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Ireland: Woman denied termination dies in hospital

(149 Posts)
WidowWadman Wed 14-Nov-12 00:42:25

FFS - how is that defensible in any way shape or form? My thoughts go out to her family.

TeaAndHugs Wed 14-Nov-12 12:46:19

Sick. Other people's religious beliefs should never take precedence over someone's life.

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?

AbigailAdams Wed 14-Nov-12 12:46:25

Further to math's link Here is one where Irish doctors are saying ther is no medical need for terminations to save a woman's life. hmm I suspect Savita Halappanavar (and lets name her because she is a person) thought differently.

She requested a termination. Her life was in danger. It should have been granted. It wasn't.

bureni Wed 14-Nov-12 12:54:27

Ireland has always been governed by the church who instill their rules by fear, its a backward country that will hopefully change now that it is practically governed from Brussels and hopefully it take take itself out of the 18th century and get with the program a little. Thousands of women have been forced to live in workhouses in Ireland over the years through being raped and have their children removed from them,this countries laws need a total rethink leaving their antiquated and backward religion behind them.

sashh Wed 14-Nov-12 13:10:16


The cervix works to keep a pregnancy in and infection out during pregnancy.

When the cervix is fully dilated it is easy for an infection to get in. It's basically the same as having a deep cut that is open to the air.

Savita's cervix was fully dilated for at least three days. Had the contents of her uterus been emptied, naturally or by D and C then her cervix would have closed cutting off the route of infection.

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

You know, something I find terrifying about this is, in the past people would have been so thankful and amazed to be able to do what we can do today, medically, to help a woman who is dying during pregnancy.

Devoutly Catholic people in times past would have been immensely thankful to find out how to help a woman who was clearly miscarrying and dying.

It's only now that the Church and the anti-abortion lobby have decided to define an ever-expanding range of things as 'abortion', including it seems helping a woman who's miscarrying not to die, that we've lost sight of that.

sashh Wed 14-Nov-12 13:33:51

I think many of the prolifers don't think. It's all poor baby being killed, no thought about the situation at all.

It's the same with the ones who say you can have an abortion if you have been raped. Well it takes a year or longer to go from the report to the court so at what point do you let a woman have an abortion? What if her rapist is never cought?

EmmelineGoulden Wed 14-Nov-12 13:47:53

When I was pregnant in the US and thought I was miscarrying at 12 weeks I called my doctor. She asked me a few questions - none of which seemed to me to be about saving my baby. It was only after everything was over that I realised I was right. She hadn't been focused on saving the pregnancy, in fact she hadn't really cared aout the life of the foetus at that point, she had been focused entirely on making sure I wasn't about to die. Although I was shocked while it was happening, in retrospect I was hugely relieved and it made me feel better about trying again.

I just can't imagine how awful it must be to be a patient somewhere where you aren't the focus of treatment. Where you don't have bodily autonomy. Where your medical team don't actually care, medically, about you. Where you can be put at risk of suffering and death because of someone else's foul ethics.

Can you see it happening to men - "We know you need this drug to survive, but we only have one dose and there are several other patients currently in vegatative states who would need the drug if they woke up, so we're not going to give you the drug until they're dead. Just in case. Don't worry. it's all part of God's plan."

TeiTetua Wed 14-Nov-12 14:10:27

The BBC story has this note:

"The Irish Supreme Court ruled that the mother and child have an equal right to life... However, no government has enacted legislation to give certainty to doctors as to when terminations can be carried out and under what circumstances.

Politicians privately admit this is due to a belief on their part that people in the Irish Republic don't want abortion in Ireland as long as there's a British solution to the country's abortion problem."

So there you are. She should have headed off to England and got her problems sorted out there.

summerflower Wed 14-Nov-12 14:26:28

>>No, in Ireland doctors are allowed to perform an abortion if the woman's life is in danger.<<

The point is that this was an incomplete miscarriage, surely, with all the attendant risks. Different from an induced abortion, I would have thought.

LRDtheFeministDragon Wed 14-Nov-12 14:37:07

Yes, absolutely, summer. I was just saying in response to mayor claiming that the doctors may have been following legal procedure. They may have thought that's what they were doing, but they weren't.

mayorquimby Wed 14-Nov-12 15:01:29

Well the problem is that the x case has never been legislated for, the medical profession appear to sing off a different hymn sheet and its not quite clear if the threat to the mothers life was apparent.
I don't know what legal advice has been given to doctors or what sort of guidelines they're taught in their training, so it is quite possible that they've been mislead or left high and dry by a system and a society which has continuously used the boat to England as our get out for not tackling the issue of abortion so we can remain on our high horse.

As I've said more info may emerge which shows the doctors to have acted horrifically as individuals, but for the moment it would appear to be a situation which is also failing medical practitioners.

Even given this I'm not sure a referendum to legalise abortion would pass.

LRDtheFeministDragon Wed 14-Nov-12 15:24:14

It has been legislated for, mayor - what do you mean? confused

It was apparent the mother's life was in danger. Miscarriage is dangerous.

