on women seeking abortion in the United States.

There has been no sustained effort to study what happens to women who want abortions but can't get them due to restrictive rules. Until now. These women are called turnaways. A new longitudinal study reveals what happens to their economic position, health, and relationship status after seeking an abortion and being denied it.

...

"We have found that there are no mental health consequences of abortion compared to carrying an unwanted pregnancy to term. There are other interesting findings: even later abortion is safer than childbirth and women who carried an unwanted pregnancy to term are three times more likely than women who receive an abortion to be below the poverty level two years later."

...

"We find physical health complications are more common and severe following birth (38% experience limited activity, average 10 days) compared to abortion (24% limited activity, average 2.7 days). There were no severe complications after abortion; after birth complications included seizure, fractured pelvis, infection and hemorrhage. We find no differences in chronic health conditions at 1 week or one year after seeking abortion."

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Nov 15th, 2012 at 02:09:59 AM EST
Arrrgh!
(Several paragraphs of profanity deleted.)

What the fuck, Ireland? What the fuck?

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sapere aude

by Number 6 on Thu Nov 15th, 2012 at 04:39:44 AM EST
I know "Ireland" is an unfair generalisation and there are many sensible people who live their and vote. Sorry.

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sapere aude
by Number 6 on Thu Nov 15th, 2012 at 04:40:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
*there.
(Don't type while angry.)

-----
sapere aude
by Number 6 on Thu Nov 15th, 2012 at 04:44:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The fun thing is that the fundamental law is clear: terminations to save a woman's life is permitted by Constitution and Supreme Court decision - even if the risk to life is suicide. An attempt to remove suicide as an admissible risk was defeated in a referendum.

The problem is that since there is no legislation on the matter that doctors and hospitals interpret that in the narrowest possible way so that there must be an immediate risk before they'll act. So not so much Ireland as Irish politicians. Problem is that the religious anti-life lobby are much more motivated about this than most people.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Nov 15th, 2012 at 05:09:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Who would have sued the hospital had they carried out the abortion in time? Is this a case of malpractice-lawsuit-fatigue, or unjustified overcautiousness?

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Nov 15th, 2012 at 05:12:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sued? It would have been a criminal offence. All it takes is one fanatic staff member making a complaint to the prosecutor and a leak to a radical Catholic paper or two.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Nov 15th, 2012 at 05:14:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think it is possible that the (senior) Consultant Doctor in charge of her care - who appears to have been the actual decision maker in refusing her request - could be charged with "manslaughter" (i.e. unintentional killing) in due course. Failing that he could lose his Medical license to practice.  The Medical Council will not want to be associated with this shit.

The real scandal now is that the Gardai do not appear to have opened a criminal investigation yet.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Nov 15th, 2012 at 06:26:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I can't see the DPP considering that in the public interest, somehow.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Nov 15th, 2012 at 06:34:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I will be quite surprised if the Consultant get's off "Scot-free". The husband could take a criminal or legal action if he felt up to it (and had the private finance to fund it...) or at least make a formal complaint to the Medical Council.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Nov 15th, 2012 at 06:46:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the husband has left ireland for a more compassionate and advanced country, India. I doubt he will return for any reason. If the law appears to demand his wife should die for religious reasons, how can he presume she will receive justice via the very law court which demanded her death ?

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Nov 15th, 2012 at 07:00:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Really? He said on radio he'd be back shortly.

No law court demanded any death here, if anything the opposite.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Nov 15th, 2012 at 07:05:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
AFAIAA the Husband has a job in Galway and only returned to India to bury his wife. The Supreme Court has ruled that an abortion is permissible where the life of the mother is at risk, so this comes down to a question of medical malpractice or not.

Where politicians are culpable is that their failure to legislate in detail has provided nutjob consultants with some cover to "interpret" the law in the light of their own beliefs.

