Savita Halappanavar can now be added to the long list of women who have been killed in the name of religion. The appalling circumstances surrounding her death in an Irish hospital (your report, 15 November) are a shocking demonstration of the brutal consequences of prioritising religious considerations above granting the lives of women the same priority, respect and protection as the lives of men.
Should the pregnant women of Ireland be forced to flee their country to safeguard their own lives against the potentially fatal consequences of religious interference into their health? Unless and until the Catholic influence on abortion law in Ireland is lifted, the answer is clearly “yes”. I can only hope her tragic death has not been in vain, and that it will help to put Ireland on a path towards a more enlightened, secular society where women’s rights, and by extension their lives, are fully protected.
The tragic death of Savita Halappanavar because she was allegedly refused an abortion in Ireland compels Angela Innes to write: “We all must keep up pressure on the authorities there seriously to rethink Ireland’s policy on terminations.” (Letters, 16 November).
However, we do not know whether Mrs Halappanavar died because of Irish law. What we do know is that, if there was a need to save her life during pregnancy, then the hospital would be free to terminate the pregnancy. Nothing in Irish law prevents the hospital from doing that.
At this stage we do not know whether Mrs Halappanavar would have died no matter what was done. This is what the investigation into her death should ascertain. Rather than put pressure on authorities to rethink laws, we should wait for the facts to emerge and then act appropriately.
The tragic, and easily avoidable, death of Savita Halappanavar is proof that even in supposedly advanced Western democracies, religious dogma kills. It also demonstrates the need for atheists like me to keep attacking the source of that dogma.
(Dr) Stephen Moreton
Joyce McMillan (Perspective, 16 November) seems to view abortion as some kind of right. May one enquire about the rights of the unborn – are they somehow not human?
Bo’ness, West Lothian
Doctors have a proud record of standing up to malign authority like those army medics who disobeyed orders and gave penicillin to dying babies in occupied Germany.
So it was shocking to hear that doctors watched as a woman who was clearly miscarrying died in agony when they had it in their power to save her.
And this was not in some primitive country with a bloodthirsty theocracy on hand to wreak violence on anyone who dared prevent the will of God taking its course.
This monstrous event took place in Ireland where the vile behaviour of its priests should have long since undermined their power to keep medical ethics in the Dark Ages.
(Dr) John Cameron