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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.

AbigailAdams Wed 14-Nov-12 16:50:06

They knew the foetus wouldn't survive. They knew there was a real and impending risk of infection and therefore a threat to her life. They did nothing. And they let her suffer in the meantime. And they let her die.

KRITIQ Wed 14-Nov-12 17:03:10

I know this probably isn't a great analogy, but maybe it's somewhat similar to the following scenario.

There has been an earthquake. A building has collapsed and two people are trapped under the rubble.

Doctors have assessed the condition of the first person and determined that their condition is poor, worsening by the hour and their prospects of survival are virtually non-existent.

They have also assessed the condition of a second person, who is very ill, but could quite likely be saved if they are able to get them out from under the rubble and treat them.

However, because of how they are positioned, moving the rubble from the 2nd person will almost certainly mean that the first person, whom they know will die soon whatever they do, will almost certainly die immediately.

Do you remove the rubble to save the second person, who risks dying the longer you delay extracting them? Or, do you wait until the first person's heart has definitely stopped beating to remove the rubble and save the second person?

At any point, of course, the rubble could shift and both people could die immediately. This risk increases the longer you delay the rescue. The chance of the second person surviving specifically increases the longer you delay the rescue.

What do you do?

grimbletart Wed 14-Nov-12 17:28:56

Comment to Channel 4 News tonight by pro-lifer Ruth Cullen.

"It is also vitally important to acknowledge at this time that Ireland, without induced abortion, is recognised by the UN and World Health Organisation as a world leader in protecting women in pregnancy and is safer than places like Britain and Holland where abortion is widely available."

Epic fail then in this case sad

AnyFucker Wed 14-Nov-12 17:41:05

kritiq, the only answer I can make to your thought-provoking analogy is ...

what do you do ?

"you change the law so that only natural disasters, that cannot ever be foreseen, have the power to put people in the position of having to make that terrible decision"

AnyFucker Wed 14-Nov-12 17:44:18

Is Ruth Cullen opining then, that letting women take their chances with septicaemia is safer ? confused

TeiTetua Wed 14-Nov-12 17:45:19

I tend to just shrug at those artificial ethical dilemmas. Maybe it's more moral not to have an answer.

Anyway, if there's any creative outcome from this tragedy, it might be to wake people in Ireland up to what their laws and their attitudes lead to.

AnyFucker Wed 14-Nov-12 17:46:21

Amen TT

grimbletart Wed 14-Nov-12 17:53:11

Dunno AF - I rather think she is flailing around and grasping at any nearby straws.

EmmelineGoulden Wed 14-Nov-12 18:09:56

I don't find it a good analogy because I don't think a foetus is person. But accepting that the law in Ireland does, I think the analogy would be better if the question at the end isn't "what do you do?", but rather "Is it murder to take actions intended to save person one when those actions will kill person two?"

AnyFucker Wed 14-Nov-12 19:05:07

me too, GT

chipmonkey Wed 14-Nov-12 19:10:08

Lots of us in Ireland already awake, thanks TT.

LRDtheFeministDragon Wed 14-Nov-12 19:38:32

Agree, emmeline, about the issue with that analogy.

I have to say, I also think there is a huge issue about death that is occuring inside someone's body and poisoning her. That is a specifically female issue - any analogy to the death of a person (or if you're anti-abortion, a person outside the womb) is going to be missing an important part because in this situation, by insisting this women could not have a medical termination, they were insisting she should experience everything that went with having her baby die inside her.

That is not someone else's choice to make.

AnyFucker Wed 14-Nov-12 20:11:32

There is no male equivalent to this, is there ? I cannot think of one anyway. Ergo, men have no say in it. None at all.

LRDtheFeministDragon Wed 14-Nov-12 20:14:54

No, there really isn't. Imagine if men who had prostate cancer were refused surgery because it might affect their future children. Never going to happen.

(I am aware that the loss of a pregnancy is not comparable to cancer: I am simply unable to find any other analogy. Please excuse that. I'm not trying to compare the two; I'm trying to say they are not thinkable comparisons.)

summerflower Wed 14-Nov-12 21:16:56

I'm struggling to see why this is being framed in terms of Savita being denied a medical termination/abortion. She was miscarrying, the miscarriage was inevitable, if the cervix is open or your waters have broken before viability, it is called an inevitable abortion - in other words, it was happening anyway. She was denied an appropriate medical response to the inevitable abortion she was experiencing, she wasn't denied an abortion.

