Savita Halappanavar, murdered.


My adopted country let a 31-year-old woman die recently. I haven’t talked about it as I’m just… boggled. I need to talk about it, but how, where; where do I start?

A dentist, at 17 weeks pregnant, had terrible back pain and had to visit the hospital – twice – to have it confirmed that she was having a miscarriage. A baby at that age can not live on its own – the lungs aren’t developed enough. Her cervix was very dilated; wide open to infection, too. The natural process of contraction and expulsion during a miscarriage did not happen. She needed medical help. People are naming this necessary procedure an ‘abortion.’ I thought it was called dilation and curettage – and clearly the dilation part wasn’t even needed.

This was a planned and wanted pregnancy, and it went wrong. It happens. It happened to my best friend, and many others I know. It happens a lot.

But this time it happened in County Galway, Ireland. The couple believed that Ireland was a good country to have a family in. Savita didn’t want to lose her child, but she knew there was nothing she could do to save it. She went to the hospital. They confirmed there was no hope for her fetus. This was October 21.

But…it was still alive. There was a heartbeat.

For three days.

And three days is the amount of time it took for Savita to develop septicaemia , because the doctors would not remove the fetus and let her body recover from the miscarriage. They would not do the D & C until the fetus died. Savita herself did not die for four more days, not until October 28.

Three days of begging the medical professionals to save her life, three days of suffering and pain. Three days of mental agony, knowing that she had a dying baby inside of her. Then four days of isolation from her husband in ICU while she was dying from the system-wide infection.

She was told that “this is a Catholic country.” Apparently that means one heartbeat supersedes another. A quote, from her husband, published in the UK newspaper the Daily Mail: ‘Doctors refused the termination on the grounds that the foetal heartbeat was still present and being a Catholic country it is not permitted.
‘I tried to plead with the doctors that I am not Irish or a Catholic, so please help and terminate her pregnancy.’

Maybe it was because she was Hindu that they felt the need to explain just why they were so willing to murder her. Yes, murder. Wilful, intentional taking of a human life. This was not malpractice. This was not ignorance or accident. They knew what could happen and denied a medically necessary surgery for no other reason than religion.

I…just can’t wrap my head around this.

41 responses »

  1. It’s sickening, as they KNEW that baby could not live outside of the womb.
    And aside from the physical agony she went through, I can say from experience, the knowledge that you’re baby is leaving your body and there is nothing you can do about it is very painful. The fact that her last days were emotionally and physically painful for no reason… I can’t help but wonder, if the husband could have somehow gotten this story to the media while she was still alive, maybe the hospital could be MADE to see their error, or maybe she could have been flown out to somewhere where she could get proper care.

  2. I’ve been sick about this ever since we got the news reports in the States. And I wonder if she had had an influential relative somewhere nearby, if things would have been “fixed.” I wonder if there is a court in which her husband can sue those doctors, not because it would repair his grief in any way, but because they deserve to be smeared across every newspaper in the world making their lame excuses for what they did.

    • I am a bit heartened by all of the protestests going on, all over the country- and the fact that this has hit international news. I have close dealings with the national health service here, and I know that a threat of going to the radio or their local TD makes all of us move faster – no one here likes bad publicity even when we aren’t at fault. It’s such a small country that radio and word of mouth are huge factors, still. And it is about who you know. Yes, if they had made a massive noise this wouldn’t have happened, maybe.

      Suing for money will only hurt the rest of the country as this is socialised health care. I hope there’s a way he can sue for legislation. I get the feeling that’s all he wants, too – or he wouldn’t be so public with Savita’s medical history.

  3. No, you’re right to be upset. I saw it and then immediately read the results of a new study….I just posted about the study. Warning, if the news article made you sad, my post will enrage and sicken you. I can’t even begin to describe what’s going through my mind when I read things like this….so I’m with you. It’s just so wrong and so ugly and so just fecking stupid. /mental hug

    • I love your post. I think I might repost it here or on FB or both. I rarely get political here – despite how much I pay attention and care. I think this is above politics, it is just wrong and I will never understand anyone who thinks it could be ‘right.’

      • You’re more than welcome to! I think people need to be aware that they are jeopardizing their lives sometimes by going to a Catholic (or any religious run) hospital because the conflict with their belief systems is usually inevitable. And I don’t mean it to be an anti-religious screed, although some will call it that, it’s just about the ethics of the thing. From a purely medical standpoint, what’s described in those examples, it is wrong and it is malpractice plain and simple. God bless those Doctors who did what they thought was right.

        • I have no idea why ‘Catholic’ might equate, mentally, with good health care. To me it’s the same as if it said ‘Witness’ over the ER doors. And why in the fuck would a church of any kind have money to buy up hospitals?!? Could it be that the ‘every sperm is sacred’ ideal makes more Catholics and therefore more money for the Catholic Church? After all, abortion was never mentioned in any Christian writing, no matter how old. But that’s another issue… sort of.

