Tragedy of Savita should not be used as excuse for witch-hunt
Prof William Ledger, who conducted the inquiry, declared himself shocked that, in six cases, the women remained pregnant despite undergoing a surgical procedure to evacuate the contents of their uterus. Four went on to give birth.
Every woman I know, including myself, who began to miscarry, has hoped against hope that the pregnancy would continue. Sometimes the miraculous happens, the bleeding and cramps stop, and all is well. The cases examined by Prof Ledger demonstrate that, in some cases, a cautious approach is justified, and that devastation of another kind can happen if a surgical procedure is done too quickly.
We just don’t know what happened in the case of the Halappanavar family, when the infection set in, or how well it was managed. When I asked a senior medical consultant as to whether three months was necessary to conduct a review, she replied that a month should be adequate, “but the HSE moves slower than the Vatican”. It is not acceptable, for the Halappanavar family, the staff of Galway University Hospital, or for indeed the rest of us, that there should be such delay in establishing the facts.
It is sad that this family tragedy is being used to advance abortion legalisation. It is also deeply sad that outrage can be so selective. A doctor was struck off in Britain in December 2011 for botched abortions, including on an Irish woman who nearly died and spent two months in hospital after he ruptured her uterus. There was little or no coverage of it. If it had been plastic surgery, I suspect it would have been all over the media.
In April 2011, the US Food and Drug Administration recorded eight deaths from septicaemia, and two from ruptured ectopic pregnancies after the so-called abortion pill. Irish crisis pregnancy counsellors are alleged to have advised women to smuggle the abortion pill and take it without medical supervision.
These counsellors were also allegedly advising women to conceal abortions, depriving doctors of vital and potentially life-saving medical information. Where was the outcry? It is right that we should remember and grieve for Savita Halappanavar, for how her dreams were shattered, and how her life and that of her baby were lost. If there was negligence of any kind, those responsible should face the full rigour of the law. But let us not use her death as an excuse for a witch-hunt.