Tragic case demonstrates moral minefield faced by doctors - The Irish Times - Thu, Nov 15, 2012

In the meantime, doctors must make life-and-death decisions affecting both mother and foetus, knowing that a wrong call may feed into the fevered debate on abortion.

Even the Medical Council guidelines seem contradictory, saying that every effort to preserve the life of the mother should be made in exceptional circumstances, where "there may be little or no hope of the baby surviving".

The only good news in all this is that cases where the mother's life is endangered and can only be saved by a termination are extremely rare. Ireland has a very low rate of maternal mortality, at about six deaths per 100,000 births.

Declan Keane, obstetrician at the National Maternity Hospital in Holles Street, Dublin, points out that most miscarriages occur in the first trimester of pregnancy.

At 17 weeks pregnant, Savita Halappanavar was already in her second trimester and the general outlook for a woman at such a stage of pregnancy would be positive. Even in cases where heavy bleeding was occurring, Keane says it should prove possible to stabilise the mothers and ultimately to deliver a healthy baby. The focus of doctors will always be on the health of the mother they are treating, according to Prof Fionnuala McAuliffe, spokeswoman of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

"A pregnancy will be delivered in a situation where the mother is very sick and it is felt the risk to her life might increase by continuing the pregnancy," she says.

In circumstances where a woman has, for example, pre-eclampsia or unstable blood pressure, a decision may be taken to induce delivery of a baby in order to improve the health of the mother.

However, babies born before 24 weeks' gestation will not normally survive.

In situations where the mother's life is not at risk, obstetricians say the law is clear. "If the situation is not life-threatening, termination of pregnancy cannot be considered," says McAuliffe.



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Nov 15th, 2012 at 07:09:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Seems to me that this is all the wiggle room that the politicians need to enable themselves to evade both taking responsibility for the tragedy and legislating to prevent it in future.

I can hear the clack of the rosaries as the politicians righteously intone "The law is clear and the medical staff acted alone in allowing this woman, who happened to be pregnant, to die of non-pregnancy related issues. It was nothing to do with us, or the law and absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with Ireland's democratically endorsed attitude to abortion"

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Nov 15th, 2012 at 07:32:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You can read, listen, watch the relevant politicians for yourself here

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Nov 15th, 2012 at 07:51:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
(See also Iraq/prisoner abuse/few bad apples.)


-----
sapere aude
by Number 6 on Thu Nov 15th, 2012 at 08:01:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Fran:
Her husband, Praveen Halappanavar (34), an engineer at Boston Scientific in Galway
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Nov 15th, 2012 at 08:35:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's probably unjustified overcautiousness, obviously. Probably. With a long jail sentence for getting it wrong.

Don't get me wrong, there's a whole other issue of religious nutjobs in the health service, since a lot of hospitals started as Church-run charities and have still associations with orders or the Hierarchy. The chairman of the board of the National Maternity Hospital is the Archbishop of Dublin ...

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Nov 15th, 2012 at 05:16:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't want to excuse politicians for their obvious culpability in this, but to cite the lack of precise legislation in this situation is also a bit of a cop-out. It isn't, and shouldn't be necessary to legislate for every clause of the Constitution in great detail to give it legal effect. As you say, the Supreme Court has already ruled abortion is permissible where the life of the mother is at risk and this is accepted medical practice.

What I suspect happened here is that the Consultant/Hospital in question is a bit of a religious nutjob and didn't act although the vast majority of doctors in that situation would have, and would have done so with impunity. (I am not aware of any doctor being sued for performing a procedure which resulted in termination in recent times).

Generally the medical profession make a somewhat Jesuitical distinction between an "intentional" abortion, for its own sake, simply at the behest of a patient and without a medical requirement for it, and a medical procedure, required for medical reasons, which also happens to abort the foetus.

