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Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Rage and incredulity, The Halappanavar tradgedy.

I have been veering between states or rage and incredulity for the past week or so regarding the death of Savita Halappanavar  in the Galway hospital. The radio and newspaper coverage  gathers a head of steam as the days go on. There is so much to be enraged about;  the refusal to terminate for at least two days as the unfortunate young  woman waited in pain and fear for the baby's heart beat to stop,  the failure  of hospital staff to note her and her husband's repeated requests  for a termination, and the endless reams of fudge  being trotted out by the government as to why there has been no legislation obliging the hospital to do its job and carry out the procedure from the outset.  Including the recommendations of the  working party that an appeal  board  be set up consisting of two doctors, if a woman has been refused a termination!

When exactly should one appeal after finding oneself  in the throes of a miscarriage? A very good time indeed to be dispatched off to jump through a series of legal hoops. We have the Supreme Court decision in the X Case, and the European court issuing warnings to legislate, and still we allow ourselves to be paralysed by a minority of zealots and dinosaurs. And so we wait and wait, as in this case until its too late. An Irish  answer to an Irish question , no more no less.

"This is a catholic country" Mr Halappanavar   was told,  a remark that was not recorded in the hospital records,  edited out along with the couple's many  requests for a termination. I prefer Mr Halappanavar's    account in this regard. So why not come out and own up to  this kind of thinking? Is it because people are too concerned about negative repercussions for themselves, as opposed to having any view on this? And who or what are they afraid of?  Is there anyone other than a thimbleful of crazies, who would object to a prompt  termination where a woman's life and or  her health is at risk due to a  pregnancy or a miscarriage?  As to enquiries,   it would be  good  to think that a stone would be lifted to expose this kind of dangerous murky thinking at play, but it won't happen unless there is a public enquiry, I think.

And pity poor Mr Halappanavar, who, not given the vital  medical procedure he asked for his wife,  was at last  given tea, biscuits and a blanket, (recorded) to keep vigil as her life slipped away, unstoppable now.