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Friday, 19 April 2013

Screwing with the Hippocratic oath. Choices.

"I didn't mean to be hurtful" the mid wife at the Halappanavar inquest offers, "I didn't mean to be hurtful,  when I told her  that this is a catholic country",  she having  being sternly reminded at the same inquest that it is the legal and not the religious rule that prevails in Irish hospitals.  Right.  Does it  though?  Does it really?  Well yes.  And no.  And yes. And no not really.   We flounder  in  a legal quagmire because of the catholic business,  in fact .  And yes we are sorry,  and so we told Mr Halappanavar.  We are sorry, we are embarrassed, we are exposed.  We are the catholics.

The midwife tells the inquest that her remarks were made in the context of a friendly chat with Mrs Halappanavar.  She meant no harm. She meant no harm  as she in effect told Mrs Halappanavar that she, the patient,  did not have the right to choose. Though Mrs Halappanavar's choice was clear.  Inevitable miscarriage,  non viable pregnancy,  rape.  Across the world a woman has the right to choose in these circumstances at least.  And if a woman cannot choose in such circumstances she is a chattel,  little more.

You carry a child  in your body conciously, intelligently, deliberately.  There could be no good outcome if you did not. The collorary of this is that YOU choose. Only women choose. The choice is the business of  the one who bears the burden.  But  we,  the irish,   we say not. We say it's a catholic thing, a  legal thing,  it's anything but a woman thing.  And now we are exposed, blinking up  into the  harsh light of day, wishing only that the murky boulder be replaced.

And then there IS the legal thng, the position we claim. What is that exactly? Oh yeah, the DOCTOR has the right to choose. The doctor  brings the woman down to the wire, up against it,  to the very brink,  her life in the balance, and chooses.  A fine calculation that.  We know that some medics will go in and terminate if there is ANY risk to life,  and some will obey the law's letter,  having interpreted it. Cautiously. The law's an ass so watch your ass. We are the Doctors.

And oh you think if you were in Mrs Haloppanavar's  position you might well regret not having stayed at home in your own bed, where at least you would  have been spared the weasel words while the  deathly sepsis gained purchase in your life's blood. And afterwards your husband spared the torment of an inquest where the  midwife,  the nurse,   describe your chattering teeth,  your shivering fever,  the  clear evidence of your septic abortion, all charted, never acted upon.  Because.  Oh listen as the doctors say they did not hear, they never read, they did not know, they were not told.  Oh no.  A systems  failure then.  And marvel as the doctors duck and dive behind the dangerous law they do not seek to change.

"All you are permitted to do is wait"  Doctor Peter Boylan said, "for sepsis. Then you can. Act." That is entirely a matter of interpretation, I say, and  if it were true ,  it would be  an iniquitous thing accepted in a passive and shameful fashion by doctors,  who DO choose.  If Mrs Halappanavar was given the procedure that she asked for, when she asked for it, she  would be alive today planning her next pregnancy having laid her daughter to rest. That was her choice. What happened in the event is ours. We are the people.