Four times today I have sat down and tried to write something about Savita Halappanavar. Four times I have failed. It’s not that I can’t find the words, I can and I have, but there is just too much to say.
‘This is a Catholic country’, is the response that Praveen, Savita’s husband received when he sought and was refused a medical termination for his gravely ill wife. Despite being aware that the foetus had no chance of survival, and his wife’s agony and subsequent death, the law of the land was upheld. Although loyalty and respect for the institution of the Catholic Church being at an all-time low, this incident proves that we are still shackled by the antiquated and narrow-minded views of this once all-powerful body.
A woman’s body is her own, and no doctor, clergyman or politician should be allowed to overturn a decision which will culminate in her preventable excruciatingly painful death. Savita’s right to life was disregarded for as long as the foetal heartbeat was present; her heartbeat was considered secondary to that of a foetus that could never have taken a breath. This refusal to carry out a termination of the already perishing foetus led to the development of septicaemia, and her eventual death.
While I understand that the medical staff of University Hospital Galway are not to the blame, I find it increasingly hard not to feel angered that no-one dealing with Savita stepped in, broke this archaic rule, granted her the right to protect her own body, and in essence, saved her life.
I, as an Irish woman am ashamed of how Savita was treated. I am terribly saddened for Praveen and his family, and I am disgusted at what society’s laws deem as right and wrong. In these times of economic turmoil and political disillusionment, uncertainty clouds much of the daily news, but of this I am sure; no clause or article should be adhered to if it results in the unnecessary death of a beautiful woman.