          • Well to be fair the Catholic Church has long been involved in healthcare, some entire orders were devoted to caring for the sick. However, I don’t think that charitable aspect can account for all the hospitals they have been buying.

  4. Having barely lived through septic shock, I cannot begin to imagine what those medical people were thinking while they were not doing.

    Heal the sick unless it conflicts with arbitrary beliefs, then feic off and die. Or not. Whatever. Next in line!

      • grapplesnort, too!

        cigarette packages come with warning labels. I’m thinkin’ it’s time for hospitals to have a giant banner on the side–include all the stuff they won’t do (“not convenient for us, so eff off and die”) and how many people have gotten sicker while in the hospital and how many have died. yeah, I’m onto something here.

        • Ah, but they still consider that a gross photo will ‘cure’ us who are addicted to something that has been proven to be harder to kick than herion – and going to the nearest hospital is not a choice at all, is it?

          • I took myself off morphine, Miss Spiders, and it was a bitch. I had it all–the withdrawal symptoms were textbook. That’s when I heard how hard it was to get off nicotine–I can NOT even imagine how hard that would be.

            I’m hoping the pictures are for the young’uns who still have a relatively easy physiological choice. I’ve been watching my mother who smoked for 60 yrs fold in on herself for 20+ years, and have watched the mortal panic when she can’t get air.

            What do you mean–sorry, brain blink–going to nearest hospital not a choice?

            • Yikes, that sounds hard. The only person I know who was on morphine needed it to ease the pain of dying – and still fretted over using too much.

              A lot of my close family smokes, or used to. It hasn’t killed any of us, yet. I never expected to live this long myself, so I never really worried about it as a health issue. Maybe like my grandmother I’ll stop at 60 and live to 90. I’m taking shite here and I know it. The lies we tell ourselves to hold on to an addiction.

              I meant that, when you have an emergency, the nearest hospital is the ONLY choice. When hubby separated his shoulder we didn’t Google for the best place, we went to the nearest place. And you trust, don’t you? Until you learn the hard way – like you have – that trust sometimes isn’t enough.

  5. So glad you did post. I saw a bit about this just today on the news – simply tragic and horrifying.
    As someone said, the father might have had a chance if he’d gone to the media – but given the country and the fact that the hospital was Catholic, probably not.
    I don’t know those doctors. Personally, you would think some kind soul would have stepped in to help regardless of the consequences and her life would have been save.
    But docs that work in certain hospitals/countries have their hands tied in situations like this. If one had gone against “regulations” and done a procedure to save the mother – that doc probably would have had their license jerked and probably put in jail and prosecuted. Their whole life ( and their family’s) ruin plus sentenced for jail time because he/she did what was necessary to save a life. This situation has happened in the US
    IF they didn’t want to D and C, why didn’t they at least induce labor? (or is that also not allowed: to use drugs to speed labor? It’s pretty commonly done.)
    Some country’s laws are unreasonable and unbending.
    I don’t know these doctors and nurses (who are also quite capable of doing what is necessary…a little labor inducing drug slipped into the IV…of course getting hold of the drug is monitored?) but I have no doubt this tears at some of their hearts and souls also. It will haunt them.
    Every woman in the country needs to get up and protest. The laws must be changed to protect those who can live if given a chance. Commonsense? (Good luck with that, right? Some women will actually agree with this being “God’s will?” I’m feeling even sicker at that thought )
    Meanwhile, the only other choice is to leave the country or risk backroom operations?
    Once again, you have to wonder why men have any right to make decisions and laws about women’s health.
    Just sickening.
    Good job on the post.

    • This brings up a question I have – what, exactly ARE the consequences? I don’t think I could let someone die if I had the power to save them. What threat to me could keep my hands by my sides? So I have to think they all really believed it was the threat to their immortal soul that did it. I will never, ever, think that is acceptable.

      It sounds as if her body did all it could to expel the fetus, but just couldn’t complete the process. Which is why we have hospitals, and doctors, to fix the things our bodies can’t fix on their own.

      There are a lot of angry people in Ireland this week, and we are making our voices heard.

      • Horrid situation. Was this the only hospital available? You would think the hospital would have been glad to ship her off to another one.
        My husband asks why didn’t they do an emergency C section – maybe one would live.
        It’s hard to know what laws and regulations are at this distance (and all the medical conditions)- but something should have been done.
        Nurses here have been known to stretch openings with their fingers when nature won’t dilate enough. A mid wife could even do that.
        MAybe the staff all have to sign oaths for a position in a Catholic hospital?
        There are pharmacists here who refuse to hand over the counter birth control pills as they say birth control is against their beliefs and religion. There have been lawsuits over that. Maybe they should find another occupation
        When my sister-law close to giving birth stopped feeling movement rushed to the ER only to be told the baby is dead come back when you are in labor – my dad( there since brother was out of country) grabbed the young heartless doc by the lapels and said, “No, that is not going to happen. This is what you are going to do and do it right now.” My dad was over 6 foot and though a very calm person could be quite firm: he did surgery on the front lines during WW II. THe child was lost, but my dad said no way was she going to be sent home to wait to deliver a dead baby.
        It’s true childbirth brings death even these days, but something is wrong here
        Someone ought to provide answers for this and be held accountable.
        Encouragement sent for your efforts from here!

