Woman 'denied a termination' dies in hospital

[deleted account] ( 29 moms have responded )

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/fron...



I am so sickened that I have been crying for hours. This woman died in horrible pain and it would have been so easy to save her life. Unfortunately as is the case with most Pro-Life countries like Ireland and El Salvador, dying nobly in childbirth is a good thing.



Just know, that this will happen here if the pro-some-life movement gets its way.

***********************************************************************

Two investigations are under way into the death of a woman who was 17 weeks pregnant, at University Hospital Galway last month.



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.



Intensive care



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.



An autopsy carried out by Dr Grace Callagy two days later found she died of septicaemia “documented ante-mortem” and E.coli ESBL.



A hospital spokesman confirmed the Health Service Executive had begun an investigation while the hospital had also instigated an internal investigation. He said the hospital extended its sympathy to the family and friends of Ms Halappanavar but could not discuss the details of any individual case.



Speaking from Belgaum in the Karnataka region of southwest India, Mr Halappanavar said an internal examination was performed when she first presented.



“The doctor told us the cervix was fully dilated, amniotic fluid was leaking and unfortunately the baby wouldn’t survive.” The doctor, he says, said it should be over in a few hours. There followed three days, he says, of the foetal heartbeat being checked several times a day.



“Savita was really in agony. She was very upset, but she accepted she was losing the baby. When the consultant came on the ward rounds on Monday morning Savita asked if they could not save the baby could they induce to end the pregnancy. The consultant said, ‘As long as there is a foetal heartbeat we can’t do anything’.



“Again on Tuesday morning, the ward rounds and the same discussion. The consultant said it was the law, that this is a Catholic country. Savita [a Hindu] said: ‘I am neither Irish nor Catholic’ but they said there was nothing they could do.



“That evening she developed shakes and shivering and she was vomiting. She went to use the toilet and she collapsed. There were big alarms and a doctor took bloods and started her on antibiotics.



“The next morning I said she was so sick and asked again that they just end it, but they said they couldn’t.”



Critically ill



At lunchtime the foetal heart had stopped and Ms Halappanavar was brought to theatre to have the womb contents removed. “When she came out she was talking okay but she was very sick. That’s the last time I spoke to her.”



At 11 pm he got a call from the hospital. “They said they were shifting her to intensive care. Her heart and pulse were low, her temperature was high. She was sedated and critical but stable. She stayed stable on Friday but by 7pm on Saturday they said her heart, kidneys and liver weren’t functioning. She was critically ill. That night, we lost her.”



Mr Halappanavar took his wife’s body home on Thursday, November 1st, where she was cremated and laid to rest on November 3rd.



The hospital spokesman said that in general sudden hospital deaths were reported to the coroner. In the case of maternal deaths, a risk review of the case was carried out.



External experts were involved in this review and the family consulted on the terms of reference. They were also interviewed by the review team and given a copy of the report.

MOST HELPFUL POSTS

Mary - posted on 11/19/2012

3,348

31

123

Kathy, the presence of a heartbeat does not mean the fetus wasn't "rotting" . She was showing rather classic signs of infection upon presentation to the hospital. Her cervix was dilated, and her membranes were ruptured; there is no question about what the source of her infection was. Here's another little interesting tidbit that makes the hospital's inaction even more damning: Had this been a viable baby, the presence of infection would have been viewed as an indisputable sign of the need for imminent delivery. Even with full term, otherwise uncomplicated labors, when a women has ruptured membranes, and develops a fever and pain, the diagnosis of chorioamnionitis is made, and urgent delivery via section is performed if a vaginal delivery is not imminent. This is done for the health of both baby AND the mother.



This baby was an inevitable loss. At 17 weeks, with both a dilated cervix and ruptured membranes, there was absolutely no hope of saving this baby. There is absolutely no medical justification for not delivering her by whatever means were necessary. Ireland's overall maternal mortality rate is really rather irrelevant in the unnecessary death of this woman.

Mary - posted on 11/16/2012

3,348

31

123

As an L&D nurse who worked in a Catholic hospital (in the US), I find this absolutely inexcusable. In this woman's scenario, where her cervix is dilated and the amniotic sac is ruptured pre-viability, the only medically prudent choice is to facilitate delivery. Over the course of my career, I've seen more than a few women in a similar situation. There was never any prolonged discussion about treatment, nor any need to consult the hospital's ethics committee. In each and every case, labor is augmented to minimize the chances of complications that could endanger the life of the mother.



