20 Dec

For our FIE Irish Life and Culture course essay, I chose to write about the separation of Church and State in Ireland.  I specifically decided to focus on abortion.  In my research and reading of news articles, I came across a very shocking and saddening story which I had actually heard a blurb about on the news while in Brussels over reading week.  This story is about a young woman who was pregnant with her first child and was experiencing some medical complications.  When it was learned that her baby was not going to make it and the patient was still in danger, the woman requested an abortion.  However, she was denied the abortion, as abortion is still illegal in Ireland under most circumstances.  This whole story has caused a sort of uproar and created a large amount of controversy because the woman ended up dying due to her complications with the miscarriage, and was denied an abortion despite her health being in danger.    

In the very recent past, Ireland has experienced increased controversy with damaged health and even death to women who have been denied an abortion, even though their health or life was in danger.  Along with this, there has been increased rallying and support of the pro-choice movement in Ireland.  The most relevant and recent example may be the death of Savita Halappanavar in Galway University Hospital.  Savita was seventeen weeks pregnant when she started experiencing severe back pain and frequent urination.  She and her husband went in to the maternity ward at Galway University Hospital; she was examined, told she was fine, and sent home.  Once home, her symptoms worsened, and she and her husband returned to the hospital.  Upon further examination, the doctors tell her that she is fully dilated; however, at seventeen weeks the baby is unviable, and they will inevitably loose the baby.  When Savita had an ultrasound, they discovered that there is still a fetal heartbeat, and she and her husband are told that intervention is now no longer an option.  She asks for a termination of the miscarriage, but is continually denied.  On the third day of the miscarriage, Savita begs for termination of the pregnancy, to which the doctor responds to the Hindu, Indian woman, “this is a Catholic country,” insinuating that abortions are against the Catholic religion and also the law.  That night and the next morning, Savaita’s condition worsened; by the afternoon, the fetal heartbeat had stopped.  At that point, the pregnancy was terminated.  However, Savita’s condition worsened still, and she was sedated.  Doctors told her husband that she had contracted E.coli ESBL and septicemia.  Her heart, kidney, and liver began to fail, and Savita died .  Many argue that Savita Halappanavar was wrongly denied the termination of the pregnancy.  What has caused the most controversy is the alleged statement made by the doctor that Ireland “is a Catholic country,” and, therefore, abortions are illegal.


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