Where this "Jesuitical" approach becomes dangerous is where a medical procedure - e.g. chemotherapy - greatly damages but perhaps doesn't actually quite kill the foetus resulting in all manner of unwanted complications later. No mother would want to cause her unborn baby untold suffering and most would want either a proper abortion, or would delay chemotherapy until they had carried the baby to term - a quite common and very risky decision for the mother usually but not always carried out on medical "advice". Middle class "professional" mothers are often much more assertive in this regard, whilst others often do what they are told...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Nov 15th, 2012 at 06:42:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is a bit of a cop-out, but it gives cover to a consultant that is either excessively concerned with the purported opinions of a purported sky god or a bit too concerned about their careers in case of a questionable call.

This was a middle class professional mother ...

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Nov 15th, 2012 at 06:52:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Colman:
This was a middle class professional mother ...

Which is why she wouldn't take NO for an answer and repeated her request several times. This also why the Consultant could be in bigger trouble now, because he can't claim that she didn't ask, or that she withdrew he request when "counseled" or that she changed her mind and was happy to along with the treatment path he had chosen for her. A less assertive or knowledgeable person might have just decided "doctor knows best" and gone along with it all.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Nov 15th, 2012 at 06:58:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It would be typical for a legal and political class to punish a medical professional for following they very religious principles which they themselves enshrined in law.

If he goes to court, so should the political filth which enabled him. But they won't cos they're all cowardly barbarians unwilling to take responsibility for their own mania

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Nov 15th, 2012 at 07:02:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Surely if he wasn't acting out of religious convictions then he will cite the muddle of the law (and previous instances of the issue) as a defence - which will put the politicians back on the line.
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Thu Nov 15th, 2012 at 07:09:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the legal and political classes are better lawyers. Ignorance of the law is never a defense, but being able to make it mean whatever you want is the meat and drink of politician's lives.

the doctor hasn't got a chance of being able to deflect the blame back where it really lies

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Nov 15th, 2012 at 07:26:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
(See also Italy/earthquake/scientists.)

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sapere aude
by Number 6 on Thu Nov 15th, 2012 at 07:59:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The killing of Savita Halappanavar - Blog - The F-Word

But I'm sorry, this story does get worse.

According to Savita's widower Parveen, his wife's requests for a termination were met with the response, "This is a Catholic country". When I read that I went cold. I've heard things like that before.

If someone starts telling you what country you're in, or telling you screamingly obvious facts about that country, it's time to look at them sideways. If your appearance, name or accent mark you out as foreign, you want to be wary of people who say that.

If those people are making important medical decisions about you, be very, very frightened.

I've heard that turn of phrase used in schools to shut down kids from immigrant backgrounds. I've heard workers use it to intimidate and undermine colleagues.

People simply do not bring up the country they are in in a context like that unless they are being racist.

The only reason I can see that an educated adult woman of Indian origin would be suddenly, randomly, informed of the dominant religious belief of the country in which she was begging for medical treatment is that her ethnicity and religion were an issue for the medical staff treating her. That her pleas for a termination were taken less seriously because they were perceived as the pleas of an unchurched foreigner who should have more respect for Irish Catholic beliefs. I have to wonder: was Savita's ethnicity and religion, even subconsciously, a factor in the decision not to remove the foetus? The foetus which had as much chance of surviving out of the womb as in it?

I'm not saying that racism killed Savita Halappanavar.

I don't think it was medical incompetence, or institutional misogyny, or even Catholic dogma.

It wasn't one of these things. It was, I believe, all of them: a fatal intersectionality, if you like, of oppression.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Thu Nov 15th, 2012 at 12:36:43 PM EST
Yea, damn good point

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Nov 15th, 2012 at 12:41:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
According to Savita's widower Parveen, his wife's requests for a termination were met with the response, "This is a Catholic country".

