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Woman dies in Galway after being denied termination

(1000 Posts)
AThingInYourLife Wed 14-Nov-12 07:07:12

Holy evil pro-life bastards, batman

The wonder is it that there haven't been more angry

RIP Savita Halappanavar sad

LadyBeagle Wed 14-Nov-12 12:34:47

That's a question I was wanting to ask stargirl.
I wonder if cases like these could be brought before the European Court of Human Rights.
I would be interested to hear from any Human Rights Lawyers.

BellaTheGymnast Wed 14-Nov-12 12:34:53

Thanks for the legal stuff. Absolutely horrifying all round.

Just a thought for the "catholic country" topic, abortion is illegal in NI too, which is part of the UK.

galwaygal Wed 14-Nov-12 12:36:55

How do we know that the foetus was not going to survive? A friend of mine had her waters go at 17 weeks in the same hospital, and was kept in hospital until she gave birth at 33 weeks (only a few weeks ago) to a healthy baby. However my friend was wanting to give her baby a chance.

The husband is reported to say that his wife requested a termination for three days in a row before she died. This put the staff in a difficult position, unless there was a clear indication that the feotus was dead or that the woman's life was actually at risk, then they were not in a legal position to proceed with doing much other than giving antibiotics to help prevent infection.

Whether she was given antibiotics, or how quickly the septicemia was detected, or number of other medical issues are clearly going to need to be investigated.

Within the last two years Ireland has had investigations into many misdiagnosis of miscarriage. Where ERPC operations have been carried out where only one scan done and where mothers who have refused to go through the ERPC have gone on to have healthy babies. I have had personal experience of misdiagnosis at this very hospital in question.

I have had extremely bad treatment and managmenet for recurrent miscarriage at this hospital and put in more than one complaint agianst this hospital, but my complaints have been buried in paperwork and just being offered to see yet another doctor being the solution. Letters carefully worded by the hospital implying that my complaints have been resolved - without changes actually appearing to be implimented. I hope that this case might get some changes happening, especially regarding the legislation for termination of pregnancy, but in reality a doubt anything will happen.

ukatlast Wed 14-Nov-12 12:36:59

I don't post often but logged on to register my disgust that this could have happened in Western Europe in this day and age to a woman already in hospital thinking she was being cared for in accordance with modern medical standards. My first thought was also how can Eire be in the EU with such lack of appropriate Law, to protect a pregnant miscarrying woman's right to life.

GhoulWithADragonTattoo Wed 14-Nov-12 12:38:25

sad What a terrible situation. It must not be allowed to carry on.

My thoughts are with Savita's husband and family.

glastocat Wed 14-Nov-12 12:38:56

I am angry, appalled and ashamed tobe Irish. I am also very fucking relieved that I am emigrating soon, and getting the hell away from this backwards bloody country.

Badvocsanta Wed 14-Nov-12 12:42:48

And yet another reason I am pro choice.

MummytoKatie Wed 14-Nov-12 12:43:02

It's so sad. I feel so sad for the dad who a month ago thought he was going to be a husband and a father and now is neither.

I also don't think that this is pro life. Pro life is about saving as many lives as you can. Once the probability of the mother dying becomes greater than probability of baby surviving then the pro life action is to terminate and save the life you can.

In this case the probability of the poor baby living was effectively nil so she should have been offered a termination straight away. That would have saved a life.

