Thursday, 15 November 2012

When Words Fail and Pictures Don't Tell The Story

I couldn't find the words I wanted to write yesterday and no photo of mine could tell the story.
Words, those instruments I use every day, failed me as I sat with a heavy heart, the image of a beautiful
young Indian woman imprinted on my brain.
By now, everyone knows the story of Savita Halvappanvar, the 31 year old dentist who died in a Galway hospital because doctors wouldn't listen to  her when she asked them to terminate the baby she
was miscarrying. She was told,  her husband reports, that as Ireland is a Catholic country, medical staff couldn't intervene once there was a foetal heartbelt. After three days of agony and an eventually operation, she died from septicaemia.
As well as carrying a sadness when I read the newspaper reports of what Savita had to endure and what her husband and family have to carry with them for the rest of their lives,  I am angry. Angry that a woman should die this way in Ireland in the 21st century.
Abortion remains  illegal in Ireland as the successive governments  have failed to bring in legislation in the wake of the X Case in which the Supreme Court stated that abortion was permissible in the case of 'real and substantive risk' to the mother's life.
Medical  intervention to save a woman's life is not the same as abortion on demand, yet in the case of Savita, it seems that doctors were reluctant to end her pregnancy even though the 17 week old baby  had no chance of survival.
Although I consider myself a feminist, I was never whole-heartedly 'pro-choice' but then I can't throw my hat in with the 'pro-life' brigade either who seem most vocal in defending the rights of the unborn over the born.
Having experienced the miracle of life growing within me, I feel that this  precious life shouldn't be ended unless there are very good grounds, such as when a woman's life is in danger or the child would be profoundly disabled with little chance of survival.  And what about women who are victims of rape or incest?
We elect politicians, appoint law makers and policy deciders to legislate so that tragedies like this don't  happen.
Sadly, the name of Savita is added to the list of women failed by the Irish State which must move to end the influence of religion over matters of life and death.
Rest in Peace Savita.


  1. I fluctuate between deep sadness and terrible anger over stories such as this and sadly Savita isn't the first and won't be the last.

  2. I read the reports here in Scotland with such a deep anger and sadness. I have 5 children. I have not been in a position where I have had to consider termination. However, I remain firmly pro-choice. The damage that is done to women in the name of the State is institutionalised abuse. I have worked with the sexual abuse victims and the vulnerable women who would rather have taken their own lives than go through with a pregnancy. I have also worked with the children conceived through incest and rape. Such a terrible cruelty as Savita's death is yet another example of what happens when a woman's body becomes the property of everyone but her.


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