Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Pro-Life View Of God As Killer

Last month the Irish Times reported

Two investigations are under way into the death of a woman who was 17 weeks pregnant, at University Hospital Galway last month.

Savita Halappanavar (31), a dentist, presented with back pain at the hospital on October 21st, was found to be miscarrying, and died of septicaemia a week later.

Her husband, Praveen Halappanavar (34), an engineer at Boston Scientific in Galway, says she asked several times over a three-day period that the pregnancy be terminated. He says that, having been told she was miscarrying, and after one day in severe pain, Ms Halappanavar asked for a medical termination.

This was refused, he says, because the foetal heartbeat was still present and they were told, “this is a Catholic country”.

She spent a further 2½ days “in agony” until the foetal heartbeat stopped.

The dead foetus was removed and Savita was taken to the high dependency unit and then the intensive care unit, where she died of septicaemia on the 28th.

An autopsy carried out by Dr Grace Callagy two days later found she died of septicaemia “documented ante-mortem” and E.coli ESBL.

Soon after this story was reported, Salon's Mary Elizabeth Williams wrote

This is what happens when a nation drags its concept of God into medical decisions. This is what happens when doctors are cruelly thwarted in doing the job of saving people. And that’s why if you ignore the health and safety of women and you call yourself “pro-life” you are nothing but a sad, sick joke. As Irish Parliament member Clare Daly ruefully pointed out this week, “An unviable fetus … was given priority over the woman’s life.” 

Abortion is illegal in the Republic of Ireland but, responding to the death of Halappanavar, legislation is being prepared to codify a 20-year Supreme Court ruling that a woman has the right to terminate a pregnancy if her life is endangered.  The nation's Roman Catholic Church, however, is not given to doubts, or the humility of uncertainty.  Its bishops immediately accused the government of encouraging the "intentional killing of the unborn."  Without referring to the horrid death which precipitated the furor in the Republic, Cardinal Sean Brady delivered his Christmas message and ratcheted up the controversy when

He urged people to tell politicians that no government was entitled to remove that right from an innocent person.

The Archbishop of Armagh said the country was now approaching what would "prove to be a defining moment regarding Ireland's attitude to respect and care for human life".

He continued: "Public representatives will be asked to decide whether a caring and compassionate society is defined by providing the best possible care and protection to a woman struggling to cope with an unwanted pregnancy or by the deliberate destruction of another human life.

"I hope that everyone who believes that the right to life is fundamental will make their voice heard in a reasonable, but forthright, way to their representatives."

Cardinal Brady said politicians needed to be reminded "that the right to life is conferred on human beings, not by the powerful ones of this world, but by the Creator."

A minimum of ten percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage, obviously the vast majority not by choice of the woman.   Apparently, then- according to the Archbishop's logic- once the Creator confers life on human beings, He snuffs it out in at least ten percent, and possibly as much as 25 percent, of cases.  

The irony in the message delivered by the leading prelate of the Republic of Ireland is not limited to condoning the death of a 31-year-old woman in the name of "life."   Cardinal Brady's lack of compassion is clear enough, and not uncommon in fanatics.   But the greater irony may be, in assuming abortion ends a life created by God, that the Archbishop implies that the same Creator ends the life of a baby when He so chooses.

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