A woman will always receive the life-saving treatment she needs and it’s not abortion because it’s not intended; and anyway, Savita’s tragic death had nothing to do with the law and she actually died from sepsis/system failures, unlike what the pro-abortionists say because they just hijacked her death to promote baby-murder like Gosnell.
If you’ve been following the abortion debate over the last year you’ll recognise the above as succinct summary of the oft-repeated rhetoric put forth by the anti-choice lobby. It’s easy to put it all into a few lines because when you look at it, they’re the same “arguments” repeated over and over; but once a good point is made to counter one of theirs, they simply jump to the next one, then the next, and so on, before repeating the cycle over again.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be Savita Halappanavar and sepsis: the anti-choice people could just as easily say, “Michelle Harte’s death had nothing to do with abortion law; she died because she didn’t get treatment for her cancer in time”. Indeed, any woman in Ireland today could find herself in a situation where medical treatment is denied because she is pregnant. But clearly, things are not as black and white as Youth Defence and the Pro-Life Campaign would like you to imagine. The more reasonable people among us were very sure that Savita’s death was a combination of being denied an abortion, which then resulted in the infection that took her life.
Over the last fortnight I noticed how the same old points were brought up yet again, during the inquest in Galway. Years’-worth of malformed reasoning was squashed into the space of a few days. It was rather chaotic, I suspect, because it was happening all too fast for the anti-choicers to twist and skew the facts. So fast, in fact, that the cynic in me says that many of the anti-choice lobbyists and campaigners are beginning to latch onto the Kermit Gosnell trial in the USA in an attempt to portray abortion rights supporters as supporters murder (actual murder that is, not the anti-choice movement’s pretend version of it). While supporters of the anti-choice groups often say it, I half-expect spokespersons of the groups themselves to become ever more vocal about this (they’re already posting news articles relating to the trial), with nonsense similar to that of Edel Finnegan, director of the Pro-Life Union of Greater Philadelphia, who said of Gosnell, “What’s happening at this abortion facility, it’s happening at every abortion facility.”
After Savita died, her husband, Praveen, approached Galway Pro-Choice and the media to highlight his wife’s death as a result of being denied an abortion. While Savita was certainly talked about at numerous rallies and protests, the focus all along – even before her death – was on women’s rights. There was no “hijack” of anything.
Today on Youth Defence’s Facebook page a young person posted asking for clarification on abortion, as she thought it was okay to have an abortion if the mother’s life was in danger, but otherwise she felt abortion was murder. Youth Defence then proceeded to lie to this young and spout the usual “it’s not abortion if it’s not intended”. Of course, any pregnancy termination is an abortion, and it has nothing to do with intention.
The panic and hand-wringing continued throughout the last two weeks, building and building, with many anti-choicers on social networks arguing the exact same, tired rhetoric as they had always done. I could almost see the blinkers on them through my computer monitor as they decided to ignore the reality of what was going on.
Then today the rhetoric stopped. There was a deafening silence from the anti-choice campaigners as Dr Peter Boylan, clinical director of the National maternity Hospital, said that an early termination, if legally permissible, could have saved Savita Halappanavar. This was the statement that everybody needed to hear, but the very one that the anti-choice lobby wanted nobody to hear.
As the inquest continues, it’s becoming clear that Praveen Halappanavar’s account of those horrific few days is vindicated. It’s becoming clear that after 21 years of inaction from successive governments to legislate for the X Case, the pro-choice movement and women’s rights campaigners are vindicated.
But still, nothing has changed. Women in Ireland are still forced to travel abroad for abortion. You, the reader, or someone close to you, could be one of these women. I’m proud to be a pro-choice feminist and I urge everyone to demand that our government takes action so that Ireland may become a little less misogynistic, and a safe place for women to be pregnant.