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Source: (consider it) Thread: Irish abortion
marzipan
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(Disclaimer: I am neither a lawyer or a doctor. Anything I say here is just my uneducated opinion)

Irish abortion law is rather unclear. Wikipedia has a summary.
In practice, a woman cannot acquire an abortion in Ireland. She is free to travel elsewhere in the EU to obtain one, and a doctor is obliged to supply information on travelling if she requests it.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled earlier this year that Irish law must make it clear whether or not abortion is legal here.

The eighth amendment to the constitution states:
quote:
The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.
Today the story of Savita Halappanavar is all over the headlines.

Investigations/enquiries are under way so what happenned might not be exactly the same as what was reported. I'll try to post updates as I become aware of them.

Facts as far as I can tell:
She was already miscarrying her baby when she got to the hospital. She was 17 weeks pregnant. Her doctors refused to induce her until after the foetal heartbeat had stopped - that took two and a half days (with her in severe pain for those days). She died shortly after from septicaemia.

My opinion:
If she was already miscarrying, and presumably at 17 weeks the baby would not have been viable, what were they trying to achieve? How does this help to preserve life?
As far as I can tell, she didn't have symptoms of septicaemia until after the foetus was removed. But she was in severe pain, she was already miscarrying, and she and her husband requested more than once for her to be induced/have a medical abortion.
According to stories/anecdotes I'm hearing on the radio today, doctors are not legally allowed to do anything until the woman is definitely not pregnant any more - even in an ectopic pregnancy, septicaemia, whatever.

It seems like current muddy laws mean that if a woman in Ireland wants an abortion, it's easy enough - she can just hop on a plane or a ferry to England or Wales and get one there.
If she doesn't want an abortion but she needs treatment to save her life (or health) while she is living in Ireland, she can't have one if it would cause death of the baby.

What are other people's thoughts?

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fletcher christian

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You have more or less got it right. However the situation is very complicated. The first thing to note is that it is a constitutional issue and the constitution in Ireland cannot be changed without a public referendum. On this particular issue the government has 'staged' a referendum many times and horrifically botched it for political purposes. Now there are many varied and complicated reasons as to why a majority political party would want to host a referendum they know they will deliberately botch. It's very difficult to outline all of them here, so I will try to give something of an overview.

Not so very long ago - and to some extent still today (but not with the same power and influence, especially after reports on another scandal) church orders basically ran the health service in Ireland. For the prevailing party of the day, when Ireland gained her independence, money was a serious issue and the government saw the church and her orders (who were willing to provide a health service) as a cheap way of getting the job done. Over time the health service developed into what we have today, with less and less influence of the orders, but still a very discernable presence. Any time this issue came up in a referendum, the full might of the Catholic church both at home and abroad swung into action. I remember some of the public debates, and ugly doesn't even come close to how they were conducted and you would not believe the kind of nonsense that was preached from pulpits. Now the government knew that when it was failing on something, or had a horrible record of doing something wrong that made it's opinion polls collapse, it could wheel out this old chestnut and distract attention away from all of their failings for months on end. In some cases they were also given the prize of distraction by other parties begging them for a referendum. But ultimately they knew that the church going public - who were active voters - would be told what to vote by their priest from the pulpit and that they would be bad catholics if they did anything else; all backed up by stern statements from the Vatican. Now this was a time in Ireland when people generally idolised priests to be honest and would actually take heed of what they said they should do.

The 2002 referendum was the great hope of a lot of people that we might get an amazing result that so many people had been hoping and praying for; namely a limited allowance of abortion in specific circumstances, both medical and pastoral following a botched conservative referendum. Fiana Fail deliberately botched it again by actually producing an opposite argument for the intial referendum, but it was felt by many that this might open the door to a proper referendum on the whole topic. Essentially the party tried to make the referendum a conservative attachment to the abortion bill, but it was defeated. The wording was confusing, the material delivered to the voters doors was next to useless and it was all to try and make sure that they retained what they considered to be their loyal Catholic voters. It was a travesty, and no further referendum came out of it as a result. The church had tried to throw its weight behind it, but it was already being marred by abuse scandals.

Today, there are repeated requests to put it to a referendum again, but no party really wants to touch that one while in office, but hopefully they will be forced into it. Hospital employees don't know how to deal with situations like the Savita Halappanavar one and they are terrified of being sued or loosing their jobs. That might sound odd, but many hospital trusts are still dominated by members of orders today.

There is one reason why the referendum may not come soon though. We recently had one (ie, a few days ago) and it was slightly botched for yet more complex reasons. In any referendum the government must now provide material that is unbiased and presents two clear sides of the argument for and against (they didn't always have to do this). But the recent referendum was to do with the rights of children and nobody could come up with a negative. Well before the referendum, Fine Gael and Labour were literally begging the parties to think up some negatives so they could distribute the material for the referendum. the result was that it passed ok, but some ejit (likely prompted by Sinn Fein - they do the same thing in the North to stir up trouble) took a high court case to say the government had failed in its duty to provide two sides to the argument in its literature delivered to voters doors. The result is that this government won't want to touch such an emotive issue, particularly in light of the high court ruling that had no other choice but to uphold the complaint. We can only hope and pray that Sinn Fein shut the hell up about the governments failing in this regard (noting they offered nothing constructive whatsoever to the entire issue throughout the campaign) so that the government can actually get on with producing a sensible and well worded document for a referendum on abortion. It will come I think, but its a question of when; and of course what the wording will be. It's a pretty appalling situation, but one that has been very poorly handled time an time again for political reasons.

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marzipan
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Apparently a thousand people are outside the dail (parliament) protesting in reaction to this case. Story [url] http://m.rte.ie/news/2012/1114/demonstration-outside-leinster-house-over-abortion.html[/url] here.

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Crœsos
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And in a case of the worst timing imaginable:

quote:
AN INTERNATIONAL symposium on maternal healthcare in Dublin at the weekend has concluded that abortion is never medically necessary to save the life of a mother.

Eamon O’Dwyer, professor emeritus of obstetrics and gynaecology at NUI Galway and a conference organiser, said its outcome would provide “clarity and confirmation” to doctors and legislators dealing with these issues.

<snip>

“We uphold that there is a fundamental difference between abortion and necessary medical treatments that are carried out to save the life of the mother, even if such treatment results in the loss of life of her unborn child.

“We confirm that the prohibition of abortion does not affect, in any way, the availability of optimal care to pregnant women

I'm sure Professor O'Dwyer will be happy to explain how this relats to the particulars of this case to the press.

