Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Catholic Religious Tyranny Takes A Mother's Life In Ireland

Irish Times photo by Brenda Fitzsimmons of protesters Wednesday night outside Ireland's Dail
The following is a very very sad story. It should be read by every woman of child bearing age in the US, because if Roman Catholic bishops and Evangelical Pro Life proponents ever get their theocratic way, this situation could and most like will happen in all our hospitals, and not just Catholic ones.
Savita Halappanavar was not Irish and was not Catholic, but like many Irish Catholic women she found Catholic hospital care neither hospitable nor caring.  Not when it comes to pregnant women.  For them the heart beat of a non viable fetus holds their lives hostage to the absolutism of Catholic abortion teaching.  The following is from the Irish Times.

Woman 'denied a termination' dies in hospital

 Kitty Holland and Paul Curren - Irish Times - 11/14/2012
Two investigations are under way into the death of a woman who was 17 weeks pregnant, at University Hospital Galway last month.
Savita Halappanavar (31), a dentist, presented with back pain at the hospital on October 21st, was found to be miscarrying, and died of septicaemia a week later.
Her husband, Praveen Halappanavar (34), 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.

Intensive care

The dead foetus was removed and Savita was taken to the high dependency unit and then the intensive care unit, where she died of septicaemia on the 28th.
An autopsy carried out by Dr Grace Callagy two days later found she died of septicaemia “documented ante-mortem” and E.coli ESBL.

A hospital spokesman confirmed the Health Service Executive had begun an investigation while the hospital had also instigated an internal investigation. He said the hospital extended its sympathy to the family and friends of Ms Halappanavar but could not discuss the details of any individual case.
Speaking from Belgaum in the Karnataka region of southwest India, 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.”

Critically ill

At lunchtime the foetal heart had stopped and Ms Halappanavar was brought to theatre to have the womb contents removed. “When she came out she was talking okay but she was very sick. That’s the last time I spoke to her.”
At 11 pm he got a call from the hospital. “They said they were shifting her to intensive care. Her heart and pulse were low, her temperature was high. She was sedated and critical but stable. She stayed stable on Friday but by 7pm on Saturday they said her heart, kidneys and liver weren’t functioning. She was critically ill. That night, we lost her.”
Mr Halappanavar took his wife’s body home on Thursday, November 1st, where she was cremated and laid to rest on November 3rd.
The hospital spokesman said that in general sudden hospital deaths were reported to the coroner. In the case of maternal deaths, a risk review of the case was carried out.
External experts were involved in this review and the family consulted on the terms of reference. They were also interviewed by the review team and given a copy of the report.


As I write this there are major protests occurring in Ireland and elsewhere.  More are scheduled for the weekend. Irish legistlators who mandated the fetal heart beat rule, the very one used in American Catholic hositals, never thought a thing like this could happen.  Not in Catholic Ireland.  Well it did, and it can happen again, and it can happen in any Catholic hospital whose staff let their bishop make their medical decisions for them.

It is the very kind of situation that prompted Phoenix's St Joseph hospital to act on their own initiative and save the life of the mother when the fetus couldn't survive with or without the mother.  For saving a life a bishop excommunicated the director of the ethics board.  St Joseph's is no longer a Catholic affiliated hospital by order of the same bishop. They are free to act on accepted medical ethics. I have no doubt that Ireland will re evaluate both it's legislation regarding abortion and it's foundation in inhumane Catholic absolutism.  This was a woman who held no Catholic beliefs but still died needlessly because of Catholic beliefs.  That seems fundamentally wrong in a modern democratic nation. 

It makes me sick that in this case, and I grant it's unique, that a woman lived three days in agony because a medical staff refused to act on their certain medical knowledge because a law was based on a moral absolutism which took any medical decisions out of their hands.  That is unless they wanted to do the truly humane and Christian thing and break the law.  They should have. 



  1. I've been reading about this elsewhere and it's a grief and a scandal.

    Let us all remember in our prayers the precious life of the unborn child, which in no way could have been saved - and the equally precious life of the mother which could have been saved and was not.

    Comfort, dear Lord, the grieving family of this woman.

    Rest eternal grant to them O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace.

    Now, give us the grace and strength to challenge the mindset that permitted the death of this woman to happen. Canon Law simply was not written to deal with this sort of circumstance, and the speed at which it changes (or fails to change) is not sufficient.

    1. From the ACP website:

      Jim McCrea

    2. Jim. Thanks, that was a good read. Yet, I have also read other Canon Lawyers who dispute this interpretattion and I can think of at least a dozen bishops who would never make it practice in their dioceses.