This doctor should be in jail, thanking his lucky stars Parveen didn't kill him then and there.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Nov 15th, 2012 at 12:44:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't personally know the hospital or the staff involved, but I would be surprised if racism was a factor. The Irish health system has many staff of Indian origin, and they are, as far as I can tell, quite respected in their various fields of work. The doctor making that comment "this is a Catholic country" could simply have been trying to explain that it is national political and legal culture which is, in part, influencing his decision making and constraining his freedom of action. He might even have been using it as an excuse for not doing what he felt he ought to be doing.

Now that she has died, it is doubly embarrassing for the authorities that she is Indian because it helps ensure global coverage for the events, and raises the awkward question of Catholic teaching determining the choices available to Hindus. Believe it or not, there are still Catholic and Protestant managed hospitals in Ireland with a different "ethos" governing the decision making around women's health...although the Protestant ones have now largely been subsumed into larger secular institutions. Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda is infamous for having practiced the truly barbaric symphysiotomy operations until the 1990's.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Nov 15th, 2012 at 02:02:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I've had the "United Ireland" discussion countless times over the years, including with my best friend, who is Irish Catholic.  My position hasn't budged much: Why should the UK feel morally compelled to hand its citizens over to a country with a legal system dictated by The Vatican?
by rifek on Sun Nov 18th, 2012 at 08:03:04 PM EST
The Good Friday agreement has enshrined in Law the only mechanism for such a handover, and that is if the majority of the NI electorate decide they want it. That is not going to happen any time soon, but the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar is not a factor in that equation. The Roman Catholic church may have started off all this "right to life" anti-abortion nonsense, but it is being taken up by fundamentalist protestants in NI and elsewhere with gusto. This is about having a rational and secular state in all parts of Ireland!

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Nov 19th, 2012 at 06:54:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In fact, the biggest problem, if it ever happens, will be the northern evangelicals having screaming hissy fits about the liberal Irish state.

Despite the idiot racist crap being spouted about the paddies by various people, the whole point of the ban on abortion in the Constitution was that it was an attempt by a church who could see its power fading to make its mark.

What's happening at the moment:

  • Schools are moving away from Church patronage. They're fighting a rearguard action on this but they will no longer dominate the primary education sector.

  • The abortion fight is being lost, step by step.

  • Gay marriage is coming in the not too distant future.

  • Divorce is already here.

  • Their power over the hospitals is fading too - the attempt to get the new children's hospital and maternity hospital under the auspices of the church controlled Mater has failed, for instance.

What might slow this down is <ba da dum> American style, American funded evangelist conservatives.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Nov 19th, 2012 at 07:17:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Expect, as in the USA, the Catholic Church and the fundie prods to unite against the common enemy - a liberal secular state. Much nicer to have two divided sectarian religious controlled states carved out of what could have been one united island and people where it not for religion (ok - and colonialism and a number of other historical factors...) But the bottom line is that extreme Catholic nationalism and Protestant Loyalism requires a fear of the other to sustain itself and the divisions on this island whilst the local elites on both sides laugh all the way to the bank...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Nov 19th, 2012 at 08:48:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It doesn't help reason and moderation any that there's a closet Oxford Movement member sitting in Canterbury, pandering to every homophobic peasant in the Anglican Communion.
by rifek on Tue Nov 20th, 2012 at 07:16:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Interestingly, the 7 member inquiry team will be chaired by a UK national of Indian ethnicity. Remarkably, it will include 3 members of staff of the hospital in question - so how independent can it be? A majority - 4 out of 7 members will be women. Otherwise the range of disciplines represented seems appropriate.

HSE unveils membership of Halappanavar inquiry team - The Irish Times - Mon, Nov 19, 2012

The seven-member investigating team will be chaired by Professor Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, head of obstetrics and gynaecology at St George's University in London.

The team is made up of a number of experts in the relevant disciplines; including anaesthesia, midwifery, obstetrics and gynaecology. They are Cora McCaughan, head of the executive's Serious Incident Management Team; Geraldine Keohane, director of midwifery at Cork University Hospital; Dr Catherine Fleming, Infectious Diseases Consultant at Galway University Hospital; Brian Harte, Consultant Anaesthetics, Galway University Hospital and Prof John Morrison, Consultant in  Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Galway University Hospital.

