Yes, it is a sin

Cristina Odone is worried. What’s she worried about? She’s worried that Ireland is planning to change its abortion law – to legalize abortion when it’s necessary to save the woman’s life – on the basis of a mistake about what happened to Savita Halappanavar. Oh noes!

I’m a Catholic but I believe abortion has to be legal. Yes, it is a sin; and yes, there are women who use it as contraception. But the risk of having a long roll call of tragic deaths like Savita’s is too cruel to contemplate. Like divorce, abortion should be available, but reserved as a last-resort nuclear option – and when the mother’s life is in danger is precisely such a scenario.

The Irish U-turn over Savita’s death worries me, though. Is this the right result based on the wrong premise? As I have written here before, listening to the radio interview with the journalist who broke the story, we’re left with the distinct impression that she is not sure that Savita or her husband actually asked for, and were refused, a termination. Nor does she explain what condition the mother-to-be was in when she was admitted to hospital: in other words, was she healthy and her death was preventable by an abortion, or was she suffering from some other condition, which eventually killed her?

And that’s the thing to worry about, clearly. Could Parveen Halappanavar be all wrong, or lying, about what happened at Galway University Hospital? Or could Savita have had some other mortal illness that had nothing to do with her pregnancy and that nobody knew about or mentioned to Praveen? That’s the thing to worry about, rather than the possibility (or likelihood) that this has happened many times in Ireland without a Praveen to go to the media about it, and rather than the need to make sure it doesn’t happen in the future.

That kind of thinking is the real “sin.”