That was the excuse for letting a woman die in Ireland. Savita Halappanavar, a 17 week pregnant woman who began to miscarry, went to University Hospital in Galway expecting medical treatment. Instead, since her fetus continued to have a heartbeat, she spent days with her cervix fully open, inviting infection, until the fetal heartbeat stopped and they removed it. By that point, it was too late and Halappanavar died of septicaemia after 2.5 days in agony so bad she couldn’t even walk.
Halappanavar is neither Irish nor Catholic, but “this is a Catholic country” was excuse enough to allow her to suffer horribly and die. “This is a Catholic country” was enough of a reason to allow her to spend days with something that is as risky as an open head wound. “This is a Catholic country” irrationally defines a “heartbeat” as meaning a damn thing other than fuel can be brought to cells, attributing to the heart some sort of mystical, magical force that determines whether something is alive and human or not, or perhaps just transferring the humanity from the incubator surrounding it (commonly called a “woman”) so that it matters and she doesn’t.
It’s situations like this that make me want to vomit whenever people like the ever-nauseating Timmy Dolan burble on about “humility” and try and tell us that the problem isn’t the Catholic message, it’s the way it’s presented.
The Catholic message, no matter what words you use to describe it, is “women are sinful, only innocent fetuses matter.” It’s the message that they have been preaching long before evangelicals thought it was cool. It’s the message that has over-ridden, time and time again, any competing message of compassion, care, or dignity.
“This is a Catholic country.” Those words should send a shiver of fear through anyone who doesn’t fit their standard of humanity. Apparently they let women who are having difficult miscarriages die in Catholic countries. I have no doubt the Irish bishops are currently looking for the proper way to articulate that message.