At some point in the past few weeks, I have managed to miss a nationwide-turned-international controversy. I missed Panti’s TV appearance, the complaints made about his comments, the settlement with the Iona Institute, the complaints made about that. I’ve been busy. I’ve been working and studying and avoiding studying by procrastinating on the fun parts of the internet, reading actual paper books, watching ridiculous quantities of Would I Lie To You?.
In the past few days, I became aware of it, but kept it peripheral in the same way I avoid political and religious debate on the internet. Then today it was pointed out to me that RTE is a state-funded broadcaster. The payment to the Iona Institute was made with taxpayers’ money.
I am, terrifyingly grown-up though it feels to say it, a taxpayer. As of this evening, I am a taxpayer who has read enough of the Iona blog to be made deeply uncomfortable by the claims to support gay rights (but not gay marriage) while quoting some horrendously homophobic opinions; by the use of those quotes to make their position clear while carefully never overtly stating the same opinions themselves; by the demands for reasonable, open discussion and debate as long as no one gets to criticise them.
I was born and brought up in a province still struggling with sectarian and partisan violence and discrimination. I was raised Catholic by a kind, loving, generally amazing, Catholic mother who has traditional views of sex and marriage, and a kind, loving, generally amazing father whose religious convictions are somewhere between “deeply private” and “what your mother said”. I was, more importantly, raised to think for myself, to ask questions, to use logic, to engage in “reasonable, open discussion”, to make up my own mind. The end result of this is a liberal atheist who is borderline allergic to politics, who is a source of pride and frustration to her mother.
I believe in equality, personally and as one of the tenets of my chosen profession. I believe in everyone being treated equally regardless of race, religion, social class, sexuality. I believe in free speech, freedom of religion, freedom of sexual expression between two consenting adults. I believe that my gay friends should be able to love and marry as freely as my straight friends. I believe my religious friends have the same right to their faith as I do to my conviction that God-with-a-capital-G does not exist. I do not believe that any of us have the right to oppress those freedoms in others.
I don’t know anything about John Waters or Breda O’Brien. I don’t know much about the Iona Institute. All I know of Rory ‘Panti’ O’Neill comes from the calm, articulate, heartfelt speech he made in the Abbey theatre.
I do know this - RTE chose to censor Rory O’Neill and give my money to the Iona Institute in a reflex attempt to avoid a defamation scandal, over offering the Institute a similar interview, a chance to respond in the same medium, opening the debate the Institute claim to want. Let’s do that,next time. Let’s see how that goes.
When I went home for Christmas I had to make space on my shelves for the 30 or so books I brought with me, and because I’m a little bit obsessive about my books I couldn’t just shove them in anywhere.
Stage one of the great reorganisation made me think my mum had a point when she bought me a Kindle against my will. The full bookshelves just made me incredibly geekily happy.
Rainbow mobile for a rainbow baby.
This is what contentment looks like.
Winter is coming. Get your direwolf now.
My sister has the best of taste in presents.
A birthday present for my sister.
“This is a Catholic country,” was what Irish doctors told Savita Halappanavar after she learned she was miscarrying her pregnancy and asked for an abortion to avoid further complications. She spent three days in agonising pain, eventually shaking, vomiting and passing out. She again asked for an abortion and was refused, because the foetus still had a heartbeat.
Then she died.
She died of septicaemia and E Coli. She died after three and a half days of excruciating pain. She died after repeatedly begging for an end to the pregnancy that was poisoning her. Her death would have been avoided if she had been given an abortion when she asked for it – when it was clear she was miscarrying, and that non-intervention would put her at risk. But the foetus, which had no chance of survival, still had a heartbeat. Its right to life quite literally trumped hers.
Jill Filipovic on the heart-rending story of Savita Halappanavar, who died in she was refused an abortion. The procedure is illegal in Ireland.
Photograph: Irish Times
Oh my GOD.
I’m sorry, doctors in question, this has nothing to do with Catholicism, but more with you being massive dickbags. Being pro-life doesn’t mean being against the mother’s right to live, in favour of a foetus which doesn’t have a chance, while she would have had. Being pro-life in this case means making the difficult choice to have the foetus removed so the mother may live, form a family with her husband (who gets to keep a happy life cause his wife lives), and possibly have children again in the future.
While this is tragic and awful and should never happen again, we do not yet have all the facts and it is unfair to attack the doctors in question. I agree that termination should be available in cases where the child is not going to survive and the mother’s life is in danger. But we don’t have a clear chain of events yet and won’t until the HSE enquiry is complete. We don’t know at what point sepsis developed and Savita’s life was endangered. We do know that women who have had threatened/inevitable miscarriages have occasionally managed to carry the foetus an extra few weeks, long enough for it to be viable. It’s rare, but it happens.
I am, in general, against abortion with no medical indication. I am “pro-life”, if you will, in so far as I cannot imagine circumstances under which I would electively have an abortion myself and I disapprove of it as a form of birth control. I don’t unquestioningly put the life of the foetus before the physical and mental health of the mother and I don’t mean to imply that everyone who has an abortion does it lightly. I’ve just seen too many people, some of them close friends, who struggled to conceive, miscarried, or had a stillbirth, to be able to reconcile that anguish with just not wanting a baby.
In this case, I agree that termination should have been available. I think it is horrific that a young woman spent days in pain and eventually died and I think it should never have to happen again. BUT. Until the investigation is complete and the facts are clear, it is completely unfair to attack the doctors involved in this case. They did not refuse termination because of their own religious or moral convictions; to be, as I’ve seen them called, dicks or bastards; or because they were negligent. They were bound by the law. Termination is illegal in Ireland. There is one case, the X Case, which established that termination is allowable in the following conditions : pre-eclampsia; cancer of the cervix; ectopic pregnancy; and where there is little or no prospect of life outside the womb which could result in the death of both the woman and the foetus. But even after this case the constitutional law was not changed.
We need the facts before condemning the doctors for not doing something that could possibly have ended in them being struck off and arrested. More importantly, we need the country’s political powers to get off their arses, separate church from state, and pass the legislation that would prevent this from happening ever again.
…”and where there is little or no prospect of life outside the womb which could result in the death of both the woman and the foetus”;
Which was, according to the articles I’ve read on several reputable news websites, exactly the case here.
And those news websites are most likely right and I agree with you. But we don’t know. As an (admittedly young and inexperienced) doctor, I’m not blindly taking the side of the health profession, I’m not condoning how this case was managed. All I’m saying is that the change between a patient being sick and their life being in danger can happen very quickly, and accusations of medical negligence or even of practicing according to your own religious ethos are inappropriate until all the information is available.
Anyway. It’s a tragedy for everyone involved and hopefully the one good thing to come out of it will be changes in practice to help prevent it happening again.