Ann Marie Hourihane has an interesting piece in the Irish Times on how awkward it is for her to be in the US right now, because of all the shocked questions about how that hospital could have let Savita Halappanavar die rather than perform an abortion to complete the miscarriage that was already happening.
Perhaps America is tired of Ireland’s excuses. The sad bewilderment among liberals here, when they heard the news of Savita Halappanavar’s death in a Galway hospital in October, is worse than any aggression. The thing is, Americans just can’t understand why surgical treatment for a miscarriage can be withheld from a woman on the grounds that the foetal heart is still beating, when medical staff have already agreed that the pregnancy has no chance of survival, as is claimed to have happened in this case. This is proving rather difficult to explain.
Clearly very few Americans know this. That really needs to change.
It is surprising how much Americans know about Irish abortion law, or the lack of it. “The mother’s life has priority, right?” they ask. Since Wednesday there has been no clear answer to that question. Is it, “We would like to think so”? Is it, “Well, it depends on where you are in Ireland, and also where in Ireland the pregnant woman is at the time”? Or is it “Er, we’d prefer not to think about that, if you don’t mind. Now bung us a couple of call centres, and leave us in peace”?
But that’s true here too. The ERD says no, the mother’s life does not have priority no matter what. The US Council of Catholic Bishops says no, definitely not, and it tried to force St Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix to sign a written statement agreeing to that. The hospital refused. Not all hospitals refuse! And there is apparently no oversight, no enforcement, no one making sure that all hospitals give the mother’s life priority.
Americans really need to know this.