One of the only constant things in the world is the fact the world and its people are changing. Technologies are becoming increasingly complex, societal structure, laws, and concerns continue to, undeniably, change. These shifts and transformations happen daily, but when it comes to religion, why are its dogmas and rules so stationary? Or at least, why the reluctance to change rules that only work to negatively affect the safety and health of people?
It’s not difficult to find examples of how the hesitation to change certain rules of a religion can endanger the lives of people. One such case is with Savita Halappanavar, a woman in predominantly Catholic Ireland who was denied abortion, causing death just last year. Her widower, Praveen Halappanavar, said that his wife had been hospitalized after doctors realized that the pains she had experienced were because she was about to miscarry. The couple were told that her cervix had already opened and that there was no chance of survival for the baby. It was then recommended that Mrs. Halappanavar remain in hospital for the few hours until her ordeal was over.
What was supposed to be hours, turned into days of excrutiating physical and emotional pain for Savita, claims her husband. In court Mr. Halappanavar stated that, as his wife’s pain increased and health deteriorated, the couple had asked for and were rejected an abortion twice. Apparently after the second request, the hospital consultant Dr. Katherine Astbury told Praveen, “Unfortunately I cannot. This is a Catholic country, We are bound by the law. We cannot terminate the foetus when it’s still alive.”
Admitted on October 21, Savita was rejected the request of an abortion of a fetus that was already, unfortunately, considered helpless, on Tuesday October 23, and then going through a traumatizing miscariage the next day. The following Sunday, Savita Halappanavar lost her life due to, what may have been, septicaemia, leaving her husband and many people wondering why too little was done too late.
The Catholic church holds the belief that life is created at the moment of conception, and therefore, the moment that the sperm and egg combine to form a diploid organism, it is precious and considered of equal value to any other life. Whether people agree with this belief is a whole other issue, but as a devout Catholic myself, I hold this as true. I myself see religion as an important aspect of the human experience. But being Catholic or religious does not keep me from criticizing the situation. First of all, there was the heartbreaking fact the fetus was not going to survive anyways. Second, there is no such law in Ireland that prevents abortion when the life of the mother is endangered. And lastly, if all life is precious and equal, why wasn’t Savita Halappanavar’s life saved?
After having already lost a child, such hesitation and reluctance caused unnecessary pain for the family of Mrs. Halappanavar. It’s heartbreaking to know that much more could have been done, and it’s shameful that the health care professionals involved couldn’t make the obvious and most sensible decision. I believe that we can all agree that it would have been better to preserve one life, than none at all. If changes to the rules and certain beliefs of Catholicism, or any religion, is necessary in order to preserve more lives, so be it.