In fact, in this situation, it would not even be considered a "termination"; at best, it would be classified as an augmentation of the labor that was already in progress. In my humble opinion, this hospital, and the doctors in charge of her care, are guilty of manslaughter. I only stop short of calling it murder because I know that they did not intend to kill her, but their medically indefensible decisions are the direct cause of her death.

Mary - posted on 11/25/2012

3,348

31

123

Not to beat a dead horse, but yes, Kathy, from a medical perspective, something can still be "alive" and be rotting or decaying. The fetus had a heartbeat; that does not mean that it was not dying or riddled with infection. The pregnancy as a whole - the entire contents of her uterus - fetus, membranes, placenta - these were the source of the infection that killed this woman. It sounds harsh to refer to a wanted 17 week-old baby as rotting, I know, but that does not erase the veracity of that statement. Gangrenous flesh is rotten - and the life-saving treatment for this is removal of the source - be it a limb or just a pocket of flesh.

Lady Heather - posted on 11/20/2012

2,448

17

91

Yes, I'm thinking the evidence overwhelmingly pointed to something rotting. I gave birth to a healthy and very small baby girl who was attached to a half rotten placenta. I guess I'm lucky it didn't go any further than that, but I think that proves to me at least that heartbeat does not necessarily equal fresh as a daisy. Ergo...I think you need to listen to Mary since she actually knows this stuff.



I don't give a flying flip about their maternal care. One has to wonder how many women have been injured obtaining illegal abortions. Methinks that wouldn't show up in the charts.

29 Comments

View replies by

Kari - posted on 12/24/2012

47

0

12

From a medical perspective? But she's armed with a dictionary! ;) Never mind medical FACTS...

And yeah, what about necrotizing fasciitis? The skin ROTS in that case.

Jemma - posted on 12/20/2012

65

0

4

I beg you to consider that the catholic church holds considerable influence in Ireland and if you performed an abortion without permission you could get your medical licence taken from you or be arrested.

Momma - posted on 11/24/2012

197

0

5

Absolutely terrible. I am very much pro-life (as most here know) but in now way do I believe a fetus should take presidence over the mothers life.



I feel very sad for her husband. What a terrible way to lose your wife. He already had to come to terms with losing their child but to watch his wife die, too. No, that is unethical and uncalled for!



~Meme

Kathy - posted on 11/23/2012

0

0

3

Jen - no worries that you posted the wrong link.



I think (as I tend to get a little enmeshed in arguing a pro-life POV) that I might not have been clear earlier:



I think the women should have been given an abortion. It was clear the fetus was not going to live, and it might have helped save the mothers life.



I think the Irish government needs to get very clear on when it is and is not appropriate to perform an abortion (i.e. mother's life is in danger) and do a better job of relaying that to the medical community.



I am a little upset by other things around this situation - but that does not let the guilty parties off the hook.

[deleted account]

Sorry -0 looks like I posted the wrong link.



What my issue is that in the link you posted, pro-choice-ers are being accused of using this women as a sort of poster girl for why abortion should be legal and how awful that was of us. The RCC has done the same thing with an 11 year old from Mexico that was forbidden from getting one after a rape. So it's basically the pot & kettle.



And I apologize. Sometimes I lose track of what I'm arguing about (damn ECT! :) )

Kathy - posted on 11/23/2012

0

0

3

"Just to add, this young girl had her baby and many pro-some-life people are raising her up as a martyr of their own.



http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/07…"



I am lost. What is the relevance of this link? The link discusses some young girls giving birth. It has nothing to do with a 31 year old dentist who died of a miscarriage at 17 weeks due to septicemia.

[deleted account]

Exuse me, but to suggest that we are using this woman as 'martyr' for the "pro-abortion" folks is asinine. The RCC had a crappy history when it comes to women and pregnancy.. This is not just an atheist speaking because I didn't even know about this lady until after my very Christian mother sent it to me with some very harsh words about the RCC.



I posted it here because I am told over and over that a full ban on abortion would never have any impact on women who present with a ectopic pregnancy. I'ts not just Ireland, El Salvador also has a 100% ban even if the mother's life in danger or if it's an ectopic. They have doctors who must continue to run ultrasounds to see if the heartbeat is still going. No matter what happens, they can do NOTHING until it stops.