  2. I listened in on conversations between my mother and the woman who lived next door back when I was a young kid. I learned lots about life this way. The neighbor lady happened to be both Catholic and an RN. And I remember to this day [this was back in the early 70's] the woman telling my mother about how women used to be told to avoid Catholic hospitals/doctors/medical practitioners especially if they were pregnant or thought they might be. I think it is time we started warning our young women in this very way again. Loudly and repeatedly. I know in many places a person doesn't have much choice if they need hospital care [I'm lucky in that the town I live in the local hospital is owned by the town and while there is a Catholic presence in the clinic I used to go to, I've found another clinic without that taint.] Medical care and medical ethics should be determined by trusted medical professionals and the patients who see them. Outsiders need not apply IMHO.

    The disposability of women to the Catholic hierarchy under canon law is a disgrace and an entrenched institutional sin.

    1. Holy Cross is expanding in Maryland and there were similar scary warnings about abused, even murdered pregnant women at Catholic hospitals posted by anonymous hospital personnel in Washington Post articles. I suspect this holy Munchausen by Proxy malpractice against women is a massive, hidden scandal at RCC hospitals, who cover up preventable high maternal mortality rates with colluding authorities. It's also very telling that Ms. Halappanavar was even denied pain medication. I hope the doctors lose their licenses and do jail.

    2. I wonder sometimes why our bishops think they can determine actual medical practice based not on medical principles, but natural law principles. It's not like any of them can wave their croziers and women are saved and babies live.

  3. "It should be read by every woman of child bearing age in the US, because if Roman Catholic bishops and Evangelical Pro Life proponents ever get their theocratic way, this situation could and most like will happen in all our hospitals, and not just Catholic ones."

    I disagree. It should be read by all *people* because no death is an isolated thing. Husbands and fathers ought to have just as much concern on this issue, even if it isn't their lives at stake. Let's change this, together.

    1. Would really be impressed if you and this site had the same horror and outrage over the 27,000,000 females that have been aborted in the US since '73. Oh that is right, mere tissue. Those females don't count when your ideology (and not the female) is primary.

    2. And this makes it OK for women to die preventable, painful deaths because they happen to be pregnant. And this is pro-life. Sure. Got it.

      Or did you miss the part where the fetus in this case simply wasn't going to make it through a birth?

    3. Yes, Anonymous, I think you should think before you type & judge all of us. I am not personally in favour of abortions. Do you know why? I'm adopted. Through a Catholic adoption agency. My birth mother was 17. By the Grace of God she chose to give me life, and through adoption a pretty blessed and wonderful one at that. I suggest you do not presume to know me or my ideologies based on one internet comment.

      Secondly, as the two other replies have implied, where is the love for the already living? If we are to love life, that should include the life of the mother. Surely, and especially in this case, saving one life (that of the mother, the child was doomed) is better than losing two? That seems like simple math to me.

      Finally, here's my take on it. I am not for abortion, but I understand and appreciate the need for it in cases like this, and the other situations that are also often brought up. I believe that it's my duty as a Catholic to love & support people who have to deal with making that hard decision. It is not up to me to judge them, to hate them, or to otherwise condemn them. God alone judges, and he will judge us all justly...including "pro lifers" for the hate they seem to tend to spread. I have no doubt that He is wiser than I am, and so I will stay out of His way. I will also focus on my own shortcomings, not the *perceived* shortcomings of others.

    4. Heil, Adam, et al., Yes, love indeed. Have you looked at the heading of this blog post? Have you read previous posts and the comments by others on this site over time. Not much love for specific Catholics and plenty of name-calling, judging, and contempt. I am just feeling the love ooze from HeilMary's not full of grace comment directed at me, which this site typically launches at members of the hierarchy. No shortage of snarkiness from these self-professed enlightened Catholics. The fact that I wish the 27,000,000 aborted females had not been killed really shows my contempt for women (sarc). I apparently hate women so much that I want millions more. Good advice and backatcha, "Think before you type and judge."

      Now for my post. I made no comment or judgment about the tragic situation in Ireland. I said nothing about the Church's role in this situation or the death of the woman. I said nothing about incubators or pedophilia. So read it again as the intelligent person you want to portray yourself. It is not hard to understand if you use your noodle and are one of this blog’s ‘enlightened ones’. You still won't like it but at least your next response will be on point.

    5. Anonymous, I wish my childbirth-ruined mom had aborted me instead of disfiguring me when I was in first grade as her permanent abstinence excuse to avoid another deadly NFP scam failure. No life at all is better than my decades as a despised, publicly bullied freak. You misogynists only want us born so we can suffer hellish lives for YOUR selfish sins. You complain about abortion, but oppose avoiding it through effective contraception and sterilization. NFP is a mother-killing, husband-outsourcing pedophile priest scam, but you're OK with the misery it imposes. You're OK with the RCC's barbaric symphysiotomies to avoid "contraceptive" c-sections. You're OK with the RCC torching 9 million mid-wives and pregnancy-scarred "witches". You're OK with Cardinal Montini (Paul VI) funding the Nazi Catholic Croatian Ustashi genocide of 1 MILLION Serb Christian "heretics" in WWII, including pregnant women and their "heretic" fetuses.
      You definitely have no grace or love for anyone other than corrupt pious perps.

