In a stunning decision made worse by the length of time it took to be handed down, the Supreme Court of El Salvador denied a young woman “permission” on Wednesday for an abortion needed to save her life.
This is the inevitable outcome of abortion bans. Women die.
Here in Central America, women are denied life-saving treatment every day. Women with life-threatening illnesses are denied treatment because to do so might harm their pregnancy—just the same explanation that Savita’s husband received from their doctors in Galway. [This article is published in both English and Spanish.]
Haunted by the harrowing details of Savita’s death we’re left to wonder how many more women in Ireland may have lost their lives as a result of being denied a life-saving abortion.
What does it say about a society when it leaves a woman to die in the name of “life?” Where is the respect for women’s lives? This irony pervades the politics surrounding women’s health in my own country, the United States.
Hopefully, the tragedy of Savita will, at least, finally spur the Irish government to issue clearer guidelines that the life of the pregnant woman must be privileged over that of her fetus. But if the thousands demonstrating reflect changes already underway in Irish society—including a growing dissatisfaction with the Catholic Church’s influence—perhaps some day Savita Halappanavar will be remembered as the woman whose death was a turning point in the long struggle for the legalization of abortion in Ireland.
Recent press about the death of Savita Halappanavar, admitted to a hospital in Ireland with medical complications in a 17 week pregnancy, is a grim reminder about the impact of abortion restrictions on women’s lives.
Maternal deaths caused by unsafe abortion are both devastating for the families involved and detrimental to their larger community. Guaranteeing access to safe, legal abortion— and removing barriers to access in countries where abortion is legal—is essential to saving women’s lives and reversing these tragic statistics.
It falls to professional media interviewers not just to assume Mitt Romney supports exceptions, because before Akin-gate he had not previously espoused any exceptions, but rather to ask him about when he changed his position, why he has not spoken out before on exceptions, and what he would do if Congress passed a “human life amendment” with no exceptions.
As women across the country celebrate the first day of coverage without co-pays of a wide range of preventive care services, including contraception without a co-pay, health and rights groups are fighting in the courts to maintain access to safe abortion care at the state level.