It’s not about life

Nov 30, 2012 | Opinions

Nowadays, I usually describe Ireland like this: it’s a beautiful country, a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.

Never have I been more right, after reading the facts surrounding the death of Savita Halappanavar in an Irish hospital in Galway.

Long story short: she was an Indian woman, pregnant at 17 weeks, who went to the hospital as she was experiencing a miscarriage. According to her husband, the doctors told them that the fetus would not survive, but they could not perform an abortion until the fetal heartbeat stopped because Ireland is a Catholic country.

Savita spent three days in agony. When the doctors finally performed the abortion, she had developed sepsis and later died.

I have no reason to doubt her husband’s words.

Pro-lifers have been saying a lot of things about this case, about how an abortion would not have saved her life. To that I say: you weren’t there. Savita asked for an abortion when the doctors told her that her child wouldn’t live, and they refused because of law and religion and ambiguity that meant they could face life in prison for performing a medical procedure. They could have done it and spared her three days of pain. If they had done it, she might not have developed sepsis and died.

But we’ll never know, will we?

All we have are the facts at hand. She asked for the doctors to treat her, to remove a fetus that was certain to die. They refused because of religion and law. She died.

And I am so, so angry.

It’s hard for me to communicate with pro-lifers. I don’t think I can be friends with them. To me, being pro-life means that you would happily watch me suffer and die for the sake of a fetus that will die with me; that you don’t value my life enough, you don’t value me enough, to want me to live if it came down to a choice between me and that fetus. At worst, you believe me to be a monster who would kill a baby given the chance.

I can’t be friends with someone like that.

That’s not the only reason, though. There is one other, rather big one: because pro-lifers are hypocrites. Always.

Allow me to elaborate.

It’s all about preventing the murder of innocent babies, or so they say. It’s about the babies, because life is sacred, and all that.

Bullshit. It’s not. It’s about punishing women for having sex.

No, seriously. Stop deluding yourselves. It’s not about the innocent little babies. It’s about punishing women, “slutty” women, for having sex that you deem to be inappropriate.

So how do I know this? Simple, really.

Do pro-lifers advocate for legislation that would force a parent to give up a kidney, say, if their child needed it? No.

Do pro-lifers advocate for legislation that would make birth-control and the education on how to use it free to everyone over the age of puberty, as this is THE top method of reducing abortions? No.

Do pro-lifers advocate for legislation that would stop any woman from travelling to England to get an abortion? No.

Do pro-lifers advocate for legislation that would criminalize women who get an abortion abroad? No.

Do pro-lifers advocate for legislation that would make fathers legally liable for every child they produce, so that their children will be guaranteed food and shelter, even if they’re not married to the mother? No.

Do pro-lifers advocate for legislation that would investigate every miscarriage, to find out if the fetus was lost because of natural causes or because of the woman’s negligence, such as if she drank alcohol or smoked while pregnant? No.

Finally, do pro-lifers advocate for legislation that would harshly punish the Catholic Church for its systematic abuse of children and subsequent systematic cover-up of said abuse, and harshly regulate it so that such abuse and cover-up can never happen again? No.

In summary, this is what I can determine about the Irish pro-life position, that innocent babies are being murdered and should be protected:

  • They won’t prosecute a woman for committing what they view as murder in another country.
  • They don’t care about stopping women from going abroad to commit this murder.
  • They don’t care if this murder happens outside Ireland.
  • They don’t care if it’s manslaughter, not murder.
  • They don’t care about investigating whether it’s an accident or negligence.
  • They won’t force a woman to use her organs to support a child if that child has already been born.
  • They won’t get behind the one method that helps cut down on abortions if it means women can have sex freely.
  • Finally, they don’t care about the quality of life those babies have once they exit the womb, and they don’t care enough about abuse of those babies to leave and condemn the organization that has damaged the lives of thousands of children.

So this is my determination.

Pro-lifers are only pro-life when that life will punish a woman for having sex.

They don’t get to have it both ways. If a fetus is equivalent to a child, then its death should be taken as seriously as a child’s death. And if pro-lifers are going to mandate that the child’s life MUST be preserved using the body of one of its parents, then it should be true in ALL cases. So women need to be prosecuted when they come back from England, miscarriages need to be investigated for negligence, and both parents need to be forced to use their organs to support their offspring if required.

But they don’t want that, do they? They don’t want to put women in jail for murdering their babies in this manner, for example. I’d bet most of them – the men especially – would be horrified at the thought of being forced to give up a kidney, regardless of their own health or circumstances. And yet they’re happy to force a woman to use her body in a far more invasive way, for a greater period of time, in order to support the life of a child. They’re happy to see a woman forced to give birth to a child she doesn’t want and possibly can’t care for at the cost of her health, her future, and sometimes her life – and they don’t give two shits about the circumstances that cause a woman to need an abortion. After all, that’s how Savita died.

It’s the same the world over. Make abortion illegal, sure – but that will not make women any less desperate to get one, if they feel they have no other choice. And frequently, they don’t have any other choice. All those other choices have usually been taken away from them already. And if they can’t have an abortion legally? Well, they die trying to not make themselves not pregnant any more. In their thousands.

The pattern of rhetoric and behavior is obvious to me. Pro-lifers only care about the murder of innocent little babies when it suits them, and it usually only suits them when the idea of women having sex whenever they want offends their sensibilities. But they don’t believe it all the time, and they certainly don’t believe it’s equivalent to actual murder – why else are they not protesting in the streets over 4,000 abortions a year due to Irish women going to England?¬†It’s not about life, and it never was. It’s about sex – and how women shouldn’t be allowed to have sex without consequences. ‘She should have kept her legs shut.’ Where have I heard that before…?

Oh yes, the old Catholic guilt and shame. The same Catholic Church that lost all credibility with anything to do with children when it covered up decades of abuse, in Ireland and elsewhere, of children in its care. The same reason that doctors denied Savita’s request for an abortion of a dying fetus when they told her that ‘this is a Catholic country’.

I am so, so angry.

This I swear – my children will not be raised as Christians. They will never be baptized. They will not be touched by the hand of a priest. And I will teach them this: that the homeland I left in order to build a better life for them would let me die for the sake of a twisted, poisonous morality; a morality trumpeted by men who will never have to face the circumstances that killed me, aided and abetted by a government of cowards and conmen.