Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Forcing The Discussion

And here I am to prostrate myself at your virtual feet for by prolonged and undue absence. I was going through a writer's block, a "crap I have nothing to say, and no one cares what I have to say anyway" phase, from which I have been shocked out of in light of recent viral stories that I want to add my two cents to. 

By now, I'm sure you have all heard about Savita Halappanavar, the most recent face put on the victims of the Catholic Church's meddlings in societies to which they do not contribute.

Savita Halappanavar (31), a dentist, presented with back pain at the hospital on October 21st, was found to be miscarrying, and died of septicaemia a week later.

Her husband, Praveen Halappanavar (34), an engineer at Boston Scientific in Galway, says she asked several times over a three-day period that the pregnancy be terminated. He says that, having been told she was miscarrying, and after one day in severe pain, Ms Halappanavar asked for a medical termination.

This was refused, he says, because the foetal heartbeat was still present and they were told, “this is a Catholic country”.

She spent a further 2½ days “in agony” until the foetal heartbeat stopped.

The dead foetus was removed and Savita was taken to the high dependency unit and then the intensive care unit, where she died of septicaemia on the 28th.

There was no chance, none whatsoever that her foetus would survive. Despite this, they chose to put the life of its mother at risk, by choosing the arbitrary standard of a foetal heartbeat as proof it was still alive, thereby directly causing her death.

I wonder, are heart transplants illegal in Ireland as well? The person's heart is still beating when it is removed for transplant, it must be in order to still be viable, but by their own logic isn't that directly killing their patient and therefore illegal?

So why am I deciding to weigh in at this point? Why is this one case so important?

I hope that this is what will finally precipitate a real discussion that we need to have regarding the liberties we give Catholic hospitals. 

Even if it is discovered that this was an isolated case, one in which her doctor was negligent and solely at fault, even if it is discovered that his actions were not in accordance with proceedure at the Catholic hospital in question, even if the administration of said hospital is absolved of any responsibility beyond any doubt, we still need to have this conversation.

This is not the first time that we are faced with the disgusting proceedures in Catholic hospitals. Take ectopic pregnancies, which have 0% chance of survival, since the foetus will burst the fallopian tube and kill the mother once it reaches a certain size. We have heard of Catholic hospitals which refuse to remove the embryo in question because of their "morals", opting instead to remove the woman's entire fallopian tube, greatly reducing her fertility and turning a simple operation into a far more dangerous one. Where was the global outcry then?

What about the sawing of women's pelvises to make them into supreme baby-making machines? 

The problem is the lack of a face, a victim, someone that the whole world rallies around. Now there is one, and with enough people paying attention we need to address the real issue: how much are we going to allow hospitals to get away with?

We need laws, real laws, limiting in explicit words what religious hospitals are allowed to do and still operate as hospitals. If Jehovah's Witnesses decide their going to open up a hospital but refuse to give blood transfusions to any of their patients, even to save their lives? Guess what, you don't get to be a hospital, you don't get a cent of govnerment money and you sure as shit aren't going to be served by ambulences that might bring an unwitting patient to your doors. If a Catholic Church refuses to save a woman's life because she has some foreign DNA inside her? Fuck you, you don't get to be a hospital anymore, end of story. 

Now, when people are really looking and really paying attention, now is the time to act.

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