(Not saying that that should be the law but that logic dictates that if you are 100% pro life and give mother and baby equal weight then this is how to maximise life.)

stillorsparkling Wed 14-Nov-12 12:43:11


Her family have stated that she asked repeatedly for a termination when it became clear that her foetus could not survive. She was left in severe pain for 4 days. On the 4th day the heartbeat stopped . By that stage she was actually sick. She died following surgery to remove the foetus

Sceptecemia is a well known although rare complication of prolonged miscarriage because the neck of the womb is left open allowing infection to enter. Had this woman been in the UK and she had gone to hospital it would have all been over in a few hours. Her life was placed at a known risk because under irish law until the Drs could say she would probabally die they could nto take any steps to end her pregnancy. They will say that because sceptcemia is relatively rare her life was not at serious risk so they could not take steps that would hasten the death of the foetus. The fact that as far as the foetus was concerned death was inevitable was irrelevant.

camaleon Wed 14-Nov-12 12:46:38

I understand that stillorsparkiling. What I am saying is that this is not a case where a woman (for whatever many reasons) seeks medical assistance for a termination. This is a woman, who knowing she cannot save the life of her child, asks for a termination. This is what I meant.

The fact that the death of the foetus is inevitable is relevant in my opinion. The doctors are following a regulation instead of a mandate to save a life.

galwaygal Wed 14-Nov-12 12:47:57

Again I ask - how does anyone know that the foetal death was inevitable? Have any of the news reports explained this?

MaryZezItsOnlyJustNovember Wed 14-Nov-12 12:48:48

In this particular case it isn't following the law that caused the woman's death.

The hospital made a mistake. They didn't diagnose that she had an infection. If they had, they could have treated that infection, as they are (and have been for years) allowed to treat women for illnesses even if the result is the death of the foetus.

For example, they are allowed to do a hysterectomy on a pregnant woman at risk from cervical cancer.

The hospital was negligent, imo.

verylittlecarrot Wed 14-Nov-12 12:50:34

Galwaygal your post is so full of confusion.

Her requesting a termination for three days isn't what put the doctors in a difficult position. It isn't this patient's responsibility to make the doctors feel comfortable.
The lack of legislation is what put them in a difficult position.

And as to the "how do we know the foetus wouldn't survive against all odds?" question?
Well, it seems the doctors were clear she was miscarrying at 17 weeks. It seems clear that she was infected, in pain, suffering and begging. This was a wanted baby from the start. That a mother should have to beg doctors to assist her as she miscarries a wanted baby is dreadful enough.

But a situation where there has to be an impossible burden of proof that the mother will "probably" die, and the baby is "probably" miscarrying is the situation that has created this abhorrent result. When you are dying, you shouldn't have to prove that you are dying before you receive medical care that civilised countries provide as a human right.

You cannot support criminalising terminations at all costs without understanding that this is the cost.

A woman should have the right to her own life, and the right to her own bodily integrity. At all costs.

TeaAndHugs Wed 14-Nov-12 12:50:41

Sick. The 17-week foetus had no chance of survival. Savita did. But the doctors did nothing.

The really tragic thing is that abortion to save the mother's life is legal under Irish law, but doctors are scared to act because there are no guidelines about when they can intervene without risking prosecution.

Sounds like there are several protests happening, in Ireland and in London, to ask the Irish govt to sort out the unclear abortion law. Anyone going to one?

MaryZezItsOnlyJustNovember Wed 14-Nov-12 12:52:44

It's actually much more simple that abortion/not abortion, imo.

They should have diagnosed and treated her infection earlier. Treating her infection would have involved the foetus being delivered/removed/whatever term you want to use.

Claiming the law stopped them from treating her is disingenuous.

Glitterknickaz Wed 14-Nov-12 12:53:16

The Independent report states it was clear to hospital staff that Savita was miscarrying.

ICBINEG Wed 14-Nov-12 12:54:59

This is just so very fucked up. Can someone remind me which millenium it is?

verylittlecarrot Wed 14-Nov-12 12:55:25

I assume that where the treatment involves causing the direct or indirect death of the foetus there is deemed to be a conflict of interest in the law, MaryZez.

Since the law deems both to have equal rights I believe.

brdgrl Wed 14-Nov-12 12:55:49

Clearly 'driving up to Belfast' in cases like this has been going on for so long that they have stopped caring about/for such people south of the border.