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art dunce
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It is too bad this thread isn't in hell. When I saw her beautiful, smiling face and then read about what she and her dear husband endured and the wanton cruelty and complete disregard for her life, humanity and suffering that occurred I want to cry. This whole movement is about hating women. Period. Luckily, more and more people are seeing through the pseudo 'pro life' facade and are fighting to have proper medical care replace Medieval torture. The clinic in Belfast is a start and hopefully the decline of Catholicism will usher in a new and better era for women.

-and I say this as someone who lived in Ireland and loves both the country and the people.

[ 14. November 2012, 22:23: Message edited by: art dunce ]

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art dunce
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Irish torture of mothers.

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First Witness
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Havng read the story it would seem that she may have lost the baby due to being ill.
That they overlooked the cause because of the symptoms being masked by the miscarriage.

Seems neglect was the reason she lost her life and that of her child. No hospital would remove a living baby but they should have carried out checks to see if the symptoms were masking anything else.

It is a very sad story but it is a sickening blow for this to happen in this day and age.

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art dunce
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Sorry my second link from Irish Times not there.

"They viewed symphysiotomy (wrongly) as a gateway to childbearing without limitation, seeing Caesarean section – the norm for difficult births – as morally hazardous, capping family size and leading to sterilisation and contraception. Symphysiotomy was promoted as permanently widening the pelvis, enabling an unlimited number of vaginal deliveries, whereas four C-sections was widely regarded as the maximum for safety. "

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Crœsos
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quote:
Originally posted by First Witness:
Havng read the story it would seem that she may have lost the baby due to being ill.
That they overlooked the cause because of the symptoms being masked by the miscarriage.

Seems neglect was the reason she lost her life and that of her child. No hospital would remove a living baby but they should have carried out checks to see if the symptoms were masking anything else.

Sorry, but I'm going to have to call bullshit on this "no hospital would ever perform an abortion!" line of reasoning. What's your basis for this, exactly?

Unless you mean "no Irish hospital would ever perform an abortion!", which is more or less the point of this thread.

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mousethief

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They were so pro-life that two lives died.

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First Witness
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quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
quote:
Originally posted by First Witness:
Havng read the story it would seem that she may have lost the baby due to being ill.
That they overlooked the cause because of the symptoms being masked by the miscarriage.

Seems neglect was the reason she lost her life and that of her child. No hospital would remove a living baby but they should have carried out checks to see if the symptoms were masking anything else.

Sorry, but I'm going to have to call bullshit on this "no hospital would ever perform an abortion!" line of reasoning. What's your basis for this, exactly?

Unless you mean "no Irish hospital would ever perform an abortion!", which is more or less the point of this thread.

My line of reasoning that no hospital would perform an abortion where there is an heartbeat from the baby is based on personal experience.

I miscarried twins at about 18 weeks. Only one twin had come away but the other one was still in the womb. Before they did any evactuation of matter from the womb they checked to see if their was any heart beat to see if the baby was still alive. It wasn't so they had to remove the baby.

My sister also had a miscarriage and the baby had come away but the bleeding stopped before they took her to theatre to remove the after birth.
They scanned her and found an heart beat she had been carrying twins but lost one of them.

So I am speaking from personal experience and knowledge of what happens during the loss of a baby and where a baby can survive even though another has miscarried.

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Crœsos
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That doesn't seem to match up with the NHS webpage on abortion, which lists "personal circumstances" and "health risk to the mother" as reasons for abortion. There doesn't seem to be any mention of a "no heartbeat" requirement, and I don't see how there could be one if "personal circumstances" is a reason to have an abortion.

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Curiosity killed ...

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Croesos, that's because this case is in Ireland, a different country with different laws and a different health service to the UK. It is also a catholic country.

Yes, 6 counties in the north east corner of the island are part of the UK, but the rest is not. And Northern Ireland has only just opened its first abortion clinic. Until now, any Irish woman, Northern Irish or Irish, wanting an abortion was likely to come to England.

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North East Quine

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I had a miscarriage in 1998; I hemorrhaged and had to have an emergency ERPOC (Evacuation of the Retained Products of Conception.)I had been scanned, and there was no heartbeat. In 2001 I was again miscarrying, and bleeding heavily. I'd already had the first scan, so we knew it wasn't twins. This time they didn't scan for a heartbeat. The doctor told me that it was possible that there might still be a heartbeat, but that the baby couldn't survive. As he put it, the question wasn't "Is the baby alive or dead?" but "Is the baby dying or dead?"

Technically, my 2001 pregnancy might have involved my baby being aborted a few hours before it would have died in the womb, or it might have been already dead.

My view is that if God had wanted that baby to live, I wouldn't have been in hospital, bleeding heavily, with a dangerously dropping BP. It's not that I hadn't told God often enough in prayer that I desperately wanted that baby to live!

So my experience is that no, they don't always check for a heartbeat in the UK.

[ 15. November 2012, 09:24: Message edited by: North East Quine ]

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Liopleurodon

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The "except to save the life of the mother" clauses in abortion law in various countries sound reasonable enough, but in reality they're always likely to lead to this kind of situation because medical practice always relies on weighing up risks and possible outcomes. It looks as though what happened here was that although the patient was clearly unwell, she wasn't clearly at risk of death, so intervention was left until it was too late. These rules tend to behave as though it's always a clearcut situation: Ms A. will definitely survive pregnancy, whereas Ms B. definitely won't. It would be simpler if biology worked that way but it doesn't - there is always a balance of risk.

So when the mother's life is at risk, how much at risk does it need to be? A 1% chance of death before delivery? An 80% chance? The trouble is that a 1% chance can turn into an 80% chance with alarming speed, because pregnancy is a risky thing to go through when it starts to go wrong. At that point you need doctors to have the freedom to step in and do what needs to be done quickly rather than having to faff about and get legal advice.

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Crœsos
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quote:
Originally posted by Curiosity killed ...:
Croesos, that's because this case is in Ireland, a different country with different laws and a different health service to the UK. It is also a catholic country.

I was using the NHS website because First Witness' profile claims to originate in the UK.

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marzipan
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quote:
Originally posted by First Witness:
Having read the story it would seem that she may have lost the baby due to being ill.
That they overlooked the cause because of the symptoms being masked by the miscarriage.

I found on the RTE website a timeline of her case according to the hospital.

This article describes events as the husband has reported them.

