Savita Halappanavar- the thread to actually talk about the case

(106 Posts)
ZombiesAreClammyDodgers Thu 15-Nov-12 16:00:11

Away from the madness of the other thread.

pointythings Netherlands Thu 15-Nov-12 19:08:43

Extro can I just say that posting that link on this of all pages is in the most horrendous bad taste I have ever seen on MN?

I think there are two issues here:

1) The pregnancy could not be saved. That being so, from a purely medical point of view, what should have happened was the minimisation of the risk of infection as far as was possible. Which should have meant immediate termination, to allow the uterus to close, aggressive treatment with antibiotics, and constant monitoring.

2) The Irish government needs to stop dragging its feet and implement legislation and clinical guidelines so that doctors can intervene in cases like this without fearing prosecution.

ZombiesAreClammyDodgers Thu 15-Nov-12 19:22:10

pointy agree. It was a disgusting thing to do when there is a strong case to argue that that lobby's actions have in some ways resulted in this woman's death.
Absolutely disgusting.
Why on this thread??

pointythings Netherlands Thu 15-Nov-12 19:26:15

Thanks, OP. I am very angry about Extro's insensitivity and so I have reported the post. Though I'll understand if it is not removed.

CookingFunt Thu 15-Nov-12 19:27:35

The government seem to be afraid of upsetting the anti-abortionists and losing votes,than saving womens lives. There is a facebook group called TFMR that is asking for legislation for termination for medical reasons (no chance or quality of life outside the womb). The stories are heartwrenching and a real insight into what women in Ireland are up against.

AnyaKnowIt Germany Thu 15-Nov-12 19:29:47

I still can't understand why they left her in pain for 3 days sad

RIP Savita

AnyaKnowIt Germany Thu 15-Nov-12 19:34:11

I've reported Extros post too

angry

Both the mother's and the foetus/baby's lives are held in equal status under the Irish constitution. So they medical staff could not choose to give her a D+C while there was still a hertbeat, unfortunately without breaking the law. The x case ( where a court ruled that a pregnancy that was the result of a rape put the mothers life in danger, therefore she was allowed to have a termination) has not been legislated for by seven governments. If it had been , theres a strong possibility Savita would still be alive.

DublinMammy Thu 15-Nov-12 19:45:50

I've reported it too.

freddie the point is that under Irish law, it's illegal to procure a miscarriage, in other words to 'bring about' which the medical staff absolutely wouldn't have done even if they managed the miscarriage by medical means. The poor woman was already having a miscarriage spontaneously.

But is this about abortion or medical negligence? I think there's clearly medical negligence but it's about abortion as she wasn't allowed the option which clearly would have been the best way forward.

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pointythings Netherlands Thu 15-Nov-12 20:06:40

carrot I did not realise that Extro had pulled this stuff on the other thread - am horrified now. angryangryangryangryangry

MNHQ, please act!

Back on point: upthread ICBINEG was asking about when medics can intervene, about balance of probabilities, etc, is it a grey area?

I answered on the other thread but it probably was lost. According to the OBGyn in this article, there is no need to make a judgement call about these questions in a case such as this.

"As Ms. Halappanavar died of an infection, one that would have been brewing for several days if not longer, the fact that a termination was delayed for any reason is malpractice. Infection must always be suspected whenever, preterm labor, premature rupture of the membranes, or advanced premature cervical dilation occurs (one of the scenarios that would have brought Ms. Halappanavar to the hospital)."

*"there is no medically acceptable scenario at 17 weeks where a woman is miscarrying AND is denied a termination, *"

So there isn't a single medical reason that would justify denying her the termination in her circumstances.
No grey area. No balance of probabilities. Absolutely categorical.

pointythings Netherlands Thu 15-Nov-12 20:17:08

You see, that's what I thought too. I just wonder whether the political climate in Ireland is so intimidating that doctors are terrified of prosecution to the point where they are paralysed with it. Which would be a very sad state of affairs indeed, but not surprising.

Agreed. The obgyn who wrote the article concludes

"As there is no medically acceptable scenario at 17 weeks where a woman is miscarrying AND is denied a termination, there can only be three plausible explanations for Ms. Hapappanavar’s “medical care” :

1) Irish law does indeed treat pregnant women as second class citizens and denies them appropriate medical care. The medical team was following the law to avoid criminal prosecution.

2) Irish law does not deny women the care they need; however, a zealous individual doctor or hospital administrator interpreted Catholic doctrine in such a way that a pregnant woman’s medical care was somehow irrelevant and superceded by heart tones of a 17 weeks fetus that could never be viable.

3) Irish law allows abortions for women when medically necessary, but the doctors involved were negligent in that they could not diagnose infection when it was so obviously present, did not know the treatment, or were not competent enough to carry out the treatment."

