Nov. 27, 2012
Recently, Savita Halapannavaran, an Indian woman residing in Ireland, suffered a miscarriage and died in a public hospital. Her parents claimed that the hospitals refusal to give her an abortion (while her baby still had a heartbeat) lead to her death, even though Halappanavars autopsy has revealed that she died of blood poisoning and E. coli ESBL, an antibiotic-resistant strain of the bacterium.
Accusations continued to fly and the womans husband said the fault lay with Ireland being a Catholic country. Likewise, news outlets and blogs rushed to report that religion was to blame for the womans death. The womans father has appealed directly to the Irish Prime Minister to change the countrys legislation on abortion. But should this really be viewed as an issue of Irish legality? A 1992 ruling by the Irish Supreme Court said that abortion was legal when a womans life was at stake. Whats going on here?
Instead of jumping to the conclusions that Halappanavar needed an abortion and that Ireland needs to legalize the killing of the youngest of its kind, the reasonable approach would be to get to the bottom of what Halappanavars condition was and examine how it was or was not responded to, Stephanie Gray, executive director of the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform, wrote Nov. 20.
E. coli ESBL [official cause of the mothers death] has recently spread throughout theU.K., causing urinary-tract infections that can develop into blood poisoning. The presence of E. coli ESBL is particularly problematic if Halappanavar was given antibiotics to fight an infection that was resistant to those very antibiotics, Gray said.
As happens so often, all the facts surrounding this case may not be public, or fully known, but the hospital and the governments Health Service Executive are investigating.
And Gray continues:
We have yet to hear from the hospital and the medical professionals involved as to what precisely happened, but with this report of her dying from E. coli ESBL, one wonders how killing Halappanavars baby, Prasa, would have killed the E. coli.
This is an undeniably tragic situation, but also very complicated. We must ask the question whywith the science of this mothers condition uncertainwas religion the first thing to be blamed?