Quote from the second of those:
quote:
Mr Halappanavar requested that his wife be seen by a doctor and he was told that there was a cervical dilation and that they did not think the baby would survive.
He said he was told it would all be over in four or five hours and that his wife could then go home.

(my bold)
This was on the Sunday morning. She didn't miscarry (according to the hospital timeline) until the Tuesday.

According to some reports (it was in the irish Times report that I linked in the OP - can't find reference to it today), she died of septicaemia (blood poisoning). It's my understanding that this can be caused by having things like, oh, a dying baby inside you for two days.

People may be interested in
this BBC article wondering if a similar case could have happened in Northern Ireland, where abortion laws are stricter than England, Wales & Scotland, but slightly more relaxed than the Republic.

ETA: even the Republic of Ireland allows abortion to save the life of the mother (eg ectopic pregnancies). It's also allowed to have, for instance, cancer treatment which may cause miscarriage/death of the baby as a 'side effect'. The thing with this case seems to be that her life didn't appear to be in danger until after she actually miscarried.

This case scares me so much. I live here. This could be me, or my friends, their sisters or their wives.

[ 15. November 2012, 12:30: Message edited by: cheesymarzipan ]

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Doublethink.
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quote:
Originally posted by art dunce:
Irish torture of mothers.

Found more info.

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Jane R
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Liopleurodon:
quote:
These rules tend to behave as though it's always a clearcut situation: Ms A. will definitely survive pregnancy, whereas Ms B. definitely won't. It would be simpler if biology worked that way but it doesn't - there is always a balance of risk.

So when the mother's life is at risk, how much at risk does it need to be?

Good question. And I think the only person who should have a right to decide this is the one who is risking her life. There are many cases of women who have refused medical treatment that would endanger their unborn babies or chosen to continue with high-risk pregnancies, and their courage is admirable (thinking of NEQ in particular). But I don't think it is something that should be required by law, any more than a man is required by law to run into a burning building in order to save someone else.

Perhaps in the future it will be possible to transfer the developing foetus out of the mother's body and into someone else's. At that time I expect abortion clinics will be inundated with pro-life volunteers willing to offer their own bodies as alternative incubators... won't they?

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North East Quine

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quote:
their courage is admirable (thinking of NEQ in particular).
At the time it was more a case of me sticking my fingers in my ears and saying "I can't hear you. Lalalalalala" interspersed with wibbles and the consumption of chocolate, lots of chocolate. Also, I had absolute faith in Aberdeen Maternity Hospital to not actually let me die.

Anyone who knows me in RL would not have described me as "courageous" ("bone-headed" perhaps) and at least one doctor described me as being "in denial."

But thank you, Jane R!

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George Spigot

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quote:
Originally posted by art dunce:
It is too bad this thread isn't in hell. When I saw her beautiful, smiling face and then read about what she and her dear husband endured and the wanton cruelty and complete disregard for her life, humanity and suffering that occurred I want to cry. This whole movement is about hating women. Period. Luckily, more and more people are seeing through the pseudo 'pro life' facade and are fighting to have proper medical care replace Medieval torture. The clinic in Belfast is a start and hopefully the decline of Catholicism will usher in a new and better era for women.

-and I say this as someone who lived in Ireland and loves both the country and the people.

For a lot of people of no faith this is also extreamily upsetting. The presenter of Young Turks had a melt down over it.

WARNING LOTS OF SWEARING IN THIS VIDEO.


Young Turks comment on Irish abortion case

Does he straw man? Is his anger at the effects of religious power in general justified?

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by Jane R:
Liopleurodon:
quote:
These rules tend to behave as though it's always a clearcut situation: Ms A. will definitely survive pregnancy, whereas Ms B. definitely won't. It would be simpler if biology worked that way but it doesn't - there is always a balance of risk.

So when the mother's life is at risk, how much at risk does it need to be?

Good question. And I think the only person who should have a right to decide this is the one who is risking her life.
This. Every pregnancy is potentially life-threatening; any number of things can "go wrong." Asking someone else to risk their life for your philosophy is akin to slavery, unless they're in the army or something.

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Jane R
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NEQ:
quote:
Anyone who knows me in RL would not have described me as "courageous" ("bone-headed" perhaps) and at least one doctor described me as being "in denial."
Does it have to be one or the other? Why not all three at once, with a side order of 'scared shitless'? [Biased]

Reality is messy.

[ 19. November 2012, 09:27: Message edited by: Jane R ]

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The best and succinct explanation of the legal and political vacuum that lead to the death of Savita - from Gene Kerrigan in yesterday's Sunday Independent.

Gene Kerrigan, Sunday Independent 18th November 2012

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Soror Magna
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The vacuum isn't the problem -- Canada has a vacuum.

Nature abhors a vacuum. Ireland's problem is the vacuum has filled up with misogyny, and the church has played a major role.

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Hi,

Sorry to jump into this discussion late. I'm in a "sorta anti-abortion but not an absolutist but vacillating quiet a bit" position at the moment, trying to clarify how I feel about the recent death of Savita Halappanavar in an Irish hospital.

Catholic sources online seem to be saying that both Irish abortion policy and practice in hospitals and catholic moral theology say that the miscarrying baby could have been 'removed', e.g.

William Oddie, Catholic Herald:
http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/commentandblogs/2012/11/15/the-tragic-death-of-savita-halappanavar-should-not-be-exploited-to -sweep-away-irish-abortion-law-under-which-she-could-legally-have-been-saved/

"on the face of it, a refusal to save Mrs Halappanavar’s life by inducing her unborn child, when it was clear that her death would in any case lead to the death of the child (this in fact happened in this case), does not seem to be consistent either with Catholic moral theology or, it is now being claimed, with Irish law or the guidelines which govern medical practice in such cases."


Eilís Mulroy, Irish Independent:
http://www.independent.ie/opinion/analysis/eils-mulroy-prochoice-side-must-not-hijack-this-terrible-event-3294723.html

"The question that needs to be asked is: was Ms Halappanavar treated in line with existing obstetrical practice in Ireland? In this kind of situation the baby can be induced early (though is very unlikely to survive). The decision to induce labour early would be fully in compliance with the law and the current guidelines set out for doctors by the Irish Medical Council. Those guidelines allow interventions to treat women where necessary, even if that treatment indirectly results in the death to the baby. If they aren't being followed, laws about abortion won't change that.
The issue then becomes about medical protocols being followed in hospitals and not about the absence of legal abortion in Ireland."