        • Your sister-in-law’s story brought tears; this is standard procedure in Ireland. They force women to deliver, naturally, a dead baby. They won’t even perform an ‘abortion’ when it is gone.

          I can only think that this couple were too kind and gentle of nature to get loud? That’s a big assumption of course.

          It’s a small country. I’m pretty far west, and the roads are terrible, but I could get to Dublin in just over two hours, a long way when you are unwell. There is only one hospital in my entire county, and Co Galway, where this happened, has two. There isn’t much of a life-flight system, and the ambulances are just big vans. Aaaand… It’s socialised medicine. It’s free. If your attending physician says this is the course of treatment, there isn’t much chance of a second opinion. Even when I HAD private insurance and vitiated the ER, they didn’t seem to know what to do with it.

          • You confirmed some of what I was wondering. Rural area, medical system with little options. As the medical systems get worse, a patient needs an aggressive advocate watching over them – even here.
            Sadly the big “free” systems mean the system evaluates the patient’s outcome and the effort needed. If it’s too much time or trouble, sorry. More will die.
            People will end up waiting too late because it’s so hard to get an appointment or using folk remedies.
            Here a wrongful death law suit would be filed probably.
            But it’s sad how so many would just say child birth is dangerous.
            Is it only an illusion that women have come a long way?Women can work long hours at a job ( still in charge of house and children), run for office, vote and drive, – so what has been gained when deaths like this occur?
            Sad beyond measure.

    • Estimated 10,000 marched in Dublin today, and others protesting around the country. 10k is a lot when the population is under 5M. Our taoiseach is protesting, himself – that he won’t be ‘rushed’ into making this an actual law.

  6. In what kind of a country is a doctor allowed to take a decision? In a normal situation, a doctor is supposed to issue recommendations, and then do whatever the patient decides.

    What kind of a doctor assumes life or death based on heartbeat? In what modern science book it is said that a heartbeat is a sign of life or death?

    What in the world happened of science for a doctor to take a decision based on a religious belief?

    I thought this was the 21st century. Take God out of this world. He’s done nothing in 2000 years and he takes more lives then he saves. I hope the world will finally have evolved by the 22nd century.

    • Thank you, Tom. I’m right with you an all counts.

      Isn’t brain-wave activity the criteria for life, when it comes to ‘pulling the plug’ on someone? Not a heartbeat. Never.

      I belong to an atheist FB group, and follow Freethought Blogs, but I don’t think any of those members put it so well as you did in your last paragraph.

      • I am an atheist. I don’t participate in any specific group though. Free thought is part of my life and my culture. I like to learn new things all the time. I never take anything as fact until I have got all the information that I need to make a opinion for myself. I like to share my opinion at any possible occasion, though I respect others’ opinions (but I will explain why I don’t share it).

        I respect people’s religions, but I don’t understand the need for these people to still believe in a religion or a supernatural being, now in the 21st century. I know more about religions than religious beings. I have some interest about religions, how they came, why, etc. I have a theory about the birth of most modern religions which I share with others when I am given the occasion (but only after I made sure nobody will be insulted).

        Yes, brain activity is considered the criteria to determine life, and it’s the one I believe in.

  7. Pingback: I don’t ever want to do that again « heretherebespiders

  8. This is just beyond horrible and awful. That any woman would be allowed to DIE over a dying fetus. It’s not as if the poor thing had any chance.

    But this is why I refuse to go to Christian hospitals unless I have no choice, like my insurance will only support X doctor. I do NOT want choices made based on religious belief. Sometimes when you are swallowed up in the tragedy of horrible medical crap you just AREN’T thinking right. It doesn’t occur to you protest, to question, to argue. You truly believe that those people whose care you are in have your best in mind. Sadly many many many medical professionals of all colors stop seeing people as people. They just don’t want to be bothered. My mom works in nursing homes and tells me some horrible stories.

    After my second spinal surgery I had a nurse who didn’t care. She didn’t check my med amounts properly, she didn’t come when I called, didn’t turn my pressure cuff off at the right time, didn’t even want to help me, AFTER SPINAL SURGERY, to walk to the bathroom. Even though there was nothing to hold onto. I’ll grant this is nothing like what these poor people went through, but I could have died. Even though I knew what she was doing was wrong, I didn’t think to have a fit.

    I truly hope this is looked into and this poor ladies death somehow prevents this sort of thing from happening again.

Thoughts? Gardening tips? Cocktail recipes? Don't just like and leave, please - I can talk for Ireland and would love to prove it!

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