Pro-life advocates in Ireland are reiterating that the death of a pregnant mother in Galway was not caused by the country's ban on abortion.
“There are provisions within our law and within our own best medical practice and our hospitals whereby pregnant women are never neglected, and treatment is never withheld for them because they are pregnant,” Youth Defence spokeswoman Ide Nic Athuna told EWTN News on Nov. 14.
“The pro-abortion lobby is creating a media frenzy out of this,” she said, in reference to the Oct. 28 death of Savita Halappanavar.
Halappanavar was 17 weeks pregnant when she went to University Hospital Galway on the night of Oct. 20. She was suffering severe back pain and it was determined that she was miscarrying.
Once she learned that she would lose her child, she asked several times for an abortion, but was told that the medical staff would not make such a move as long as her child had a heartbeat.
On Wed., Oct. 24 the child died and its body was removed. Halappanavar was transferred to the intensive care unit.
By Oct. 27 her heart, kidneys, and liver had stopped working, and she died the following day of blood poisoning.
Paul Tully, general manager of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, emphasized that the full details of the case are not yet known and that people should keep that in mind.
“What we do know is that miscarriage and infection can be managed by proper medical treatment. Abortion is not medicine - it does not treat or cure any pathology,” Tully said.
The spokeswoman for Youth Defence agreed that people should not jump to conclusions about the tragedy. “Obviously this is a very, very tragic case,” Nic Athuna said. “Nobody knows the full facts of the case yet because there are inquiries going on, so it's very premature and probably irresponsible for … the pro-abortion lobby to be rushing out and claiming that the facts are a certain way.”
“What we do know is that our own medical counsel guidelines specify that doctors are not only allowed but are obliged to treat pregnant women if dangerous circumstances arise for them. It goes so far that a doctor can be struck off if they do not intervene, in cases like this where the mother's life may be in danger.”
Halappanavar's husband, Praveen, told the BBC he has “no doubt about it” that his wife would still be alive had she been allowed an abortion.
Nic Athuna told EWTN News that there have been no cases of women traveling or being sent from Ireland to England for an abortion to save their life.
“We can confirm, because we requested such information from the UK central statistics office, that Irish women are not traveling to England for life-saving abortions either. There were none who fell under that category of needing a life-saving abortion in English clinics.
“So the reality is that women are not dying because they're being denied abortion.”
In fact, Ireland is one of the safest countries in the world for pregnant mothers. Only three of every 100,000 women die in childbirth in the country. The average number in Europe and North America is 14 per 100,000.
Abortion in Ireland is governed by an 1861 law, which bans the procedure. The 1983 constitution recognizes unborn childrens' right to life “with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother.”
In 1992, the country's Supreme Court ruled that abortion was lawful if there was a substantial risk to the life of the mother as a result of her pregnancy.
Yet in the 20 years since the ruling, lawmakers have refrained from revising Irish abortion law, leaving a complicated legal process for women who believe they need an abortion. In April, the lower house of the Irish parliament rejected a bill that would have legalized the procedure.
Both University Hospital Galway and the Irish government have launched inquiries into the death of Halappanavar.
“This is a very, very tragic incident,” Nic Athuna remarked, “all we know so far is this lady died of septicemia, and what we know from the news reports is that administration of antibiotics was unduly delayed.”
“We really have to wait for the results of these inquiries to come out before we can speculate further on it,” she said.