Religious Health Care Under the Radar

Ophelia Benson


Last October, Savita Halappanavar died at University Hospital Galway in Ireland. She was a dentist with a popular practice in Galway, thirty-one years old,and seventeen weeks pregnant. Hav­ing woken up with back pain on Sunday, October 21, Savita went to the hospital and was found to be miscarrying. Sherequested an abortion, but the fetus still had a heartbeat so the hospital refused. The pain got worse, and for three days, she and her husband, Pra­veen,repeatedly requested termination of her pregnancy, to no avail. The fetal heartbeat finally stopped on Wednesday, and the abortion was done. But it was toolate; Savita died of septicemia.

Praveen Halappanavar, an engineer at Boston Scientific in Galway, was angry, and he told the news media what had happened. He reported that one of thedoctors had explained, when refusing the abortion: “This is a Catholic country.”

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