It also includes an independent patient representative, Cathriona Molloy of Patient Focus.

The HSE said the team has been in contact with  legal representatives of Ms Halappanavar's husband, Praveen, and "will engage with him as part of the investigation process".

The draft terms of reference for the inquiry have already been sent to Mr Halappanavar, who has arrived back in Ireland from India and is staying with friends in Galway.

The HSE did not give a timeframe for completion, but said the inquiry "will be completed within an expeditious timeframe".



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Nov 19th, 2012 at 11:55:34 AM EST
Bishops move to clarify church stance on lives of unborn and mother - The Irish Times - Tue, Nov 20, 2012
They also said that "whereas abortion is the direct and intentional destruction of an unborn baby and is gravely immoral in all circumstances, this is different from medical treatments which do not directly and intentionally seek to end the life of the unborn baby.

"Current law and medical guidelines in Ireland allow nurses and doctors in Irish hospitals to apply this vital distinction." They added: "Where a seriously ill pregnant woman needs medical treatment which may put the life of her baby at risk, such treatments are ethically permissible provided every effort has been made to save the life of both the mother and her baby."

Please note there is no mention of rape, incest, or a heightened risk of suicide, and there is ambiguity about exactly what constitutes a sufficient threat to  the health of the mother to warrant immediate treatment. Thus if the mother is discovered to have, say, cancer, and needs immediate chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy, will that treatment have to be delayed until the unborn baby is brought to term? What mother would want to expose her unborn child to such damaging treatments?

The mother's 5 year survival chances will have been much reduced, but that isn't an immediate threat to her life, is it? The Bishop's statement rather glosses over that point.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Nov 20th, 2012 at 05:40:15 AM EST
(Haven't seen it laid out better anywhere so I'll link to this again:)

How Would A Rape Exception Work? (Hint: It Wouldn't) | Jesse Taylor | Raw Story

Question 1: What triggers the exception? [...] The more likely trigger will be that the woman in question needs to at least press formal charges against an alleged rapist, particularly given that doctors would likely be prosecuted for illegal abortions otherwise.
[...]
Question 2: When can a woman obtain an abortion under a rape exception? [...] Is there a jurisdiction in this country that could handle a rape trial in under 24 weeks?
[...]
Question 3: Does a rape exception violate due process for the accused rapist? [...] the abortion is prima facie evidence that rape was committed.
[...]
There doesn't appear to be any coherent, constitutional fashion in which a rape exception can be administered unless "rape" is the magic word you use to obtain an abortion with no other legal consequence or requirement.

The word "rape" is a distraction that allows people to avoid making hard choices when writing the law.

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sapere aude

by Number 6 on Tue Nov 20th, 2012 at 05:59:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In many cases the alleged rapist may not be known to the woman, and thus she has no immediate means of finding, much less pressing charges against him.

The only way it might work is that an allegation of rape has to be made and any corroborating evidence presented - e.g. allegation against specific person, injury, evidence of trauma  - so that a prima facie case for a crime having been committed can be made, and certified by a Court authorized doctor/police officer.

If the allegation is subsequently proved to be false, presumably the woman could then be prosecuted for having had the abortion. But how do you prove a rape has NOT occurred, unless the women admits to that fact? Even if an accused is found and prosecuted, he may be found innocent due to insufficient evidence. The lack of a conviction is not evidence for the lack of a crime.

So in practice, yes, the rape exception would be difficult to administer, and either you take the women's word for it, or you have to trust the "balance of probability" judgement of a doctor/police officer - who could be nutjobs, open to bribery, or entirely unsympathetic to the victim or to any rape exception except in the most grotesque of cases.