These suggest that under current law in Ireland there was nothing to stop the dying baby being removed, and that this death is a matter of misdiagnosis or malpractice.

Fletcher Christian's long post above argues that while abortion is technically allowed in certain critical situations in Ireland, political expediency has muddied the waters so much that no clear guidelines have been given to doctors, and they are therefore reluctant to risk any action that might get them in trouble. This has resulted in an effective ban on all abortions.

So which is the case? Do abortions ever occur in Ireland, for example in extreme situations such as when the mother's life is threatened? What would a UK hospital have done in this situation that an Irish one could not?

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Also, to clarify: what would the the normal procedure in a UK hospital in the case of a 17 week pregnant woman who miscarries? Is an abortion (or 'evacuation' then routinely carried out, or is it normal procedure to let 'nature take its course' unless there is a threat to the life of the mother?
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Answering my own questions here: most commonly in the case of a 'non-problematic' miscarriage drugs are administered to induce labour and the foetus is delivered in the usual way.
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So I guess then the questions is whether the unborn child is still alive or not, and how UK or Irish hospitals would differ in their approach.

It would seem fairly clear that inducing the labour of a miscarrying mother in full knowledge that a 17 week old unborn baby is clearly not going to survive is NOT actively and deliberately taking the life of that child, and so would be allowed under Irish Law/catholic theology.

But I assume we don't know what treatment the mother was given in the three days before she died, and everything focuses on that.

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fletcher christian

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posted by Foxy:
quote:

Fletcher Christian's long post above argues that while abortion is technically allowed in certain critical situations in Ireland, political expediency has muddied the waters so much that no clear guidelines have been given to doctors, and they are therefore reluctant to risk any action that might get them in trouble. This has resulted in an effective ban on all abortions.

There was an important bit you missed out of the argument (which admitedly was far too long) about the element of historic boards of hospitals being dominated by RC religious orders and clergy, and because the legislation is so muddled, could use it to make a case to sack any doctor they feel acts against their particular moral quandries.

You also quote the Catholic Herald who say now, in hindsight, something quite different from what they would have said two weeks ago, and there's very important reason they are saying that - they don't want a referendum.

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quote:

You also quote the Catholic Herald who say now, in hindsight, something quite different from what they would have said two weeks ago, and there's very important reason they are saying that - they don't want a referendum.

Hi, thanks for responding. Could you unpack the above a little? Do you mean they would have responded differently before this story broke? How so?

From what I can gather from some googling, the state of things in Ireland is that when the mother's life is in danger through ectopic pregnancy or cancer the mother's life IS given priority and procedures that will indirectly cause the death of the unborn child are allowed and do occur reasonably frequently. What isn't allowed is the direct killing of the baby through the usual abortion procedure.

Pro-life advocates claim that these are not abortions as such (because it is not a deliberate and direct killing), and that therefore abortions are ever necessary in order to protect the life and health of women. See http://liveactionnews.org/investigative/fact-check/no-more-lies/

Their article references The International Symposium on Excellence in Maternal Healthcare, which met in Dublin in September and announced the following:

quote:

* As experienced practitioners and researchers in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, we affirm that direct abortion is not medically necessary to save the life of a woman.
* We uphold that there is a fundamental difference between abortion, and necessary medical treatments that are carried out to save the life of the mother, even if such treatment results in the loss of life of her unborn child.
* We confirm that the prohibition of abortion does not affect, in any way, the availability of optimal care to pregnant women.

Their head man is Dr Eamon O'Dwyer, professor emeritus of obstetrics and gynaecology at NUI Galway, who is known for his pro-life views. It is hard to tell how credible this organisation is in terms of representing genuine medical consensus.
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Foxy:

Appreciate you're a decent chap but take it from me (with a good inside source) that anything approved by the Catholic Media Office, either here or in Ireland - in other words William Oddie or anyone remotely "official" in Ireland - they're frantically re-interpreting things since the needless death of this woman.

The hospital told the husband that they couldn't do anything because "Ireland is a Catholic country" - and while that may not strictly be true, there was never going to be any other interpretation.

As for your blithe assumption that labour can be induced and the (dead) baby be delivered "in the usual way" this is not a given. The body's reaction to prostaglandins given in the hope of starting/speeding up contractions can vary enormously. In the case of a woman only in the second trimester of pregnancy -17 weeks I think? - the body will do its utmost NOT to start the delivery process.

What should have happened - at the very least - was for the blood loss to be closely monitored because this would likely have indicated after 36 hours maximum that so much had been lost that the placenta was incapable of sustaining the pregnancy. And at that point the baby was not going to live so should have been removed - surgically preferably since the woman was by that stage already severely traumatised and physically weak.

As for a foetal heartbeat being heard - sometimes you hear what you want to hear. And in the case of a dying/dead foetus it is not beyond the realm of possibility that when they thought they were picking up a foetal heartbeat they were, in fact, listening to an echo of the mother's own blood flow.

This woman should not have died. And she won't be the last because there are too many "pro-life" nutters in the Ireland who prevent it happening again. And also because doctors in Irish hospitals are so scared of doing the sane, sensible, LEGAL thing and then being shopped by a pro-life nurse or admin type that they won't stick their necks out carry out procedures.

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marzipan
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Long slightly ranty post - I've obviously been bottling my opinions up over the last few days!
quote:
Originally posted by Foxymoron:
quote:

You also quote the Catholic Herald who say now, in hindsight, something quite different from what they would have said two weeks ago, and there's very important reason they are saying that - they don't want a referendum.

Hi, thanks for responding. Could you unpack the above a little? Do you mean they would have responded differently before this story broke? How so?
I'm not Fletcher Christian, but I think that they would have said something different before this story broke.
Abortion law was already in the news here as the ECHR had already called for a clarification on current law, due to a previous case from 2010 known as the ABC case. The ECHR wasn't requiring a change to the current law or constitution - just a clarification to the actual legal situation in Ireland.
But Savita's case has had a massive reaction here - perhaps because her identity has been made public. Previous cases have had the women's identity protected, so perhaps it's easier to ignore someone who is just a letter in a legal case, not a name and a picture and a real person with a grieving family.

quote:

From what I can gather from some googling, the state of things in Ireland is that when the mother's life is in danger through ectopic pregnancy or cancer the mother's life IS given priority and procedures that will indirectly cause the death of the unborn child are allowed and do occur reasonably frequently. What isn't allowed is the direct killing of the baby through the usual abortion procedure.

