Wednesday, 14 November 2012

The beating heart

Via Echidne, I saw this very sad story from Ireland:

Two investigations are under way into the death of a woman who was 17 weeks pregnant, at University Hospital Galway last month.

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 poor woman is put through a horrifying ordeal and then dies, because:

“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.

Bolding mine. Via a commenter at Crooked Timber:

Bishop John Fleming wrote in the Irish Times yesterday that;

“Ireland, without abortion, is recognised as one of the safest countries in the world to be a pregnant mother … Clearly, if the life of the mother is threatened, by illness or some other medical condition, the care provided by medical professionals will make sure that she receives all the medical care needed.”

Via another CT commenter, the Irish Times again:

“I was with her those four days in intensive care. Every time they kept telling me: ‘She’s young. She’ll get over it’. But things never changed, they only got worse. She was so full of life. She loved kids.

“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’s very hard. It has been a terrible few weeks, very hard to understand how this can happen in the 21st century, very hard to explain to her family.

One beating heart was offered up in sacrificial tribute to follow another.

ADDED by fh: PZ Myers's take. No, PZ, tell us what you really think.


fern hill said...

The Catholic Church killed her. And she was neither Irish nor Catholic. She was Indian and Hindu.

Niles said...

Maybe they thought she was wanting to get rid of the feotus because it wasn't the desired sex the couple wanted for a child.

Yes, it's an absurd reduction but good goat, isn't that the international talking point du jour of the anti-choicers? The straw horror of those demmed brown pagans misusing the incredible power of modern technology to gendercide the 'unborn'?

I'm a cynic. I have a hard time picturing a woman of upperclass Irish society being put through that torture to her death.

Unknown said...

The death of Savita Halappanavar should provoke outrage in anyone truly concerned about the health of women.

Hopefully the investigation will shed some light on why Mrs. Halappanavar was refused treatment for miscarriage, when this treatment is regularly administered in this country, and is allowed for by the law and by the Medical Council.

The treatment she needed was legal, so there is no question that a change in the law is what is needed here. It is medical negligence that she was not treated urgently.

In cases where the fetus is still alive, the Medical Council in part 21.4 of its guidelines for medical doctors states that treatment is allowed even if “there is little of no hope of the baby surviving”.

The treatment that Mrs. Halappanavar should have received is legal in this country. In fact, it is standard medical procedure in cases like hers. That she wasn’t treated is a failure of the hospital and medical team, not a problem with the law.

I suspect that the medical council will strike off one or more people because of this and rightly so.

The greatest thing we can do to honour Savita’s life is to insist on obstetric excellence – that is what saves women’s lives, not abortion.

Beijing York said...

JFC! They f8cking stood by, watching her die an agonizing death, without doing nothing more than monitoring a fetal heart - that's torture and murder in my books and criminal charges should be laid. Not only did they deny her emergency treatment, they didn't even dare threaten the heartbeat with f8cking painkillers. Was there not even ONE sane medical professional on staff to at least have the courage to medivac her to the UK as soon as she presented?

Námo Mandos said...

Sarah Carroll has been posting this around the internet, by the way.

Niles said...

It boils down to state-sponsored torture and murder by misfeasant if not malfeasant neglect, despite a patient's reported pleading to save her life. And by state, I mean theocratically papal bullwhipped pet political system.

And yes, to all the pearl-clutching blind wyrms stirring from their lairs, indignant that there aren't column inches of feminazi outrage over Other-religion torture of women in the name of invented moral purity, we're quite aware of the egregious anti-woman crap going on around the globe, but how many other nations have been touted as 'the celtic tiger champion of laissez-faire capitalism', where all is wise and wonderful and a shining city on the hill held up to all technologically 'developed' nations as a way to not only bring riches to those God designates as worthy, but able to "MORALLY" *legislate* women's health without granting women autonomy over their own sexual health.

In this great modern model of state and religious collusion, a woman lay dying in a modern hospital, deliberately denied evidence-based medical aid by the theocratic mysticism espoused by those who decided she, a non-believer of their god, needed to abide by their majority sectarian declarations.

It was high-tech human sacrifice to the Christian god.

Back-pedal and throw blustering chaff up arses all you please.

Anonymous said...

Well, not surprising considering this bullshit:

"DUBLIN, Ireland, SEPT. 13, 2012 ( A medical symposium in Dublin, Ireland, heard evidence that "abortion is not medically necessary to save the life of a mother."

The International Symposium on Excellence in Maternal Healthcare was attended by more than 140 Irish medical professionals from the fields of obstetrics and gynecology, mental health, and molecular epidemiology."


And there you have it. Irish doctors got together and agreed that women should just die from pregnancy. Assholes.

fern hill said...

And now for some Catlick Compassion. It was her fault, the dirty (brown) slut.

Savita was a dentist, BTW, no doubt very well aware of the value of hygiene.

And modern science.

Anonymous said...

And of course, the Christian Taliban wants to make it illegal, a crime of blasphemy no less, for anyone to criticize their behaviour!

Sixth Estate said...

Some might say that abortion IS an example of "obstetric excellence." I certainly wouldn't know how to perform one safely.

Sixth Estate said...

Damn straight. She should have understood the consequences of her CHOICE to go to Ireland!


Maybe she could have sought treatment earlier and maybe she couldn't have. It's kind of irrelevant. There is only one person who can decide whether a mother's life is worth risking for the sake of her fetus. And that's the mother herself.

Anonymous said...


"Great. There was a “symposium” in Ireland at which some boffins concluded to their own satisfaction that “abortion is not necessary to save the mother’s life in any circumstance” so PersonhoodUSA naturally gives a yell of triumph. Go right ahead and force Catholic hospitals to let pregnant women die rather than provide an abortion, Catholic church!"

fern hill said...

Here's some medical info from Dr Jen Gunter, an actual OB/GYN.

Dr Gunter's conclusion: malfeasance if not malpractice.

Niles said...

The apologists are going to come out of the wormwood on this, looking for anything to make the victim the slattern cause of what's happened.

The Catholic blogger Ms FH cites appears to have a great deal of psychological security invested in tusting her religious authorities are in the right on this. But then, she and others in the ranks of the faithful are taught to unquestioningly do just that.

However, she still appears to be requiring to skip over many of the already published circumstances to be comfortable lecturing a dead woman in tut-tut tone troll about not being SMRT enough to be properly clean and nevermind all those days of being in hospital under alleged hippocratic oath care.

Niles said...

...invested in tRusting.

Beijing York said...

Someone in the comments to that excellent post by Dr. Jen Gunter pointed out that the situation was probably made worse because of racism. She was from Ireland.

I bet well-heeled Irish women avoid that Catholic hospital like the plague. Poor Savita, little did she and her husband know that they were entering a hell hole.

I had an extremely Catholic OB/GYN uncle who practiced medicine well into his 70s in the 1990s. I remember taking photos of his clinic because the examining room resembled a torture chamber - equipment and tools that looked like they were in vogue circa 1930. I was told that he refused to ever prescribe contraceptives to his clients. He was a cold bastard and I am amazed he had any clients.

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