What it means to be pro-life: Remember Savita Halappanavar

Last month, a woman was killed by a medical system steeped in archaic religious superstitions.

In truth, this probably happened to countless women across the globe.

But there’s one where we know her name, and we know her story.

Savita Halappanavar was 17 weeks pregnant when her lower back began to ache. She went to hospital, and learned that she was having a miscarriage. It was progressing slowly, so Savita asked for a medical abortion.

Savita had the misfortune of living in the Republic of Ireland, an anti-choice stronghold.

The hospital told her, “this is a Catholic country”. They refused to do anything because the foetus still had a heartbeat. Savita was forced to wait. She grew sicker and sicker for three days as the thing died inside her, poisoning her body. She was in agony.

The hospital made her wait. The thing still had a heartbeat.

When it finally ended, and they operated, it was too late. It had released too much poison into Savita’s body, and she became sicker still. She died a week after first going into hospital. She died from blood poisoning.

Her death could have been averted. She wanted the foetus that could never have lived removed from her body, but the doctors refused.

They killed her. The lawmakers who make abortion illegal in Ireland killed her. The church with its undue power killed her. It was the so-called pro-life stance that killed her.

When someone says that they are pro-life, remember Savita Halappanavar. Remember how they ignored a sick woman in favour of something with a heartbeat that was inside her and that was killing her. Remember that pro-life will always think of that thing with the heartbeat rather than the woman who will die unless it is removed.

That is what it means to be pro-life.

17 thoughts on “What it means to be pro-life: Remember Savita Halappanavar”

  1. I worry that discussing abortion in relation to events like this anchors the debate in terms of acceptable versus unacceptable cases for abortion, when it should be around why anyone other than the woman in question gets a say in the decision.

    The abortion should have been carried out because it was requested.

    1. You are absolutely right, however it is also important to emphasise that anti-choice kills women in ways that could be easily avoided.

      All in all, so fucking upsetting.

      1. I don’t think choice is necessarily about saving people.

        The tragedy is that she wanted to live, she asked the doctors to save her, but they said no. They saw a woman in pain asking for their help and refused her. They should be struck off, such disgustingly inhuman behaviour has no place in the medical profession.

  2. And all because she had the misfortune to live where she did. As for the term pro-life… I don’t see how anything that happened to this woman was pro (HER) life. The term is a total oxymoron!


  3. Not only did she die, but she was in agony for 3 days. What kind of health system lets someone suffer like that when they have safe options available to end the pain?

  4. Although I live in Northern Ireland, this story makes me utterly ashamed to have any Irish identity right now. In fairness, a very sizeable minority of people voting in the last referendum on choice in the Republic supported it – but sadly not enough.

    Agony and death over a foetus that could never be viable in the first place. It beggars belief that this could even be thought about in the 21st century, never mind that it actually fucking happened.

    RIP Savita.

      1. No, it’s rubbish here too. You can only abort an embryo up to nine weeks, and even then it has to severely impact upon your health – and it seems that doctors here are notoriously unwilling to recognise that a threat to health can mean so much more than just immediate physical danger 😦

        The whole island is a (very unfunny) joke when it comes to any measure of choice.

  5. 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.

  6. I am in tears reading posts related to Savita. Truly this tragedy has touched my heart. Shame on our ‘legislators’, shame on the doctors who didn’t act on the serious threat to Savita’s beautiful life. They have blood on their hands.

  7. Reblogged this on loveangellove and commented:
    Perfect analysis of an horrific situation in which the life of an unformed, unborn foetus is worth more than that of a full-grown adult woman.

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