Up until now I've managed to keep this blog a happy little place for light and frivolous things and have avoided writing posts on more serious matters- not intentionally, I just feel quite strongly about certain issues and am not sure this is the appropriate place to voice those opinions, because if I started, I'd probably never stop! Having said that, I found myself wide awake in horror, reading articles and tweets until around 2am last night about Savita Halappanavar's untimely death in University Hospital Galway last month and now I feel so angry that I have to write something. When I say I feel angry, really it's more of a potent mixture of anger and sadness. For anyone unaware of what happened, a 31 year old woman went into hospital at 17 weeks pregnant, complaining of pains. She was sadly found to be miscarrying her first baby. This process lasted for three days- three prolonged days where Savita continued to suffer through this awful experience and pain even though both her and her husband repeatedly asked for a termination- these requests were denied because a foetal heartbeat was still present.
In Ireland, although a termination carried out where the life of the mother is at risk is technically legal, there actually is no legislation for this in place so any Doctor who would have performed a termination for Savita could have potentially faced legal proceedings, hence her requests were refused (rather than go into Ireland's long and sordid history on abortion, here's a fairly succinct article on this matter from todays Guardian that explains it all nicely for me).
A D&C was finally carried out once a foetal heartbeat was no longer detected but at that stage it was too late. Savita was brought to ICU immediately post surgery but tragically, she died of septicaemia. The interviews I've read with Savita's husband Praveen have been truly heartbreaking. For the past 24 hours I've been on a loop of being on the constant verge of tears before wanting to punch a wall..it's just so hard to comprehend how this could have gone so wrong for this poor woman and her family.
Pro-life groups have come out in force today and have clutched on to anything they can to uphold their sense of self-righteousness, for instance, Health Minister James Reilly saying that he "doesn't think" decisions made in Savita's care were based on religion, even though Savita's husband has said that he was told termination would not be possible because "this is a Catholic country". Brilliant. So Reilly is basing his opinion on nothing at all and simultaneously is also completely ignoring what Mr Halappanavar has said he was told. In turn, Youth Defence have decided to pass this on as if Reilly's baseless thoughts on the matter are of any use to this or, for that matter, any situation. Why should anyone at this stage be relying on what any of this government has to say- Taoiseach Enda Kenny and General Waste of Space (his official title) Ronan Mullen have both come out with pointless and hollow comments today too, again based on nothing but their own closed minded opinions.
So what now? Do we all carry on as usual and allow yet another government get away with not legislating on X? Whatever your opinion on abortion, surely no one would wish a situation like Savita's on anyone- because if you're against terminations for medical reasons you have to understand what that means- it means that you, your mother, daughter, sister or friend could find yourself/herself in this exact same situation with potentially the exact same horrific outcome. We need, as a nation to start caring about women and their reproductive rights. Enda Kenny has previously stated that abortion is not a priority for this government and you know, that coming from Fine Gael is no surprise but Labour have always claimed to be pro-choice and yet have so far done nothing to back that stance. It's time now to get angry (angrier, if you're me) and put our collective feet down.
This past year has seen a worldwide war on women- Colette Brown highlighted this in her article today in The Irish Examiner where she refers to the likes of US politicians; Romney, Ryan, Akin and Mourdock, witlessly voicing their opinions on women's bodies, rape and abortion, which was shocking for most normal people to witness but thankfully they were all defeated in the elections (oh I did a merry dance that day, I can tell you). Over here though, it's been just as bad. I refuse to understand why there has been a complete lack of proper sentencing in the last year for violent criminals who have viciously assaulted women, or why every government since 1992 has failed to legislate for a procedure that could save women's lives. Now this case of a young woman dying needlessly..is it because women are deemed to be less important in our society than men (that's not me getting on my feminist high horse by the way, Enda Kenny has explicitly stated that abortion was not an important issue for this government, as I previously mentioned above)? Or is it because there are practically no female politicians in government to represent us? Or is it because our politicians are self serving liars who don't want to rock the boat? Personally, I believe it's an unhealthy mix of all three. A depressing and sobering thought.
If like me, you are sick and tired of this current state of affairs then there's a few things you can do.
Firstly, please write or email your TD and ask them to legislate for the X case. If you're unsure how to go about this, then check out the National Women's Council of Ireland- it goes through it step by step, which I found really handy. Here's the link for that: NWCI- take action.
Secondly, I've found it really useful to follow these pages on Facebook: Unlike Youth Defence, I trust Women to Decide Their Lives For Themselves, Irish Feminist Network, Choice Ireland, Irish Choice Network and TFMR Ireland. I follow these pages not only because I support their viewpoints but also because they're another avenue of information, which is always a good thing.
Lastly, if you'd like to show your support for Savita and her family, there will be a protest starting at 1pm at Daunt Square in Cork on Friday the 16th of November, a protest starting outside Debenhams in Limerick at 3pm, also on Saturday the 16th and a vigil held at the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin at 4pm Saturday the 17th of November.
Ireland failed Savita, her husband and her family and I for one am ashamed to be Irish today.
If you have any thoughts on this issue, you can comment below- I'd love to read them.