    6. "Would really be impressed if you and this site had the same horror and outrage over the 27,000,000 females that have been aborted in the US since '73. Oh that is right, mere tissue. Those females don't count when your ideology (and not the female) is primary. "

      That's your comment, so let's break it down shall we? Nobody had said they weren't horrified or outraged over the abortions carried out. You made that assumption about us, while we were discussing a different topic. That, to me, seems fairly judgmental yes.

      Ah yes, and the sarcasm came out as well! "That's right, mere tissue." Did *anyone* say anything about 'mere tissue' to that point? If I've missed it, please do point it out. However given I don't think I did miss it, that was a pretty pointed and accusatory attack on others here. Bear in mind we hadn't actually said anything about your ideology at that point.

      Given this, I'd say my response was in fact quite on point. You clearly think of yourself as intelligent, and I'm not going to dispute that. What I will say is, don't alienate people because of assumptions you've made. Stop and think and question. Maybe we disagree about what the true message of the Church is or should be, and that's fine...but saying my comment is not on point was horribly off the point.

    7. Adam your response was right on. The introduction of 27,000,000 females that have been aborted was a red herring purposely introduced to demean the blog and it's commenters.

      My post is not about abortion per se as it is about an absolutist position that is take to the extreme of relegating a mother's life as less than that of a fetus who can not survive outside the uterus. This particular problem is a real problem for absolute abortion position, and one that isn't going to go away because of broadside attacks on those who point it out. Not too mention the fact such a stance needlessly kills many women globally.

  4. I do not have much expertise on the issue of abortion. Way back in seminary days I tried to inform myself and relied on Bernard Haring. I am reluctant to post here on this issue. I am a man and I certainly don't have a lot of expertise. I feel at a personal level that there are many parts of the right to life movement that seem irrational. One just has to listen to the posturing of several republican candidates on the issue this election season. The recent situation in Ireland has moved me to the point of regret on how catholic moral theology has ossified under the last two popes.

    The second theologian named in Matthew Fox's list of banished theologians under Ratzinger is Bernard Haring.

    I retrieved my copy of Bernard Haring's book Medical Ethics this morning. The situation in Ireland sounds very similar to a case Haring describes followed by Haring's own ethical judgement on pages 107 and 108 of his work. Here is the quote:

    "The malice of abortion is an attack on the right of the fetus to live. Since the doctor in this situation can determine with great moral certainty that there is no chance for both the mother and the fetus to survive without his 'direct' intervention, he accepts the only chance to protect and serve life which Divine Providence has left to him. He saves the life of the mother while he does not truly deprive the fetus of its right to live since it could not possibly survive in the event of the doctor's failure to save the mother's life. Moreover, the preservation of the mother's fertility is an additional service to life."

    This backward moral theology that led to the situation is Ireland is the legacy that Benedict has left the church. Its a very rigid moral theology, an absolutism that does not allow distinctions, nuance, or compassion.

  5. I'm glad my wife does not use the 'Net or look at the blogs I do. She's a former social worker, over 40 years. If she had, she'd be ballistic.

    Don't you think the decision should be up to the couple. Period.?

    I'm sick of of the tyrannical attitude.

    Abortion is always, in every instance, a tragic situation.

    Leave it to God who will meet out the results.

    Otherwise, keep your nose out of it.

    1. I wish we could leave it to God, but we have to many Catholics who think they are god's representatives on Earth.

  6. This story was reported in The Irish Times newspaper which is well known for its liberal stance. The full facts of this case are under investigation. Without these facts it's impossible and unwise to judge the situation. If the woman had a severe infection which had spread throughout her body, an abortion wouldn't do anything to save her life. We can't presume to know what the true situation was so should hold our fire until the picture becomes clearer.

  7. For the medical perspective on this, you might want to look at this link - the author is a Canadian ob/gyn, and her comments are pretty damning.

    "As Ms. Halappanavar died of an infection, one that would have been brewing for several days if not longer, the fact that a termination was delayed for any reason is malpractice. Infection must always be suspected whenever, preterm labor, premature rupture of the membranes, or advanced premature cervical dilation occurs (one of the scenarios that would have brought Ms. Halappanavar to the hospital)."

    1. They should sue the doctor, the hospital, the Irish government and the Catholic Church, the Vatican and Pope Benedict.

  8. In this case, the potential human life (the fetus) outranked the actual human life (the mother), in Catholic Hospital's eyes...
    Is that how we want to live -- basing our standards on "might have beens" rather than on "what is actually happening NOW"??
    Not fo me -- LIFE is to be grounded in REALITY, NOT FANTASY!!

    1. I know Kay. In no other situation does the Church take this kind of stance of ranking human life. Well, except for the Pope's life.

    2. Maybe the Pope should set an example, and forego medical treatment when he needs it so others can have it.

      The Pope gets the best of everything - just like Jesus. Oh, wait...