When I first heard about this story…I sat in front of my computer screen with my mouth wide open in complete disbelief. The scary part is that this could become quite the norm right here in the US.
Savita Halappanavar, a 31-year-old Indian woman living in Ireland, went to the hospital when she first began to miscarry — but thanks to Ireland’s stringent abortion ban, medical professionals denied her repeated requests to quickly terminate the pregnancy because they could still detect a fetal heartbeat. The Irish hospital required her to extend her miscarriage over three days until the fetus’ heartbeat officially stopped, and by that time, Halappanavar had developed serious blood poisoning. She passed away just a few days later.
Savita Halappanavar’s husband, Praveen, said doctors determined that she was miscarrying within hours of her hospitalization for severe pain on Sunday, Oct. 21. He said that over the next three days doctors refused their requests for a termination of her fetus to combat her own surging pain and fading health.
Praveen told the Irish Times in a telephone interview from Belgaum, southwest India:
Halappanavar’s death helps to highlight the tragic effect of Ireland’s stringent abortion ban, but the impact of that type of restrictive legislation isn’t just limited to that country. In fact, lawmakers in Ohio are quietly pushing extreme anti-abortion legislation that would subject the women in that state to a situation incredibly similar to the one in Ireland.
Savita was really in agony. She was very upset, but she accepted she was losing the baby. When the consultant came on the ward rounds on Monday morning, Savita asked ‘If they could not save the baby, could they induce to end the pregnancy?’ The consultant said: ‘As long as there is a fetal heartbeat, we can’t do anything.’
During this year’s lame duck session, Ohio legislators are planning to revive HB 125, a so-called “heartbeat” bill that would ban abortions as soon as a fetal heartbeat can be detected — which can first occur as early as five or six weeks, before many women may even know they’re pregnant. If HB 125 is passed, it would criminalize all abortions after the emergence of a fetal heartbeat without allowing even the narrowest exceptions in potential cases of rape, incest, or the mental health of the woman.
Even if Ohio’s bill includes some kind of provision that would allow women to seek abortions in life-threatening situations, Halappanavar’s death points to the fact that health risks aren’t always immediately apparent.
She was pretty…she was alive…she probably could have had other fetal opportunities…a full life and a family. This is the future of all women, should we be denied our choice. This is what happens when our uterus and it’s contents become more important than women as a whole.
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