To say that she was denied a termination suggests that she wanted to end the pregnancy and the foetus had a chance. It did not. The doctors (wrongly) brought their views on foetal personhood into the clinical decision making when they were treating a clearly septic miscarriage, and failed to provide appropriate clinical intervention. Savita wanted appropriate medical intervention.

Does that distinction make sense? It is bothering me, because even the MN link in the top right hand says 'Woman refused abortion dies'. No, she was having an inevitable abortion (miscarriage), which had started, was progressing and she was refused appropriate treatment.

Why does it matter? Because women have miscarriages, they are natural, we can do nothing about them, we rely on the medical profession to treat them as a medical emergency when necessary. Miscarriage (and its treatment) should be separate from the pro-life/choice debate.

grimbletart Wed 14-Nov-12 22:22:53

I agree in principle Summerflower that this should have been a straightforward medical emergency decision, but the problem is that, if the reports are correct, the clinicians did not treat it as a medical emergency but made it an abortion issue when they told her that they could not give her the treatment she asked for i.e. to give her the treatment that would bring the miscarriage to a speedy conclusion.

This was, they said, because Ireland is a Catholic country and they could do nothing because the foetus's heart was still beating. So, it is not the media or mumsnetters making it about abortion it was the doctors themselves.

summerflower Wed 14-Nov-12 22:48:10

Of course, grimbletart, I agree with that. You are right, it was the doctors in question who (wrongly, imo) turned it into an abortion issue, but the media and MN are colluding with that, if you like. It is medical negligence which ended in tragedy, because the doctors saw it as an abortion issue, but if we start debating it as an abortion issue - i.e. on their terms, I think that could obscure the clear medical negligence.

I don't know, I am struggling to explain what I mean.

AnyFucker Wed 14-Nov-12 23:20:33

It's very difficult to articulate, because too much emotion gets in the way, for me that is true.

LRDtheFeministDragon Wed 14-Nov-12 23:38:26

I think I get what you mean summer.

I think, if this woman had been somewhere where abortion was legal, we would never be referring to it as 'abortion'. We'd be sad for her loss and we'd see this as the medical procedure at the end of her miscarriage.

It seems utterly disrespectful, to me, of the emotional sense of a 'baby', that they decided to term this an 'abortion' issue when apparently she wanted the baby but knew she was miscarrying.

chipmonkey Wed 14-Nov-12 23:51:57

I think the problem is really that there is no legislation.
I find it absurd for example that if a person is in an accident here and there is no brain activity, that care is withdrawn, so that the person stops breathing and the heart stops beating.
However, in the case of a foetus/baby with anencephaly, here the woman is expected to carry that baby to term or until it dies and by dying, they mean the heart has stopped beating, regardless of the fact that the baby can never have any brain activity.
There really is just no logic in that.

We have had referendum after referendum. But all the people can change is the constitution. It is up to government to make the laws and time after time, they have delayed and fudged until their government term ends and they can pass the whole sorry mess to another goverment. Until their is another high profile case after which they usually just hold another referendum.

In poor Savita's case, it seems to me that constitutionally there was provision for her to have a termination but no medical legal guidelines for the doctors. So they went with "there's still a heartbeat" rather than "this foetus isn't viable and the mother's life is at risk.

With both ds3 and dd, they were born at 32 weeks and 28 weeks respectively. I had crash sections which were done to save my life. So my obs took ds3 and dd out of my body when they were viable but tiny in order to save me but these doctors wouldn't take Savita's baby out in order to save her life because the baby wasn't viable?? It makes no sense at all.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Thu 15-Nov-12 00:04:12

Powerful post chipmonkey.

GrimmaTheNome Thu 15-Nov-12 00:12:08

Chip - you are right, it makes no sense. It lacks both wisdom and compassion.

bureni Thu 15-Nov-12 00:22:54

Chip, there is legislation, its basically our way or the highway. These bastards think they are a law onto themselves in every walk of life, it is one of the most corrupt governments I have ever seen. They need knocked down a few pegs or six and if they fail to comply simply stop bailing the bastards out on a daily basis.

chipmonkey Thu 15-Nov-12 00:25:01

I do think that people have been too complacent though. Because we do export the issue to the UK and a lot of women quietly take Ryanair flights to the UK because mostly it's not a medical emergency and she has a little time to plan.
But here, there was a medical emergency and no law to provide for it.

chipmonkey Thu 15-Nov-12 00:30:04

But not proper, clear-cut legislation, bureni. I don't recall any white papers, any bills being passed. This woman needed an act having been passed, saying that as the pregnancy was not viable, and her life was in danger, that she was entitled to have that foetus removed without delay. But there's nothing.

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