I'm sorry, but I don't follow your post at all and a bit of me is quite angry you would write that this is 'the' problem: to me, 'the problem' is that a woman has died after she was refused potentially life saving treatment, because she does not have power over her own body. That is 'the problem' here.

mayorquimby Wed 14-Nov-12 15:27:13

What legislation covers the termination of pregnancies where the mothers life is in danger?

LRDtheFeministDragon Wed 14-Nov-12 15:28:04

As I said, I think the articles cover it, mayor. Sorry, not going to look it up but I'm sure it wouldn't be in all the papers if it wasn't true.

mayorquimby Wed 14-Nov-12 15:34:59

Case law based on the interpretation of the constitution allows for it but I'm not sure any legislation has been enacted. Hence my point that the problem for doctors is that they've been left in legal and medical limbo because we as a society has failed to address the issue of abortion because we've passed the buck and relied on the boat over to England.

If there has been legislation then that's my mistake but as far as I'm aware there's not.
Doctors know that there's a case that says where the mothers life is in critical danger an aborttion is permitted, but nothing has been defined as to what constitutes such a threat etc. and so doctors are unclear as to their legal exposure if they were to perform such a procedure

AnyFucker Wed 14-Nov-12 15:49:03

MQ, I am not understanding your point. Or perhaps I am not understanding your question.

It is clear in all medical training that a woman suffering an incomplete miscarriage (which Savita did as she was in agony and symptomatic for at least 3 days) with an open cervix is at risk of infection and the sequel of septicaemia if the remaining tissue in her uterus is not removed.

IMO, the medical team caring for her broke their Hippocratic Oath, which to me, in the first instance means "to do no harm". The "threat" is well documented in medical literature, a quick google will take you straight there.

KRITIQ Wed 14-Nov-12 15:55:58

Which means that there is an URGENT need to clarify that legal position.

If what you are suggesting is true, you could have a doctor who performs a termination, believing this is necessary to save the life of the woman, but is later prosecuted for carrying out an unlawful abortion.

You could have another doctor who refuses to perform an termination on a woman whose life is clearly at risk, but will hide behind the opacity of the law to defend his inaction, even where the patient dies.

It's quite simply not acceptable to have a situation where it is basically up to the discretion of the doctor whether they intervene to save a patient's life or leave them, knowing the result is that quite likely they will die.

I refuse to accept that any doctor, even a doctor in the Irish medical establishment, is ignorant of data on the mortality rates for women not given essential, emergency treatment in the event of an incomplete miscarriage. If they say they "didn't know the clinical risks," then they didn't have the competence to be practising medicine, frankly.

AnyFucker Wed 14-Nov-12 15:59:21

Precisely, kritiq. I am not an obstetrician, but I know this. We all know this. I object to someone throwing doubt on these facts

LRDtheFeministDragon Wed 14-Nov-12 16:02:41

TBH, I don't think it is possible to clarify the legislation in any humane way, because the legislation is already fucked up.

But yes, it's impossible the medics didn't know this stuff.

TeiTetua Wed 14-Nov-12 16:05:23

Maybe I'd be wiser not to get involved, but as I see it:

We're seeing this from hindsight, where the woman was denied a termination, developed an infection, and died. But the doctors couldn't predict the future. They knew that the woman was in danger, but they didn't know what would happen. Maybe "most" women in that situation wouldn't get infected, or could be cured. Whereas if they did the termination, they'd be killing the foetus, for sure and certain. And even if under the circumstances the doctors wouldn't be prosecuted, they'd still have to face the rest of the staff at the hospital, in a society where (officially) abortion is illegal and abhorrent--"This is the doctor who performed an abortion when s/he didn't absolutely have to." Of course the doctor could point to the patient who recovered, but if events turned out that way, there'd be no way to prove that her life had been saved. She might have recovered anyway.

It's a miserable ethical situation for the medical staff. They ought to be backed up by a law and a society that lets them do the right thing, but I can't see that coming.

LRDtheFeministDragon Wed 14-Nov-12 16:14:34

But they said they knew the foetus could not survive.

It is difficult, I agree, but that to me makes it worse, and not better.

This sort of event is inevitable if you enact laws like Ireland's.

AnyFucker Wed 14-Nov-12 16:15:56

There are medical tests (not banned by religion) that will tell you that someone's infection is developing along a worrying route. They would have known the likely outcome of what they were doing (actively denying her the correct treatment) would be her death.

TeiTetua Wed 14-Nov-12 16:27:05

AF--that's an emotional response and maybe also a logical one, but legally irrelevant. If there were someone who's terminally ill, you can't say "Let's kill them because their death removes danger from someone else, and it's all right because they only have a short time to live anyway". People have rights as long as they're alive, and in Ireland they say a foetus has rights equal to a person. We don't agree with that, but it's the way things are there. In their system, they had to let the foetus survive as long as it could, and then get on with saving the mother, if possible.

TeiTetua Wed 14-Nov-12 16:28:29

Sorry, I said "AF" but I was really addressing LRDtheFeministDragon's statement "they said they knew the foetus could not survive".

AnyFucker Wed 14-Nov-12 16:35:03

<phew > I was just sat there trying to frame a reply to you in the context of what I said. And failing miserably.

I think I would fail miserably at a totally reasoned argument here, tbh because I feel so viscerally that what happened here was wrong and barbaric, and there is absolutely no getting away from an emotional response to that.

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