I haven't seen the medical guidelines(though I would be interested to read them) but the law just says 'with due regard for the life of the mother'. It seems that some doctors interpret this as - if you're not actually dying, we won't directly intervene in a way that might cause the baby to die before its heartbeat has stopped.

quote:

Pro-life advocates claim that these are not abortions as such (because it is not a deliberate and direct killing), and that therefore abortions are ever necessary in order to protect the life and health of women. See http://liveactionnews.org/investigative/fact-check/no-more-lies/

Their article references The International Symposium on Excellence in Maternal Healthcare, which met in Dublin in September and announced the following:

quote:

* As experienced practitioners and researchers in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, we affirm that direct abortion is not medically necessary to save the life of a woman.
* We uphold that there is a fundamental difference between abortion, and necessary medical treatments that are carried out to save the life of the mother, even if such treatment results in the loss of life of her unborn child.
* We confirm that the prohibition of abortion does not affect, in any way, the availability of optimal care to pregnant women.

Their head man is Dr Eamon O'Dwyer, professor emeritus of obstetrics and gynaecology at NUI Galway, who is known for his pro-life views. It is hard to tell how credible this organisation is in terms of representing genuine medical consensus.

Interesting that this guy is from NUI Galway when Savita was treated at University Hospital Galway.

In the last couple of days, the main news item about this has been the setting up of the inquiry into her death. I haven't been researching it too much (I've been busy), but they've gone from a panel including people from the hospital involved to a panel made up of people who weren't directly involved in the case. This was mostly because Praveen Hallapanavar (Savita's husband) refused to cooperate with a panel including people who'd been directly involved. He wanted an independent inquiry. (Surely that should be the default - the people involved are unlikely to say 'oh, yes, we weren't acting in her best interests, were we?')

The inquiry is supposed to give a preliminary report by Christmas.

(rant alert)
This whole case makes me so angry. The reasoning of the 'pro-life' doctors seems like they just want to be able to say 'I never directly killed an unborn child. Yes, some died as a side effect of treatment I administered to a pregnant woman. Yes, some were miscarried. But I let them miscarry in their own time, I didn't hurry it along'
I mean - what was their plan to help the baby survive? Keep her in hospital for another few weeks and see if it still had a heartbeat by the time it could survive outside the womb?
I'm not trying to make inflammatory comparisons, but it seems a bit like saying to a starving person 'No, I don't have any food to give you. God wants you to be hungry. You will just have to die of hunger, but I won't kill you myself'
(end rant)

Just to make it clear - my anger isn't aimed at the medical professions in general. Several of my friends have had babies in Irish hospitals since I've moved here, and all of them have said how well they were looked after. Apparently Ireland has one of the best records for maternal health. I am angry at the particular people involved in this particular case, and the law makers who haven't made it clear how to uphold the law in practice.

I am pro choice - but if I had to choose, I think and I hope that I would choose to stay pregnant. Obviously I don't actually know what choices I would make in every situation. But just because I would choose to stay pregnant if it happened, doesn't mean that I want somebody else to choose for me. And it doesn't mean that my life is worth less than a life that can't survive without me.

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Crœsos
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quote:
Originally posted by cheesymarzipan:
quote:
Originally posted by Foxymoron:
Pro-life advocates claim that these are not abortions as such (because it is not a deliberate and direct killing), and that therefore abortions are ever necessary in order to protect the life and health of women. See http://liveactionnews.org/investigative/fact-check/no-more-lies/

Their article references The International Symposium on Excellence in Maternal Healthcare, which met in Dublin in September and announced the following:

quote:
* As experienced practitioners and researchers in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, we affirm that direct abortion is not medically necessary to save the life of a woman.
* We uphold that there is a fundamental difference between abortion, and necessary medical treatments that are carried out to save the life of the mother, even if such treatment results in the loss of life of her unborn child.
* We confirm that the prohibition of abortion does not affect, in any way, the availability of optimal care to pregnant women.

Their head man is Dr Eamon O'Dwyer, professor emeritus of obstetrics and gynaecology at NUI Galway, who is known for his pro-life views. It is hard to tell how credible this organisation is in terms of representing genuine medical consensus.
Interesting that this guy is from NUI Galway when Savita was treated at University Hospital Galway.
I'd be very interested to know if any of the medical staff attending Ms. Halappanavar were present at Professor O'Dwyer's symposium, and what affect his assurances that "direct abortion is not medically necessary to save the life of a woman" had on any who might have attended. Did they simply take him at his word? It's not an unreasonable question given the relationship between the university and the hospital.

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quote:
L'organist:

As for your blithe assumption that labour can be induced and the (dead) baby be delivered "in the usual way" this is not a given. The body's reaction to prostaglandins given in the hope of starting/speeding up contractions can vary enormously. In the case of a woman only in the second trimester of pregnancy -17 weeks I think? - the body will do its utmost NOT to start the delivery process.

Ok, obviously in medicine events don't always follow the ideal path and numerous factors can complicate things. Until the inquiry is complete we won't know exactly what happened.
It seems here that the woman was judged not be at risk of her life, but if it came down to the mother's life or the baby's then doctors would have removed the baby, even if it was still alive (but doomed). Obviously the assessment of her condition was a misjudgment - perhaps due to incompetence or perhaps this was one of those cases where everything seems fine and normal procedure was followed but then it all went horribly wrong.

If abortion was permissible and common then obviously they could have whipped the baby out immediately and everything would have been ok. But I doubt whether even in UK hospitals, where abortion is perfectly legal, they opt for it so readily. From what I've read about miscarriage most are left to proceed naturally, and surgery to prevent infection is only resorted to if the process does not fully complete. All doctors have to make a judgment as to when to deploy the surgical "big guns", and play the odds in their guestimates about what action to take and when. The question is whether in this case the woman's non-invasive treatment was unduly prolonged because of the prohibitions and general nervousness surrounding abortion.

I'd suggest this is very difficult to determine, or very difficult to tell apart from general mischance or malpractice. After all it would be theoretically safer to abort in all cases of miscarriage where there is the faintest risk or infection - UK hospitals could also be accused of negligence when they haven't immediately performed an abortion where even the smallest risk is present. The same situation already exists with regard to caesarians: natural birth is preferred as a general principle and caesarians are generally only used beyond a certain point of risk or when serious problems arise.
My wife came close to death from pre-eclampsia with our first child and had an emergency c-section, which fixed the problem. But it would have been one hell of a lot easier, safer and less traumatic if they'd done it 18 hours earlier. On that basis the principle that natural birth is best undoubtedly causes the deaths of some mothers.