And I'm sorry (honestly sorry) that the RCC feels they are being attacked but their track record sucks. I mean we're talking about an institution that excommunicated a 9 year old girl who was raped by her stepfather and got pregnant from it. Both her mother and doctors felt she could not carry this pregnancy to term without causing serious medical problems. The RCC excommunicated her, her mother and her physician but guess what? The stepfather was not. He can have priests coming in and out from his jail cell till he dies. That is not right.



I have zero respect for the RCC and make no bones about it. I mean let's go to differnt bit for a sec. Mother Theresa is about to canonized but for what? Now stop beforeyou freak on me. I have done my own research on the woman. She raised millions with her travels around the world and yet never opened a single hospital. She stated that money (when you could get her to talk about donations period) was used to build CONVENTS & MONASTARIES! Her Home for the Dying is notorious for not offering pain medication to the dying and refused to allow them to see their families in their last days. This is easily verified but it's just one more thing the RCC does that makes zero sense.



Now I'mnot knocking any single person's right to believe whatever they wish or to even find abortion a horrible atrocity. I'll debate the point if it comes up but in general I don't care.



Howver when people die because someone forced their religion on them, I get snarky and a bit annoyed.



And on a personal note. I was hospitalized earlier this year for some mental illness issues. I was in for just over a month. A priest came to my room one Sunday and offered to give me communion. I VERY politely declined saying I was an atheist. He didn't even say, "have a nice day." He just walked right out.



ETA: this was not directed at any single poster, just a random rant.

Kathy - posted on 11/23/2012

0

0

3

"Kathy, the presence of a heartbeat does not mean the fetus wasn't "rotting""



Of course it does. Rot is a process of decomposition that happens when something is dead. Bodies of living organisms begin to decompose shortly after death. Dead=no heartbeat.



rotting: present participle of rot (Verb)

Verb:

Decompose by the action of bacteria and fungi; decay.

Cause to decay.

Kathy - posted on 11/23/2012

0

0

3

One more…I like this from the Newstatesman:



http://www.newstatesman.com/lifestyle/20...



"...This was no case of an elective abortion. Savita was not trying to get rid of an unwanted pregnancy. She was miscarrying and crying out in pain. The responsibilities of the medical staff seem plain: to facilitate the ending of her medical emergency as quickly and safely as possible. That the foetus could not have survived the procedure cannot be relevant in circumstances where it is already doomed. To expedite the ending of the pregnancy in such circumstances cannot properly be called "abortion" at all. This looks, on the face of it, like a case of medical negligence that has little to do with the abortion debate as such.



It is, for one thing, difficult to square the treatment of Savita Halappanavar with the guidelines contained in Ireland's Guide to Professional Conduct and Ethics for Registered Medical Practitioners (pdf), which provide that:



Rare complications can arise where therapeutic intervention (including termination of a pregnancy) is required at a stage when, due to extreme immaturity of the baby, there may be little or no hope of the baby surviving. In these exceptional circumstances, it may be necessary to intervene to terminate the pregnancy to protect the life of the mother.

Not surprisingly, pro-life voices are already making these points, besides calling for caution and demanding that the case not be used as a political football. Several have taken to Twitter to stress that, however strong their own opposition to abortion as a rule, they would have made an exception in a case such as this where the mother's life was in danger. One told me that he'd "like to think that anyone of any persuasion would be sickened to their stomach."



Nevertheless, the reported facts suggest that Ireland's abortion law, and its Catholic culture, were the context within which these horrific events unfolded. As recently as September, an "international symposium" meeting in Dublin declared that "direct abortion is never medically necessary to save the life of a woman", though it added, confusingly, that "legitimate medical treatment" that resulted in pregnancy termination didn't count as such. The statement claimed that "misinformation abounds in public debate" around this issue. But if it is misinformation, Savita's death suggests that it isn't just the public that is misinformed. Her doctors, too, appear to be labouring under the same delusion.



This is obviously a law that requires urgent clarification. On that, I hope that campaigners on both sides of the abortion debate would agree. Even if this does turn out to be a case of medical negligence, even if (as seems likely) the law as it stands would have allowed doctors to intervene and so save Savita's life, they seem to have have believed differently. And this is what mattered. It is particularly shameful that Irish governments have failed to legislate in the twenty years since the Irish Supreme Court ruled that abortion was legal where the mother's life is in danger.



It would be both simplistic and not particularly helpful to turn Savita Halappanavar into a pro-choice martyr."

