“Another heavenly day.” That’s the first thing that Winnie says in Happy Days, one of Samuel Beckett’s most disturbing plays. Every day is heavenly in Ireland, because they are a Roman Catholic country. And as such, abortion is illegal in that God fearing country.
You know what really makes for a heavenly day? Carrying around a dead fetus in your womb. It’s heavenly is so many ways. First, you can feel the honor of doing something totally useful for the sake of God. (Although, I still find the logic against abortion and condoms kind of circuitous owing to the fact that neither of them are in the Bible.) Second, you get to suffer—just like that Jesus guy. And third, you get to see God so much sooner.
Savita Halappanavar had many heavenly days before her 28 October death due to blood poisoning resulting from her dead fetus. She was 17 weeks pregnant. And she tried to get an abortion because the fetus was not viable. But the good Christian doctors of Ireland wouldn’t provide that service. Mustn’t offend God. Or something.
Halappanavar was a 31-year-old dentist from India. So if this is what happens to rich educated women, you can imagine the situation for the poor and uneducated. Of course, Ireland has public funding of healthcare so that helps. Imagine the situation in another country, say, the United States. The problem with Ireland is not that it’s Catholic. After all, in Italy, they allow abortion for the first 3 months of a pregnancy. The problem is that Ireland is parochial. A much bigger problem is that the United States is even more parochial.
Add to that, major politicians like Joe Walsh who said the “death of the mother” exception for abortion was just a loophole to allow women to get more and more abortions. He claimed that there was no such thing, “With modern science and technology, you can’t find one instance.” Thankfully, Walsh lost his re-election bid, but I fear he will be back.
I have long been of the opinion that we as liberals should not be in a discussion of rape or life exceptions. But that is because cases like these shouldn’t even be open to discussion. The Halappanavar case shows that this isn’t just an issue of politics or even individual rights. When we allow the debate to be framed by those on the right, lives are at stake.
According to Wikipedia, the “Hospital is being subjected to several investigations.” Does anyone really think the problem here is medical malpractice? This is political malpractice. No amount of hospital reform will prevent this from happening again. Hopefully, Savita Halappanavar’s death will do some good. It seems there is some push back against these medieval laws. But this is an unnecessary tragedy caused by extremists who think that zygotes are more important than living, breathing women.