So it may be that the abortion 'taboo' in Ireland does cause some deaths, but it will be very hard to prove. The otherwise excellent maternal mortality rate in Ireland points to it not being statistically significant. (I know that sounds callous but that's how these things are measured).


quote:
This woman should not have died. And she won't be the last because there are too many "pro-life" nutters in the Ireland who prevent it happening again. And also because doctors in Irish hospitals are so scared of doing the sane, sensible, LEGAL thing and then being shopped by a pro-life nurse or admin type that they won't stick their necks out carry out procedures.
Then the problem isn't the law or catholic theology but a rogue set of more-catholic-than-thou zealots creating an atmosphere of paranoia and mistrust. Yet presumably if abortion was legalised in Ireland there would be certain restrictions, and THAT would become the grey area within which these ever-vigilant zealots stalked, and such deaths could still occur.
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Yerevan
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I'm reluctant to comment on the case because, pending an inquiry, we really don't *know* what happened.

I'm wary however of the simplistic idea that the Irish are unenthusiastic about liberalising abortion law because the Irish Republic is " a conservative Catholic country". It actually isn't. For example polls suggest that a clear majority favour legislating for same-sex marriage. I think Ireland is actually just about the only country in Europe where the debate is relatively open and even, and this produces a more 'conservative' attitude than many non-Irish liberals are comfortable with (I say this as an Irish person who was no more 'liberal' on the issue in her militantly anti-Catholic atheist days than she is now). IIRC polls consistently suggest that the overwhelming majority of Irish people favour legalised abortion in cases where the mother's life is in danger (which would cover this case, assuming the accounts coming out are true), but not abortion on demand.

[ 24. November 2012, 08:43: Message edited by: Yerevan ]

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fletcher christian

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posted by Foxymoron:
quote:

Then the problem isn't the law or catholic theology but a rogue set of more-catholic-than-thou zealots creating an atmosphere of paranoia and mistrust. Yet presumably if abortion was legalised in Ireland there would be certain restrictions, and THAT would become the grey area within which these ever-vigilant zealots stalked, and such deaths could still occur.

Not really, and I think you're missing the point. The fact is that the law is muddled - for complex reasons, but not least because successive governments have botched the referendums and left an openly muddled situation. But I'll go over this one last time and hopefully it will be clearer. The issue is both the present law, those who are anti-abortion and the members of the Catholic church and Orders who take a very conservative line and who sit on hospital boards. It has left a situation where the law is open to a certain amount of interpretation which means that the situation can be very unclear. Doctors, nurses and surgeons don't want to take the risk of loosing their jobs, of being taken to court and possibly even being sent to jail on a charge of murder or some configuration of manslaughter. In the Savita case, if the abortion had been carried out, the law is so muddled that a hospital board, heavily dominated by conservative members of church Orders could have easily dismissed those involved and dragged them through the courts. As it happens, it was their inaction and paralysis that has resulted in death. But this isn't the only case in Ireland since the last referendum on the topic. There have been four others - labelled cases, A, B, C and X in the press, as their identities have been protected. So the Savita case has added fuel to the anger of a litany of cases where the law as it stands has been proven to be flawed.

Now the likes of the Catholic Herald, have before this case been quite happy to stand over the law as it stands. Now they are trying to backtrack and with other conservative groups say that the Savita case is special and very rare and we really don't need a change or a referendum, and they are even backtracking on pronouncements they made a few years ago. Most people here can thankfully see through it, and they are no longer willing to listen to a church on moral issues that they feel has been seriously morally compromised. The Catholic Herald will say anything to stop a referendum because they fear that the legislation with a liberally minded government at present will result in something they really don't want, so to say there is nothing wrong with the Catholic theology and the present legislation is simply them trying to cover their backs and stop a referendum. In other words, they are laying the blame squarely at the feet of the doctors, nurses and surgeons and saying that their own campaigning in the last referendum and the muddied waters they helped to create have nothing to do with this tragic death. I'd love to be hellish about this stance, but I can't here.

Personally speaking I would like to see a situation where abortion is permitted under limited circumstances, particularly in medical cases and in situations of rape or abuse. But the only way to get clarity on the issue is with legislation and a referendum.

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Crœsos
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There seems to be a misconception (particularly with Foxymoron, but I've seen it with others) that the Catholic Church is okay with abortions if performed to save the life of the mother. It is not. We covered this rather extensively in the ectopic pregnancy thread. The Catholic Church is okay with providing treatment to a pregnant woman if the treatment incidentally leads to the termination of the pregnancy, but is strongly against doing anything if it's the pregnancy itself that's the problem. See, for instance, my post detailing the Catholic-influenced anti-abortion law in El Salvador which prevents hospitals from terminating ectopic pregnancies unless the fetal heartbeat has stopped or there's an actual fallopian hemorrhage in progress.

The law of Ireland, of course, is not the same as the law of the Catholic Church, but I thought it important to clear up this misconception.

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Chesterbelloc

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quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
There seems to be a misconception (particularly with Foxymoron, but I've seen it with others) that the Catholic Church is okay with abortions if performed to save the life of the mother. It is not. We covered this rather extensively in the ectopic pregnancy thread. The Catholic Church is okay with providing treatment to a pregnant woman if the treatment incidentally leads to the termination of the pregnancy, but is strongly against doing anything if it's the pregnancy itself that's the problem. See, for instance, my post detailing the Catholic-influenced anti-abortion law in El Salvador which prevents hospitals from terminating ectopic pregnancies unless the fetal heartbeat has stopped or there's an actual fallopian hemorrhage in progress.

The law of Ireland, of course, is not the same as the law of the Catholic Church, but I thought it important to clear up this misconception.

Actually, as I understand it, you're labouring under a misconception yourself.

It is true that the direct and deliberate killing of a fetus in the womb as a means even to saving the mother's life is morally illicit in Catholic terms. But in fact, it could (depending on the details) have been quite compatible with Catholic teaching to remove a living embryo/fetus to save a mother's life so long as the child's life was not directly ended in the process - even if it could reasonably be predicted that the child would die as a result of being removed.

