Woman Dies After Hospital Denies Abortion

Savita Halappanavar (photo courtesy of the Irish Times)

On October 21, a 31-year-old woman went to University Hospital Galway, in Ireland. Savita Halappanavar had back pain and was 17 weeks pregnant with her first child; upon exam, doctors told Savita and her husband, Praveen, that she was experiencing a miscarriage. As the pain continued and her water broke, Savita asked if the pregnancy could be terminated. But, according to her husband, “‘They said unfortunately she can’t because it’s a Catholic country. … Savita said … she is not Catholic, she is Hindu, and why impose the law on her.” The hospital’s response was that, because Ireland is a “Catholic country,” an abortion couldn’t be performed if the fetus still had a heartbeat. Although Savita asked repeatedly that the pregnancy be terminated, her requests were always denied. Several days later, the heartbeat stopped, but Savita’s condition was worsening, and she was moved to the hospital’s intensive care unit. She died on October 28.

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Hospital Punished for Providing Medically Necessary Abortion

Earlier this year, Sister Margaret McBride, a nun and hospital administrator in Phoenix, Arizona, was excommunicated for allowing an abortion to be performed at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, a Catholic hospital. Now, St. Joseph’s has been stripped of its Catholic status.

The patient, a mother of four in her late 20s, was eleven weeks pregnant when she was admitted to St. Joseph’s. She was suffering from severe pulmonary hypertension, and her doctors feared that, if the woman continued with the pregnancy, the illness could be fatal. The woman agreed to the abortion, and Sister McBride, a member of the hospital’s ethics board, approved the procedure. [Read more...]