Kathy - posted on 11/23/2012

0

0

3

Lady heather…I find it very odd you do not care about the overall maternity death rate.



It is a tragedy that this women lost her life (and that it might have been avoided) but I would still prefer to take my chances being pregnant in Ireland than almost anywhere else in the world.



Is a loss of life only relevant when it relate to abortion?



I said earlier that given the info I have, it is possible to hospital made the wrong call.



Turning a person into a martyr for the abortion cause, though, is…icky.



You want to argue abortion - fine, I doubt I will agree, but big whoop. Don't do it on the case of one tragedy.



India has a maternal mortality rate of 200/100 000; Ireland: 6/100 000.



I know India is yelling over this incident, but I think it needs to attend to its own issues, first.



I am not Irish. I am Canadian. I would not go over to Ireland pregnant or get pregnant in Ireland if I did not agree with how they handled maternity care. I am not blaming Savita for this…but there is some personal responsibility in this situation.

Tracey - posted on 11/22/2012

1,094

2

58

Only trying to offer reassurance that there is an alternative and safer option than having a back street abortion which is what you were suggesting.

A flight from Ireland to England is £30 and as a member of the European Union an Irish woman should be able to have an abortion free of charge on the NHS.

The minimum wage in Ireland is about £7 per hour so would cost your poor teenager half a day's wages, the equivalent of 2 DVDs and less than Xbox game - both of which teenagers seem to find the money for whenever there is a new release.

Lady Heather - posted on 11/21/2012

2,448

17

91

Tracey - Do you know them all personally or something?



Land sakes, there is a big controversy in Canada over the inability to access abortion in PEI and you know, it's really not that far removed and the journey is a lot cheaper. How on earth is a teenager with no means and a non-supportive family supposed to head to England and pay for an abortion? Give me a break.

Tracey - posted on 11/21/2012

1,094

2

58

Lady Heather - Irish women who want abortions come to England / Wales and have legal abortions at private clinics.

Kathy - posted on 11/18/2012

0

0

3

"These are trained medical professionals who know bloody well you shouldn't leave rotting flesh inside a person."



I am not defending the hospital (I would really need to read more before coming to a conclusion on what happened) but the flesh was not rotting inside her. The fetus had a heartbeat, was alive…ergo not rotting flesh.



I would also like to point out that Ireland has an excellent maternal mortality rate. Take a look at this chart:

http://www.indexmundi.com/g/r.aspx?c=ei&...



Once again, it does not mean they did not drop the ball in this instance, but overall Ireland has a great rating.

Sylvia - posted on 11/17/2012

1,315

8

34

It's absolutely appalling. Such a horrible, horrible waste. I agree, if this isn't criminally negligent homicide I don't know what the hell would qualify. "Malpractice" doesn't cover it.



This kind of thing is exactly why I think anti-abortion groups have no right to call themselves "pro-life": if they were really pro-life, they'd have to THINK ABOUT WHAT THAT MEANS, which in this case would have meant saving the life that could be saved (the mother's) rather than obsessing about the one that couldn't (her child's).

America3437 - posted on 11/15/2012

1,052

12

87

I had a miscarriage in a catholic hospital and it was horriable. I was sent home bleeding non stop for three days and wasn't seen until I refused to leave unless something was done! I was scared of bleeding to death and all they cared about were their own beliefs! My heart aches for women!

[deleted account]

Exactly. This is what I worry about. This is why I bring up ectopic pregnancies whenever I talk about abortion. This woman didn't go into her pregnancy and then chnage her mind. Her baby was dying already. There was nothing to save and yet she ws still refused the D&C. People tell me in this discussion that ectopic pregnancies have no place in this argument but clearly in a nation where abortion is 100% illegal it matters!

Lady Heather - posted on 11/15/2012

2,448

17

91

When I first read this I swear, I have never felt more rage on behalf of another person. There is no reason for this to have happened. These are trained medical professionals who know bloody well you shouldn't leave rotting flesh inside a person. I can't believe they had her on freaking antibiotics for the infection but still neglected to remove the source of it. This is what criminalizing abortion does folks. And you know what lifers? It could happen to you too. It's not just people who don't want a baby having abortions. That's the scary thing. Your beliefs won't save you in this case.

Join Circle of Moms

Sign up for Circle of Moms and be a part of this community! Membership is just one click away.

Join Circle of Moms