Friday, November 16, 2012

Ireland's Abortion Laws: Culprit is Lack of Medical Consensus, Not Religion

As a lawyer, I don't want to take a stand for nor against legalised abortion – but it is indeed a tragedy that a young Indian woman called Savita lost her life and died of septicaemia after three days, mainly because the doctors denied her request to have an abortion, knowing very well that she was having a miscarriage. 

By citing the Irish abortion law and expressing their decision to not grant her request, the Irish doctors, with full knowledge of the implications of such a decision on her life, had purposely failed in  their first and foremost duty as medical professionals - to save lives.

Why didn't the Irish doctors consider inducing birth early? That would have been permissible as per Irish law. If nothing else, in all probability, it would have been medically possible for the doctors to have saved Savita without flouting the Irish abortion law. To me, this case is more about medical protocols and consensus than a ridiculously hyped religious approach to the issue of abortion. Yes, that may be there but this problem could have been solved if some kind of a medical consensus had been formulated on time.  It marks an institutional failure that should never have happened in a country like Ireland.

Interestingly, in India, the discussion is ridiculously pinned on the religious angle. We are constantly debating on the right and wrong of religions dictating choices on abortion. 

How predictable! We in India need a religious angle to everything to make the discussion more 'fervent and popular' with the laypersons as well as the so called social intellectuals.  It also becomes an opportunity to lament all that is wrong because of religion. While the fact is that all that is wrong is in our own interpretation and practice of it.

Savita's case may become a textbook study for human rights students or it may signal a new chapter in international law.  What the world needs is a more humane approach by medical practitioners and a keenness to drive home ethical accountability and responsibility with more transparency.

This applies not only to Ireland but to all countries where such systemic failures in the healthcare sector costs precious lives.

What are your views on the abortion laws in your country esp if applied to life-threatening situations such as Savita's case? Do let me know your thoughts.  


Mridula said...

Whichever way we look at it it is sad.

SG said...

In 1973, US Supreme Court made abortion legal in its decision on Roe v Wade. However, a normal female cannot go to a doctor or hospital and say “I don’t want this baby and therefore, I want abortion done on me”. The doctor/hospital will refuse.

Generally, Republicans are pro life and Democrats are pro choice. But majority of Republicans also favor abortion in the case of rape, incest, and life endangerments. If Savita was living in USA, she would have come under the “life endangerment” category.

May she rest in peace.