On the contrary. Northern Ireland's very first abortion clinic opened less than a month ago. It will offer abortions in the first nine weeks.

The UK's 1967 Abortion Act does not apply to Northern Ireland.

Some scans offered elsewhere are not available on NHS here, on the basis that even if (certain types of) abnormaility were suspected, termination would not be considered an option. Termination in a Northern Irish hospital happens only in cases where the mother's life is in imminent danger and must be approved by multiple doctors.

Like women in the Republic, women in the North have had to go to England for terminations.

morethanpotatoprints Wed 14-Nov-12 12:56:29

Poor woman, and my heart goes out to her family.

A stupid law, as nobody should have the right to tell another person they have to complete a pregnancy.
Its disgusting in this day and age. Those who support pro life should be ashamed as maybe this situation is not what they believe in, but as they still support this stupid law imo are part of the problem not the solution.

TeaAndHugs Wed 14-Nov-12 12:56:33

Galwaygal - the fetus was 17 weeks old. At that point, it has ZERO chance of survival outside the womb. Savita's cervix was already open and she was leaking amniotic fluid. There's no way back from that, labor is going to happen sooner or later. There's no way she could have clung on for another 7 weeks to reach viability.

galwaygal Wed 14-Nov-12 13:03:54

verylittlecarrot - Firstly to make it clear I in no way "support criminalising terminations at all costs". I think that criminalising terminations is wrong. But I also don't think all the facts have come out about what happened in this case and I think that people are making statements about the case without explaining where it came from.

My friend had her waters go at 17 weeks and the baby survived healthy, at this same hospital very recently - if this was the same situation with this woman how would the midwives know that miscarriage was inevitable? They had a success story fresh in their minds, my friend with waters gone at 17 weeks was given a 50/50 chance, surely this would have been the same odds given to this woman?

The woman became infected, however we don't know at what point this happened or if the hospital were failing to act in spotting the infection or treating it or the risk of it appropriately.

Yes I agree the lack of legislation is what put the doctors in a difficult situation. IF the doctors knew that the miscarriage was inevitable, then they have failed grossly in their duty to comply with the woman's wishes.

seeker Wed 14-Nov-12 13:11:19

Galwaygal- I'm sorry, but your friend's baby was not born healthy at 17 weeks gestation. This is just a medical impossibility.

verylittlecarrot Wed 14-Nov-12 13:13:01

galwaygal, I didn't mean you personally supporting criminalising abortions, rather Ireland's laws do this.
My point about whether the baby would survive is that it should be irrelevant. The fact that the law needs an amount of proof on this question is what puts womens' lives in danger.
Although, according to her husband, the doctors were not in any doubt in her particular case.
“The doctor told us the cervix was fully dilated, amniotic fluid was leaking and unfortunately the baby wouldn’t survive.” The doctor, he says, said it should be over in a few hours. There followed three days, he says, of the foetal heartbeat being checked several times a day.

“Savita was really in agony. She was very upset, but she accepted she was losing the baby. When the consultant came on the ward rounds on Monday morning Savita asked if they could not save the baby could they induce to end the pregnancy. The consultant said, ‘As long as there is a foetal heartbeat we can’t do anything’.

“Again on Tuesday morning, the ward rounds and the same discussion. The consultant said it was the law, that this is a Catholic country. Savita [a Hindu] said: ‘I am neither Irish nor Catholic’ but they said there was nothing they could do.

“That evening she developed shakes and shivering and she was vomiting. She went to use the toilet and she collapsed. There were big alarms and a doctor took bloods and started her on antibiotics.

“The next morning I said she was so sick and asked again that they just end it, but they said they couldn’t.”

This is so distressing.

Glitterknickaz Wed 14-Nov-12 13:15:56

To be fair I don't think Galway was saying the baby was born at 17 weeks, further up she states the pregnancy continued to 33 weeks.

To do that with no infection at that early gestation is very, very rare though.

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