Savita Halappanavar's medically unnecessary death
I looked around. A forest of IV poles...A nurse and another surgeon started to clean the floor. We were all bonded by this nameless woman whose life we were desperately trying to save...The urologist, a grizzled older man with whom I had nothing in common except a medical degree and this patient, rested his hand on my shoulder. It was a kind, fatherly gesture. The weight was comforting. “You done good.” He said. And then he added, “Those bastards.” I knew he was referring not just to the physician who did this procedure, but to everyone in society who had contributed to a disadvantaged woman finding herself in such a desperate situation.
"This is a Catholic country," was what Irish doctors told Savita Halappanavar after she learned she was miscarrying her pregnancy and asked for an abortion to avoid further complications. She spent three days in agonizing pain, eventually shaking, vomiting and passing out. She again asked for an abortion and was refused, because the fetus still had a heartbeat. Then she died.
...does the Bible say when a human being's life begins? Genesis 2:7 is clearest. Human life begins when you start breathing, biblical writers thought...Exodus 21:22-25 describes a case where a pregnant woman jumps into a fight between her husband and another man and suffers injuries that cause her to miscarry. Injuries to the woman prompt the normal penalties for harming another human being: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a life for a life. Killing the woman is murder, a capital crime.The miscarriage is treated differently, however -- as property loss, not murder. The assailant must pay a fine to the husband. The law of a life for a life does not apply. The fetus is important, but it's not human life in the same way the pregnant woman is.
No More "Pro-Life" and "Pro-Choice"
But I never, ever heard things like fighting poverty, working toward a comprehensive social safety net, advocating for comprehensive sex education, or working to make birth control more widely-used or effective put forward as strategies for reducing the number of abortions that took place. In contrast, every pro-lifer I knew was politically conservative and in opposition to things like welfare, mandated paid maternity leave, subsidized daycare, and even things like Head Start...And then I saw the New York Times article reporting on global numbers of abortion...What these numbers told me was that the legality of abortion was not the primary factor effecting the rate of abortions...That day I moved away from trying to stop people from having abortions and toward addressing the reasons women have abortions. Things like unintended pregnancies and poverty, for instance.
A woman is more than her abortion. An abortion is more than a right. A person is more than their gender. In the grey area, we don't always have perfect words, but we see the whole person before an issue.