Abortion advocates are using the tragic death of Dr Savita Halappanavar to promote abortion in Ireland through fear and error.
The media and abortion advocates are correlating Dr. Savita's death with a lack of legal abortion in Ireland. This is medically and legally wrong.
Dr. Savita died of septicaemia, an infection that developed from a miscarriage, and E. coli ESBL. Abortion is not a cure for septicaemia (or any other medical condition), and obstetricians agree there is no evidence that termination of her pregnancy by abortion would have saved her life.
The head of the OB-GYN Societies of India has stated: "Even if the law permitted it, it is not as if her life would have been saved because of termination."
Media reports state that Dr. Savita's husband blames Irish laws regarding abortion for the alleged failure of doctors to provide his wife with life-saving medical treatment.
Irish law, and the guidelines of the Irish Medical Council, clearly allow doctors to provide life-saving treatment to pregnant women, even if they foresee that this will result in the unintended death of the baby.
The major difference that legislation for the X Case would make is that it would include a threat of suicide among the life-threatening situations that could justify termination of pregnancy. This would alter the understanding of what is a life-saving treatment, in that abortion is not a treatment for suicidal ideation, or for the psychiatric conditions that may give rise to that. This is clearly not relevant to Savita's case.
There is much more to be said about the implications of legislating for X.
According to the media, Dr. Savita's husband was told that since Ireland is a "Catholic country," the doctors could not help his wife. University Hospital Galway is not a Catholic hospital. Minister for Health James Reilly stated he has "no evidence" of an ethos there that would have prevented Savita's life from being saved.
Minister for Health James Reilly stated he has "no evidence" of an ethos at the hospital that would have prevented Dr. Savita's life from being saved.
Ireland's Catholic Bishops have clearly stated that where a seriously ill pregnant woman needs medical treatment which may put the life of her baby at risk, "such treatments are ethically permissible provided every effort has been made to save the life of both the mother and her baby." They pointed out that the Catholic Church has never taught that the life of the unborn should be preferred to that of a mother.
Catholic doctors and hospital have been pioneers of a model of maternal healthcare which maximises the likelihood of a good outcome for both mothers and babies. Ireland's low maternal mortality is, in part at least, a result of this two-patient model.