So read a sign protesting the unnecessary, preventable death of Savita Halappanavar, a 31-year-old dentist living in Ireland. Pregnant with her first child, Savita went to the hospital after experiencing back pain at 17 weeks. She was miscarrying and needed an abortion to save her life. The Catholic hospital refused. Savita died days later.
There was no chance the fetus was going to survive, but the doctors still denied her life-saving treatment. I can’t imagine the torment she went through, what her husband and family are still going through, knowing she died for no reason.
This happened in Ireland, but it could have happened anywhere. Legislators in Ohio are trying to revive a bill that would make abortion illegal within weeks of conception, when many women don’t know they’re pregnant. A Kansas law permits health care workers to refuse to treat women if they suspect doing so would result in an abortion. This will lead to cases such as one just a few months ago in the Dominican Republic. A pregnant 16-year-old was denied treatment for leukemia for weeks because it could hurt the fetus. By the time she got access to chemotherapy, it was too late. She died.
Maybe the teenager would have died even if she had started treatment as soon as she was diagnosed. Savita certainly would not have. But what they have in common is religion and governments deciding they know better than women and their doctors what is best. And, even more grotesque, this is done in the name of “life.” Savita was denied life-saving care in the name of the “pro-life” Catholic church. If you don’t find that nauseating, infuriating and distressing, you are not paying attention. Your sister, daughter or wife could be next. Your wanted pregnancy could take a turn for the worse.
This is why we need safe, accessible abortions regardless of ability to pay. If you want an abortion, you should be able to have one. Period.