Firmly prohibited in Catholic hospitals

This again. The Savita Halappanavar scenario, in the US, in a Catholic hospital. It happens a lot but it seldom gets reported on. This one got reported on because the woman is a nurse. Most women this happens to aren’t nurses or doctors.

Jennifer had been experiencing heavy vaginal bleeding for over a week when she went to her physician’s office. He told her she was miscarrying and discussed her need for a dilation and curettage (D&C) to stop the bleeding and protect her health. A D&C is a procedure to empty the uterus; the same technique is used for both miscarriage management and abortion. [Read more…]

Just say no

I guess the Alabama legislature took a look at what happened to Savita Halappanavar at University Hospital Galway, and liked what they saw. They want that to happen to Alabama women too. From the ACLU blog:

All miscarriages can be devastating. But, for women in Alabama, this nightmare could soon get a lot worse. This week, the Alabama Senate is set to consider a cruel bill (HB 31) that would permit the hospital staff, including any doctor, nurse, counselor, or lab technician, to refuse to participate in any phase of patient medical care related to ending a pregnancy, even if that is what a patient like this woman needs to protect her own health and future fertility.

Yes, you heard that right. Under this law, if you or a loved one is pregnant and go to an emergency room in Alabama because of serious complications, every medical professional in that emergency room could refuse to help you if the care you needed to protect you from serious harm to your health required ending the pregnancy. [Read more…]

Don’t look behind the curtain

I’ve been arguing with someone on Atheist Ireland’s Facebook page, on a thread I started with a post about the ACLU/Means lawsuit against the bishops. My arguee has been claiming Savita Halappanavar’s death had nothing to do with abortion, and I’ve been saying it did too so. Her latest reply pointed out that “that was not a finding of the HIQA report or the Coroner’s report.” I hadn’t heard of the HIQA report, that I recall, so I looked it up. It came out on October 7th.

I skimmed the executive summary [pdf], and read the parts that addressed the medical treatment of SH. My arguee is right, assuming the summary accurately reflects the full report: it doesn’t spell out that the failure to induce delivery is the probable reason SH developed sepsis. It says the sepsis was badly managed, but not how or why it got started in the first place. It seems to me to be strikingly evasive in that way. [Read more…]


Yesssssssssss. It’s about fucking time.

USA Today: Woman sues over Catholic hospitals’ abortion rule

DETROIT — A Michigan woman is taking on the nation’s Catholic hospitals in federal court, alleging they are forcing pregnant women in crisis into having painful miscarriages rather than terminate the pregnancy — and not giving them any options.

The Muskegon woman, who developed an infection and miscarried 18 weeks into her pregnancy, sued the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on Monday, alleging the group’s anti-abortion directive denies proper medical care to women like herself.

In her case, the lawsuit said, the directive contributed to a painful miscarriage and offered her no options.

In other words, a potential Savita Halappanavar, with the difference being that she survived. [Read more…]

Where else are women denied an input into their care?

A talk show on RTE today, Marian Finucane, featured Dr Peter Boylan, the expert witness at the inquest into the death of Savita Halappanavar, and Breda O’Brien, Irish Times columnist and patron of the Iona Institute. The Iona Institute is a reactionary Catholic group. has already done a transcript, which is helpful.

Boylan said something quite striking…

And we cannot, as doctors, be expected to do our ward rounds with a calculator in one hand and the law in another hand. We have to be given the liberty to do what we feel is best for a patient and in this…These circumstances are the only circumstances in obstetric care where a woman’s wishes are not taken into account. Where she has no input into her care. Now if you think of any other sort of situation like that you end up talking about the Taliban. Where else are women denied an input into their care? [Read more…]

Savita Halappanavar would probably be alive now if she had had that termination

That’s what Dr Peter Boylan, the former master of Ireland’s National Maternity Hospital, told the inquest today.

Dr Peter Boylan said that if Ms Halappanavar had been given a termination on the Monday or Tuesday, one or two days after she was admitted last October 21st, she would “on the balance of probabilities”, still be alive.

“It is highly likely she would not have died” if she had been given a termination earlier, he added.

However, terminating her pregnancy was not a practical proposition for the doctors treating her at this time because of the legal situation in Ireland, he said. [Read more…]

Wait until the woman is on the edge of death

Let’s look at a little more

Some Catholic hospitals, contrary to the opinion of leading Catholic ethicists and theologians, apply the Directives to prohibit doctors from providing any treatment to a woman having a miscarriage if there are still fetal heart tones, even when a doctor has determined that nothing can be done to save the pregnancy and the woman’s health is placed at risk by delaying immediate treatment. These hospitals will require that doctors withhold treatment until there are no fetal heart tones, or there are specific indications that a woman’s life is at risk, such as the onset of a serious infection.

You see? Or there are specific indications that a woman’s life is at risk, such as the onset of a serious infection. That’s what happened in Savita’s case. There were specific indications, and by that time it was too god damn late. [Read more…]

Wednesday at the inquest

Fergal Bowers reporting for RTE, again.

The consulting obstetrician said there were system failures.

Dr Katherine Astbury said Mrs Halappanavar’s clinical signs were not checked every four hours after her membranes ruptured, which was a breach of hospital policy.

She told the inquest that when Mrs Halappanavar requested a termination from her on the morning of 23 October, she outlined the legal position to her.

She said that Mrs Halappanavar had told her she was finding it very upsetting and difficult given that the ultimate outcome would be that her baby would not survive.

Dr Astbury told her “in this country it is not legal to terminate a pregnancy on the grounds of poor prognosis for a foetus”. [Read more…]

Tuesday at the inquest

Fergal Bowers reports for RTE.

A midwife who was working on the ward where Savita Halappanavar was being treated has given evidence at the inquest into her death.

Miriam Dunleavy told the Coroner’s Court in Galway that entries were put into Mrs Halappanavar’s medical notes by the hospital’s internal investigation.

Coroner Dr Ciaran McLoughlin raised questions as to the appropriateness of this.

Yes that does sound slightly inappropriate.

Dr Katherine Astbury also testified.

In a detailed chronological account of the treatment she provided, Dr Astbury said that she had requested an ultrasound on Monday 22 October after Mrs Halappanavar’s membranes ruptured.

On the following day when she asked for medication to assist a miscarriage, she said she told Mrs Halappanavar that the Irish legal position did not allow her to carry out a termination at that time, as there was no risk to her life or health. [Read more…]

No threat to Savita’s life

And there’s RTE’s account.

Praveen Halappanavar said they asked for a termination three times over two days.

The inquest has been told that the evidence from Dr Astbury will be that there was only one discussion about a termination of pregnancy and it was on Tuesday 23 October.

Dr Astbury says a termination was not warranted at that time, as there was no threat to Savita’s life and so no reason to consider an abortion.

According to Dr Jennifer Gunter (an OB-GYN) that’s bullshit; there was a threat to Savita’s life. [Read more…]