LeBFG Thu 15-Nov-12 20:24:05

Or, as the OB says in carrot's link, a zealous individual doctor or hospital administrator interpreted Catholic doctrine in such a way that a pregnant woman’s medical care was somehow irrelevant and superceded by heart tones of a 17 weeks fetus that could never be viable.

LeBFG Thu 15-Nov-12 20:24:40

Sorry x-posted

Curtsey Thu 15-Nov-12 20:25:14

Freddie doctors can and do terminate pregnancies/assist miscarriages even when there's still a heartbeat if the woman's life is at risk-see my earlier post. The question is why did this not happen in this case.

Separately but related, the question of why 6 governments have failed to legislate for the X case remains.

Abortion is prohibited in Ireland by sections 58 and 59 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861:

58. Every Woman, being with Child, who, with Intent to procure her own Miscarriage, shall unlawfully administer to herself any Poison or other noxious Thing, or shall unlawfully use any Instrument or other Means whatsoever with the like Intent, and whosoever, with Intent to procure the Miscarriage of any Woman, whether she be or be not with Child, shall unlawfully
administer to her or cause to be taken by her any Poison or other noxious Thing, or shall unlawfully use any Instrument or other
Means whatsoever with the like Intent, shall be guilty of [an offence], and being
convicted thereof shall be liable, ..., to [imprisonment] for Life ....

59. Whosoever shall unlawfully supply or procure any Poison or other noxious Thing,
or any Instrument or Thing whatsoever, knowing that the same is intended to be
unlawfully used or employed with Intent to procure the Miscarriage of any Woman, whether she be or be not with Child, shall be guilty of [an offence], and being convicted thereof shall be liable, ..., to [imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years].

Ilovemydog - There is no exception there for cases where the mother's life is in danger.
The mother can travel to another
jurisdiction for an abortion in such
circumstances, and the Constitution allows for legislation providing an exception to the
ban in such circumstances, but no such exception has actually been created by legislation in Irish law. The medical staff, imo, are not to blame.

Curtsey Thu 15-Nov-12 20:27:45

Pointy, I'm not sure that the political climate in 2012 could rightly be described as 'intimidating'. 'Paralysed' is a better description. But as we've seen it doesn't really matter since the outcome is terrible either way.

pointythings Netherlands Thu 15-Nov-12 20:38:37

But Freddie it is impossible to argue that anyone would have been procuring a miscarriage in this particular situation, since a miscarriage was already happening and had already been confirmed as being irreversible.

So I'm thinking that Curtsey's option 2 or option 3 are probably going to be correct, with the possibility that both were in play.

I suspect the outcome will be that the doctors get done for negligence and that the Irish government will continue to duck its responsibilities in legislating as they have been directed to do by the EHRC. Cowards that they are, each and every one. I wonder how many times this will have to happen again. sad

Hopefully they don't Pointy. I really believe the medical staff feel they were doing what they could within the constraints of the law, and that it wasn't simply for religous reasons.

The gathering of people outside Leinster House last night and the outrage expressed by the Irish public today will, I hope sway Fine Gael and spur them into drafting legislation which will legalise at the very least, abortion where the mother's life is in danger.

freddie that's the point though. It would not have been illegal to medically assist Savita as the illegal act is to procure a miscarriage which had happened spontaneously. This is the tragedy; that what she was asking for was well within the confines of the law.

Agree with pointy that this will probably change nothing in regards to Irish law about abortion and the doctors will be scapegoated with medical negligence.

Freddy: If every doctor knows that denial of termination in these circumstances poses a risk to the health and life of a mother then in Ireland they have a huge conflict with the law and should have been screaming from the rooftops for decades that the law as it stands prevents them from saving dying women.

Instead, too many Irish doctors have been denying what other doctors know to be true.

And if you are right then her doctors should now be saying
"we wanted to give her the termination. We know it is medically what she needed. We know that we did not give her the care she needed because the law prevented us from doing this. She died because the law prevented us from doing our jobs."

And then they should be struck off. Because she had a right to be treated by doctors who actually abide by the hippocratic oath, and any doctor who withholds lifesaving treatment from a patient for fear of their jobs, even for fear of prison is a coward and has no business in medicine.

edam Thu 15-Nov-12 21:30:01

This is such a horrible, horrible tragedy. The Catholic Church has Savita's blood on its hands. As does the Irish government - successive governments that have failed to uphold the European law that demands abortion be available when necessary to save a woman's life. As does the medical profession, which should have been shouting from the roof tops, and the doctors involved in her (lack of care) who, faced with a dying patient, should have fulfilled their moral and professional duty to save her life. As does everyone in Ireland who voted against abortion and particularly the anti-abortion movement.

edam Thu 15-Nov-12 21:32:45

(I wouldn't be quick to defend Irish doctors as being in an impossible situation legally either - firstly, their conscience and professional obligation must over-ride the muddled law or they have no business being in medicine, and secondly there is a long and extremely nasty history of Irish medics doing evil things to women because they were anti-contraception as well as anti-C section, let alone anti-abortion.)

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