Theology killed Savita Halappanavar

Nice work, Ireland. The Bishop of Phoenix, Thomas Olmsted, must be feeling very proud of you this morning. In Ireland, hospitals damn well do what the church tells them to do, and let women die rather than terminating a miscarrying pregnancy.

Savita Halappanavar died of septicaemia at University Hospital Galway a couple of weeks ago, because she had a miscarriage and the hospital refused to abort the dying fetus.

Her husband, Praveen Halappanavar, an engineer at Boston Scientific in Galway, says she asked several times over a three-day period that the pregnancy be terminated. He says that, having been told she was miscarrying, and after one day in severe pain, Ms Halappanavar asked for a medical termination.

This was refused, he says, because the foetal heartbeat was still present and they were told, “this is a Catholic country”.

She spent a further 2½ days “in agony” until the foetal heartbeat stopped.

This was a hospital. Not a church. Not the pope’s living room. A hospital.

Mr Halappanavar said an internal examination was performed when she first presented.

“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.”

She was extremely ill, she was sick and in pain, they knew how to cure her, and they refused to do it. She asked them to and they refused. No, they said. We won’t. You just have to stay sick and get sicker. We refuse to treat you. This is a hospital, we are doctors, and we refuse to treat you.