Life-Saving Abortion, Savita and Catholic views

I want to post about a news story. It’s really been bothering me and on my mind because there’s some stuff I need to say about it.
Here is a link to an article about it:


Several weeks ago a woman named Savita Halappanavar was taken to a hospital in Ireland, 17 weeks pregnant and in pain. She was miscarrying the child and it would not survive. It seems pretty clear from all I’ve read that there was just no saving that baby. Savita herself was succumbing to an infection which required removal of the dying baby/fetal tissue (we can argue semantics later). Doctors at the hospital refused to do the removal because 1) the baby had a heartbeat 2) this makes it abortion 3) abortions are illegal in Ireland under all circumstances. So this mom suffered for three days and finally died along with the baby. Once Savita had learned the baby would not make it, she requested an abortion; she requested it more than once. Doctors said no. The baby inside her was killing her by poisoning her blood (septicemia), but she couldn’t get treatment to save her because it involved killing a dying baby.
*By the way, people do not even all agree that at 17 weeks it should be called a baby. No delivery is EVER viable until more than 20 weeks. Deliveries before 23 weeks are extremely likely to result in the child dying soon after or having severe disabilities requiring lifelong care.

Many people are outraged by this story. I am one of them. Ireland has it on the books that abortion is illegal. Some years ago a court ruled that legislation be passed to make it allowable in cases where the mother’s life is in danger. The only problem is that no such legislation was passed. To my shame, this rule is a result of the heavy influence of the Catholic church in Ireland. The Catholic church is very zero tolerance when it comes to abortion. Apparently the reasoning goes like this: if you actively remove or dismantle a fetus you kill it directly which counts as murder. Even if it was dying already and taking mom along too, you must at all cost avoid the primary action that causes fetal death. This suggests that actions are to be counted in terms of whether we sin or not, whereas inaction absolves us. In this case it means failure to treat Savita (which did kill her) would not count as murdering her. I find this strange because embedded in the Catholic mass is the confiteor. When we say this we state “I confess I have sinned through my own fault…in what I have done and in what I have failed to do.” This clearly calls us to be responsible for wrongs we did AND wrongs we allowed to happen. Action and inaction; I believe this is called sins of commission and omission. The stance regarding Savita should have been to save her, since through inaction doctors allowed her to die, and as I said, the baby was lost no matter what they did.

I guess I’m pretty removed from this as its happened in another country, but it upset me enough that I thought I should mention it. Maybe someone else will mention it to someone else who will mention it to someone else… Someone mentioned it to me and now I can’t shut up about it. Maybe other people still need to hear about it.

What should happen now is lots of people saying this was wrong. Like a really really lot. It sounds like a lot already are. I’m hearing plenty of pro-life views that this was incredibly stupid and sad and that Savita didn’t need to die. Then the Catholic church should condemn this type of neglect by doctors and call on Ireland to write in a legal exception for life of the mother. Then Ireland should write up the legislation. Should. I don’t really know what’s going to happen though.

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