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Crœsos
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quote:
Originally posted by Chesterbelloc:
It is true that the direct and deliberate killing of a fetus in the womb as a means even to saving the mother's life is morally illicit in Catholic terms. But in fact, it could (depending on the details) have been quite compatible with Catholic teaching to remove a living embryo/fetus to save a mother's life so long as the child's life was not directly ended in the process - even if it could reasonably be predicted that the child would die as a result of being removed.

Your assertion seems contrary to the Catholic Church's position allowing salpingectomies (removing part or all of the fallopian tube, along with the misplaced embryo/fetus) but forbidding salpingostomies (simply removing the embryo/fetus from the fallopian tube) in cases of ectopic pregnancies. If removing a living embryo is okay, even when doing so is certain to result in its death, wouldn't the Catholic Church be okay with salpingostomies? Or any form of intact abortion, for that matter?

[ 24. November 2012, 18:13: Message edited by: Crœsos ]

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Chesterbelloc

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quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
quote:
Originally posted by Chesterbelloc:
It is true that the direct and deliberate killing of a fetus in the womb as a means even to saving the mother's life is morally illicit in Catholic terms. But in fact, it could (depending on the details) have been quite compatible with Catholic teaching to remove a living embryo/fetus to save a mother's life so long as the child's life was not directly ended in the process - even if it could reasonably be predicted that the child would die as a result of being removed.

Your assertion seems contrary to the Catholic Church's position allowing salpingectomies (removing part or all of the fallopian tube, along with the misplaced embryo/fetus) but forbidding salpingostomies (simply removing the embryo/fetus from the fallopian tube) in cases of ectopic pregnancies.
First, how is my assertion above, which makes no mention of whether the embryo was in or out of the tube, contrary to what the Church teaches? I admit I left the details under which the embryo could licitly be removed whilst still alive deliberately vague ("depending on the details") because my knowledge of the details is, I fully admit, rusty and vague.

But I knew that it could be permissable for the living embryo to be removed whilst within the tube.

To be honest, I can't see why, according to the same principle, a living embryo/fetus could not be licitly removed in certain circumstances even when not in the fallopian tube, so long as any resulting death was otherwise unavoudable, indirect and unintentional.

In fact, I don't know that the Church definitely teaches against that. What is your evidence that it does so teach?

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Foxymoron
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quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
There seems to be a misconception (particularly with Foxymoron, but I've seen it with others) that the Catholic Church is okay with abortions if performed to save the life of the mother. It is not. We covered this rather extensively in the ectopic pregnancy thread. The Catholic Church is okay with providing treatment to a pregnant woman if the treatment incidentally leads to the termination of the pregnancy, but is strongly against doing anything if it's the pregnancy itself that's the problem. See, for instance, my post detailing the Catholic-influenced anti-abortion law in El Salvador which prevents hospitals from terminating ectopic pregnancies unless the fetal heartbeat has stopped or there's an actual fallopian hemorrhage in progress.

The law of Ireland, of course, is not the same as the law of the Catholic Church, but I thought it important to clear up this misconception.

I don't think I said "abortions" - it seems pretty clear that's the one thing the church won't approve. I think I'm right in saying that they accept there is no point in allowing a baby to kill the mother because then they'll both die anyway. They will for example induce a birth when the child has no chance to live. There are numerous other possible options, but it's not clear, to me anyway, exactly what they are. As I say there are pro-life medical experts who argue that there are always viable and pragmatic alternatives to abortion, and these will cause no more deaths than if abortion was unrestricted.

What they absolutely won't do is deliberately and actively kill an unborn child by e.g. the usual abortion methods.

The Catholic News Service article linked contains the clarification offered after Sister Margaret Mary McBride was excommunicated for her part in a decision to approve an abortion at a Phoenix Catholic Hospital in 2009. It doesn't provide any alternative treatment that could have ended the life-threatening pregnancy by the 'double-effect' approach, leaving one to conclude that the mother would have had to take her chances:

USCCB committee explains direct abortion, legitimate medical procedure

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quote:
Originally posted by Foxymoron:
I don't think I said "abortions" - it seems pretty clear that's the one thing the church won't approve. I think I'm right in saying that they accept there is no point in allowing a baby to kill the mother because then they'll both die anyway. They will for example induce a birth when the child has no chance to live.

I think you're trying to parse a difference where none exists. There's no medical difference between "induc[ing] a birth when the child has no chance to live" and "abortion".

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Eliab
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# 9153

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quote:
Originally posted by Chesterbelloc:
It is true that the direct and deliberate killing of a fetus in the womb as a means even to saving the mother's life is morally illicit in Catholic terms. But in fact, it could (depending on the details) have been quite compatible with Catholic teaching to remove a living embryo/fetus to save a mother's life so long as the child's life was not directly ended in the process - even if it could reasonably be predicted that the child would die as a result of being removed.

It's that "depending on the details" bit that makes Crœsos right.

Catholic ethics do not allow for the simple rule "abortion to save life is permissible". That's his point.

It is certainly true that there is an overlap between the sets of "operations permitted by Catholic ethics which are effectively abortions" and "abortions performed to save life". It is probably also true that the ingenuity and compassion of individual Catholics could, if deployed, make that overlap very large, but it is not an identity. Saving life is not the only criterion to be satisfied in Catholic ethics for abortion to be allowed.

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Chesterbelloc

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# 3128

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quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:
quote:
Originally posted by Chesterbelloc:
It is true that the direct and deliberate killing of a fetus in the womb as a means even to saving the mother's life is morally illicit in Catholic terms. But in fact, it could (depending on the details) have been quite compatible with Catholic teaching to remove a living embryo/fetus to save a mother's life so long as the child's life was not directly ended in the process - even if it could reasonably be predicted that the child would die as a result of being removed.

It's that "depending on the details" bit that makes Crœsos right.

Catholic ethics do not allow for the simple rule "abortion to save life is permissible". That's his point.

But, Eliab, my point is that Catholic ethics does stipulate just that simple rule - with the definition of abortion as the direct and deliberate killing of a child in the womb.

Performing operations on the mother - say, removing the embryo/fetus from the fallopian tube - which will certainly and predictably lead to child dying can indeed be justified if the other conditions of double-effect are met. As I understand it, in those cases Catholic ethics would indeed permit such operations, because they do not fall under the definition of abortion as the Church understands it.

I am not a moral theologian, however, so I could be wrong about that.

[ 26. November 2012, 11:29: Message edited by: Chesterbelloc ]

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Crœsos
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# 238

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quote:
Originally posted by Chesterbelloc:
But, Eliab, my point is that Catholic ethics does stipulate just that simple rule - with the definition of abortion as the direct and deliberate killing of a child in the womb.

