The story of Savita Halappanavar came to light today, and has been widely covered in the media in Ireland, and even further afield (BBC and Huffington Post). It’s an awful story, and all day I’ve been moved to complete disgust and shame by what it revealed. As a human I’m stunned by how something like this could happen in what I’m sure almost every other Irish person would describe as a modern, civilised, and decent country.
There are a few things about what I read and heard today that bother me a great deal. Not as much as the loss of her life, but they are the rot in this country.
- Mismanagement of a miscarriage– Once it was evident that there was a miscarriage occurring, and once Mrs Halappanavar requested that the pregnancy be terminated, then it should’ve happened. People who abhor abortions and terminations are allowed to be offended, but they should not be allowed to influence policy and opinion such that even in this case it was considered to be a right and fair option.
- “This is a Catholic country” – Just what the hell is this even supposed to mean? In one statement we’re all branded as religious zealots (I’m an atheist by the way), and look to be cruel, and evil. When religion interferes with the right and fair treatment of a patient we really need to have a deep look at our priorities.
- A lack of political/governmental clarity and commitment – Enda Kenny, James Reilly, and their fellow ‘leaders’ had an opportunity today to stand up, and shout clearly that this tragedy will not be repeated. To state once and for all that they would move on legislation, and bring our country forward to a point where pregnant women no longer need to escape our borders in order to avail of an abortion, especially where medically necessary. But they didn’t do that. Oh no, now they’ll wait for the end of an investigation or two, maybe even a review or two, and then order more research, and then pass the buck on quietly when the voice of the people has moved on to another subject.
- Pro-Life/Pro-Choice – It’s a pretty terrible day when the death of a woman is used as a stick and a shield by both sides of the fence. Considering my stance (women should have the right to choose) you might only think it natural that I consider the Pro-Life side (and all their associated cronies) to be the more bat-shit crazy and evil of the two, and I do. If I could scoff any more at their bizarre twisting of events then I would. That said, the vocal and spitting mob of the Pro-Choice side should’ve quietly stepped back, and mourned the loss of life, with dignity.
- The Medical Council – OK, so I’m not sure if my problem is with the Medical Council exactly, but I do think some of the problem lies with them. And they should be acting today too. It is realistic to imagine that part of the reason that Savita Halappanavar was treated in this way was because the doctor was afraid. Afraid to commit to a procedure which might cost him his license, his job, his freedom, and who knows what else. All over the news today there was a lack of consensus until the evening on what exactly the doctor was allowed to do. How is anyone supposed to make a decision on a patients fate when all of that is swinging over them like a giant axe?
These are all things that we as a country need to address. We need to make things better. We need to never allow this to happen again. We need to beg forgiveness of ourselves, and of the family of Savita Halappanavar for not being a better nation, and for not standing up straight enough and demanding change.
Contact your TD, write to your newspaper, tweet about it.
Negligence and ignorance killed this woman. We can do better.