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Savita Halappanavar | Denied Abortion Dies from Septicemia

Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-Chief
Last Modified: 23:52 PM EDT, 14 November 2012

Savita Halappanavar, Indian Woman Dies in Ireland, Refused Abortion

Savita Halappanavar

The ‘War on Women” became a seminal issue of the 2012 United States presidential election. Never before had women’s issues been at the forefront of a political contest in which many men openly revealed their utter ignorance of how women’s bodies functioned, while waging an all-out campaign to eliminate the legal statutes that guaranteed the right for women to seek and secure safe abortions.

While Americans were discussing abortion rights in the abstract, last month an Indian woman living in Ireland, Savita Halappanavar, 31, died because she was not allowed to receive an abortion.

Her tragic story began when she presented to University Hospital Galway because at 17 weeks pregnant she was experiencing unusual back pain.

By all accounts Mr. and Mrs. Halappanavar were happy with the upcoming addition of a child to their family, so this sudden development was worrisome. Savita, a dentist, and her husband, an engineer, waited for the results of her internal examination, but when the doctor returned with the prognosis it was devastating. She was fully dilated, her amniotic fluid was leaking, and the child would not survive.

Doctors told her that she would miscarry in a few hours, but instead according to a report in the Irish Times today, she “died of septicemia a week later because, even after doctors confirmed that her baby would certainly die, they refused to perform a life-saving termination of the pregnancy citing the fact that Ireland is a Catholic country.

This is a clear case of when the religious beliefs of attending physicians outweighed their Hippocratic Oath. Though, the Halappanavar repeatedly begged the doctors to induce labor since it was clear that the fetus would not survive, but each time doctors refused to perform the life-saving measures required to save Savita’s life, asserting that as long as there was a fetal heartbeat they would not terminate the pregnancy.

Over the next few days medical personnel seemed to take inordinate care of the fetus, checking every few hours to see determine if its heart was still beating. Meanwhile, Mr. Halapannavar had to watch Savita deteriorate as poisonous blood course through her body. Once it was clear that they could not save her baby, Mrs. Halappanavar once again begged for the doctors to induce labor to end the pregnancy, as before, these requests by all accounts were assiduously ignored.

Mr. and Mrs. Halappanavar are Hindu and thus believed that they were not subject to the prohibition against abortions which governs the religious lives of Irish Catholics. Even when Mr. Halappanavar explained that they were neither Catholic nor Irish and that under the Irish law, a woman has a “legal right to an abortion where there is a ‘real and substantial’ risk to her life,” the doctors still refused to save her life.

Two months prior to Savita’s death, on 13 September 2012, more than 140 Irish medical professionals from the fields of obstetrics and gynecology, mental health, and molecular epidemiology attended a symposium to discuss abortion as a tool to save a mother who has a problematic pregnancy that is life-threatening.

At the conclusion of the conference the symposium issued ‘the Dublin Declaration.’ Drafted by leading medical experts in maternal healthcare the document asserts that “abortions are not medically necessary, and thus abortion has no place in treating women and their unborn children.” (Source: Zenit)

Thus, Savita perished after a week of suffering and with the knowledge that she had already lost her child and that she would most certainly die.

Meanwhile, across the pond, America pro-choice supporters mounted a vigorous defense of Roe vs. Wade while combating ignorant beliefs about pregnancy espoused by many far-right conservatives like former Representative Joe Walsh.

The Illinois Rep. proclaimed that because of “advances in medicine and technology, you can’t find one instance” in which an abortion would be necessary to save a mother’s life. It was also his belief that the health of the mother has become a tool for abortions any time for any reason … there’s no such exception as the ‘life of the mother.’

When women’s freedom and the right to self-determination is held hostage by religious beliefs, cultural bias, or patriarchal dominance, death is sure to follow. Whether by stoning or honor killings or medical neglect, the net result is women everywhere remain at risk as long as a few people can impose their will and belief system about women’s bodies on society at large.

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Editor: @ayannanahmias
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About Ayanna Nahmias

Ayanna Nahmias was interviewed on Radio Netherlands Worldwide program titled 'The State We’re In,' about her life in Africa and her determination to transcend her past. She started the Nahmias Cipher Report to provide information to readers about life in emerging economies, and to provide alternative insight into the challenges faced by women and children living in these countries. The blog features stories from around the world to inspire other people to persevere and triumph in the face of great adversity. She blogs about current events in emerging economies, international politics, human rights abuses, women’s rights and child advocacy.

View all posts by Ayanna Nahmias

13 Comments on “Savita Halappanavar | Denied Abortion Dies from Septicemia”

  1. paulworthingtonjr Says:

    My heart goes out to the Halappanavar’s. What a senseless and tragic death. All because men want to play God. What these doctors don’t understand, God never wants anyone to die.

    The doctors allowing Mrs. Halappanavar to die, while waiting for her to miscarry was preposterous. And because of their ignorance two lives were lost.

    Reply

  2. jalal michael sabbagh.http://gravatar.com./jmsabbagh86@gmail.com Says:

    The civilized world must come together to find the right solution .Religion is to save lives not to destroy life.l hope it will never happen again to any one .Very sorrowful tragedy.

    Reply

    • bigstick1 Says:

      Sorry many religions are about politics and dominance not about saving lives it takes a pro death stance which is designed to have women become breeders and men warriors for religious (political stance). It was designed to ensure that men kill and women replace; to hell with both. It is nothing more than an agenda of the elite. If you bother to read any of the Abrahamic texts you will find the manmade invent Abrahamic two dimensional God expouses much on killing the wicked men, women, children, and unborn. The idiots that follow the religion follow an evil text and those who purport it to be anything else have failed to read the text in all it’s bloody and sacrificial evidence of the text and the insane followers of such evil continue to be well document as they embrace their inhuman and murderous practices on justify it on delusional make believe.

      If you bother to understand history you will find that actually the world as it leaves religious stances grows more peaceful not the other way around. Religion is evil.

      Reply

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