Performing operations on the mother - say, removing the embryo/fetus from the fallopian tube - which will certainly and predictably lead to child dying can indeed be justified if the other conditions of double-effect are met. As I understand it, in those cases Catholic ethics would indeed permit such operations, because they do not fall under the definition of abortion as the Church understands it.

I am not a moral theologian, however, so I could be wrong about that.

This seems at odds with the actual actions of the Catholic Church. For instance, if removing a fetus endangering its mother's life is permitted, there wouldn't have been the excommunication of the hospital director described in the article at the bottom of Foxymoron's last post. (We had a thread on this topic when it happened.) The key bit related to the current discussion:

quote:
The committee's statement quoted directive 45: "Abortion (that is, the directly intended termination of pregnancy before viability or the directly intended destruction of a viable fetus) is never permitted. Every procedure whose sole immediate effect is the termination of pregnancy before viability is an abortion, which, in its moral context, includes the interval between conception and implantation of the embryo."
They even helpfully provided a couple of examples to make the distinction clearer:

quote:
In explaining the distinction, the committee offered two examples involving an unborn child not old enough to survive outside the womb.

The first involves a pregnant woman who is experiencing problems with one or more of her organs, apparently because of the added burden of pregnancy. In this case, the doctor recommends an abortion to protect the woman's health.

In the second example, a pregnant woman develops cancer in her uterus. In this case, the doctor recommends surgery to remove the cancerous uterus as the only way to prevent the cancer from spreading. Removing the uterus also will result in the death of the unborn child.

The committee said the first case is an example of a direct abortion. The surgery, the committee explained, does not directly address the health problem of the woman by repairing the organ that is malfunctioning.

"The surgery is likely to improve the functioning of the organ or organs, but only in an indirect way, i.e., by lessening the overall demands placed upon the organ or organs, since the burden posed by the pregnancy will be removed," the committee's statement said. "The abortion is the means by which a reduced strain upon the organ or organs is achieved."

In the second example, the committee explained, "an urgently needed medical procedure indirectly and unintentionally ... results in the death of an unborn child."

Which goes back to my initial take on the subject; if it's the pregnancy itself that's the problem, a woman is out of luck according to Catholic morality.

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Eliab
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# 9153

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quote:
Originally posted by Chesterbelloc:
But, Eliab, my point is that Catholic ethics does stipulate just that simple rule - with the definition of abortion as the direct and deliberate killing of a child in the womb.

Unless I completely misunderstand you, surely you mean that Catholic ethics stipulate the OPPOSITE of the rule - ie. it stipulates that abortion to save life is NOT permitted.

Your qualification is that by defining as 'not abortion' many procedures that have as an unintended but foreseen effect the termination of pregnancy, in practice Catholic teaching does permit a lot of dangerous pregnancies to be terminated. But not all of them.

And that was Crœsos' point. He was saying that people were assuming that the RCC allows abortion to save life, but that in fact this isn't the official line. It can, superficially, look as if it is, because medical interventions which incidentally terminate pregnancy are permitted where life is in danger, but abortion per se (deliberate, intended, abortion) never is.

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Chesterbelloc

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# 3128

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quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:
quote:
Originally posted by Chesterbelloc:
But, Eliab, my point is that Catholic ethics does stipulate just that simple rule - with the definition of abortion as the direct and deliberate killing of a child in the womb.

Unless I completely misunderstand you, surely you mean that Catholic ethics stipulate the OPPOSITE of the rule - ie. it stipulates that abortion to save life is NOT permitted.
Sorry, Eliab - you're quite right. I meant to say it is NOT permitted (I read an "im" where there was none in your quote).
quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:
Your qualification is that by defining as 'not abortion' many procedures that have as an unintended but foreseen effect the termination of pregnancy, in practice Catholic teaching does permit a lot of dangerous pregnancies to be terminated. But not all of them.

Yes, I think that is right.
quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:
And that was Crœsos' point. He was saying that people were assuming that the RCC allows abortion to save life, but that in fact this isn't the official line. It can, superficially, look as if it is, because medical interventions which incidentally terminate pregnancy are permitted where life is in danger, but abortion per se (deliberate, intended, abortion) never is.

Yup, again I think that is correct.

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Chesterbelloc

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# 3128

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Crœsos, I don't think that my last but one post conflicts with the guidelines you quote at all. The sort of licit procedure I was talking about was removal of a piece of tube in which the embryo was lodged - and that seems to be covered by the directives you quote.

What the directives you quote do prohibit is the direct and deliberate termination of a pregnancy by removal of the embryo/fetus in cases where the embryo/fetus itself is not directly causing the danger - that would be abortion "as such". Such was indeed the case Sister McBride was involved in.

I can see why that deliberate abortion is illicit, and I can also see why you say that this menas that if the prgnancy itself is the problem (e.g., the hypertension case) then the woman is "out of luck" - the deliberate and direct cessation of pregnancy is not licitly open to her/the physicians in this case.

Other treatments may be available to the mother in this case, to alleviate the danger - although perhaps not always. And even if they were to be treatments that directly treated the problem itself (say the hypertension by strong drugs which dropped her blood-pressure) but which also incidentally damaged the child or caused a misscarriage, that would be licit too, according to these directives.

I did say above, however, that I was not sure that the removal of an embryo was always outlawed even when it was not lodged in a tube. I can see better now, from the directives you quote, why some of such removals would be directly abortive and therefore illicit, and why others might not be. So I thank you for that.

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Josephine

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# 3899

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The only effective treatment for pre-eclampsia or eclampsia is termination of the preganancy. When you start talking about a pregnant woman with high blood pressure, that's what you are talking about. If the pregnancy isn't terminated, the woman will likely die.

And, as far as I can see, that's okay with the Roman Catholic Church.

To me, they're playing games when they say that you can terminate the pregnancy in the case of an ectopic pregnancy, because the embryo is being removed "incidentally," and the termination is not the intended result of the surgery, but something that just sort of happens as an unintended byproduct of the procedure, but you can't in the case of eclampsia, because the intent of the surgery is terminating the pregnancy.

That's stupid, as far as I'm concerned. In both cases, the intent is to save the mother's life; in both cases, the means of saving the mother's life is terminating the pregnancy, which is what is putting her life at risk. Separating one from the other is just playing word-games: word-games that result in women dying.

May God have mercy.

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