November 26, 2012 — "It is unforgivable and unethical that those we most trust to take care of us, our doctors and our government -- and for some, our church -- repeatedly and even fatally fail women," author Ethel Rohan writes in a New York Times opinion piece, responding to the death of a woman who was denied an abortion in Ireland.
Savita Halappanavar -- a 31-year-old dentist who was 17 weeks pregnant -- was miscarrying and in severe pain when she was admitted to a hospital in Dublin in late October, but doctors refused to terminate the pregnancy for three days because a fetal heartbeat was detectable. Halappanavar died on Oct. 28 of septicemia.
"Ireland's discriminatory laws and the doctor's inaction allowed a shockingly long window for Dr. Halappanavar to become infected," Rohan writes, adding that it is "inconceivable ... how Irish doctors and the Irish government can reconcile their Catholic faith with the inhumane and unjust treatment of women, especially when their lives are at stake."
She continues, "The Catholic faith and misplaced piousness were tragically used against Dr. Halappanavar." Rohan concludes, "Ireland needs to repeal its inexcusable laws, ensuring that Dr. Halappanavar's death is the last of its kind in the country" (Rohan, New York Times, 11/21).
Debra Ness, publisher & president, National Partnership
Andrea Friedman, associate editor & director of reproductive health programs, National Partnership
Melissa Safford, associate editor & policy advocate for reproductive health, National Partnership
Perry Sacks, assistant editor & health program associate, National Partnership
Cindy Romero, assistant editor & communications assistant, National Partnership
Justyn Ware, editor
Amanda Wolfe, editor-in-chief
Heather Drost, Hanna Jaquith, Marcelle Maginnis, Ashley Marchand and Michelle Stuckey, staff writers
Tucker Ball, director of new media, National Partnership