Their judgement could presumably be open to appeal to a court by the mother refused consent to an abortion. But what happens if a local activist "right to life" group starts wanting to appeal all judgements in favour of an abortion? Could they be granted standing to appeal on behalf of the unborn?  Absolutely not, in my view. Only the mother and the judge should have any standing in that context.

And all of this could be happening whilst the woman is traumatised, suicidal, and unable to face what is going on inside her own body, never mind anywhere else.

So yes, it is very hard to envision a sane, rational and compassionate process to administer a rape exception which goes beyond the mother's word for it, but this is an insane world we live in, and I doubt the Irish Government would be prepared to legislate for a straight right to choose without some prima facie evidence of involuntary, incestuous, or under age of consent circumstance.


Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Nov 20th, 2012 at 10:40:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
OK, according to the bishops it is perfectly normal for Mrs Halappanavar to have died, because the hospital applied their doctrine to the letter. Had the pregnancy been terminated, as the mother asked, in order to save her life, that would have been "gravely immoral".

Sometimes it's best to just STFU.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Nov 20th, 2012 at 12:03:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yep. Getting into GOP territory here.

The baby was obviously, clearly, not going to live. What part of biology do they not understand? The bit after the rib was turned into Eve?

I know people who are just as much true Christians as any bishop. They don't all hate women as far as I can tell.


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sapere aude

by Number 6 on Tue Nov 20th, 2012 at 12:13:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Irish Times - Readers Letters and Feedback
Sir, - It is 10 years since my first letter was published here, describing my distress at the invidious position of women in this country who find they are carrying a foetus incompatible with life (February 25th, 2002). I write again for the sake of Savita Halappanavar and extend my condolences to her husband and family.

My case was the first of its kind in Ireland to be taken to the European Court of Human Rights, taking four years to reach a hearing. Lest the findings of that case should be lost in the profusion of current debate, the Irish State argued that I should have applied to the Irish courts first (while pregnant in distress, I might add), because of reasonable chances of establishing that Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution did not apply to a foetus with a lethal anomaly. In its defence, Gerard Hogan, counsel for the State argued that a court would not apply Article 40.3.3 with "remorseless logic" to such exceptional and tragic circumstances. We now know that not to be the case, viz, Miss D in 2007.

It is my understanding that the latest expert group report to the Oireachtas, on the X case, does not include any discussion or recommendations in the event of foetal incompatibility with life. The wording of the 2002 referendum also precluded medical intervention in those cases, which is why, after my letter was printed, there was a volte face by the masters of three Dublin maternity hospitals, as the medical profession remained unprotected unless there was evidence of suicidal tendency. The constitutional amendment was defeated, I believe, because of the constricted wording, the first time the people voted against church and state.

The political procrastination played out over my letter prior to the 2002 referendum and the subsequent 2006 D v Ireland case continues unabated and has led to the tragedy of Savita Halappanavar's death in Galway last month. During that difficult period 10 years ago, an often repeated phrase rang in my ears from politicians who sat on the fence, "hard cases make bad law". I say: bad law kills women. - Yours, etc,

DEIRDRE DE BARRA,



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Nov 20th, 2012 at 05:44:10 AM EST
Galway staff removed from inquiry - The Irish Times - Tue, Nov 20, 2012
The three employees of Galway University Hospital have been asked to stand down from the inquiry into the death of Savita Halappanavar, the Dáil has been told.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said this afternoon that the Government had decided earlier that Minister for Health Dr James Reilly would request the HSE not to have any consultant from the hospital involved in the investigation.

"That is not, in any way, impugning their integrity,'' he added.

He said it was being done to have regard "for the traumatic effect on Savita's husband and family and in the greater public interest at large''.

Mr Kenny said it was accepted that the chairmanship of Prof Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran was unquestioned. Therefore, the investigation would be utterly independent of the hospital and would, hopefully, be able to ascertain the truth, the facts and circumstances surrounding the very tragic death.



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Nov 20th, 2012 at 11:41:29 AM EST


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