Report confirms that Savita Halappanavar didn’t need to die

Savita HalappanavarAn investigation confirms that Savita Halappanavar, the Irish woman who died last year after being denied an abortion after an incomplete miscarriage, lost her life because her doctors prioritized her unviable fetus over her own health.

The report states:

“The investigating team considers there was an apparent overemphasis on the need not to intervene until the foetal heart stopped, together with an underemphasis on the need to focus an appropriate attention on monitoring for and managing the risk of infection and sepsis in the mother.”

Halappanavar, who was carrying her first and very wanted pregnancy, went to hospital when she started miscarrying. Over three days, her life-threatening infection worsened, and she and her husband begged for an abortion to end the already unviable pregnancy. The doctors refused, because the fetus still had a heartbeat and “Ireland is a Catholic country.”

According to the report, her medical team did actually discuss the option of performing an abortion at one point. Savita’s husband said he’s not satisfied with the report since it doesn’t address why they decided not to do it. And I can’t imagine there will ever be an adequate answer to that question.

As Jodi at RH Reality Check notes, “This is the inevitable outcome of abortion bans. Women die.”

St. Paul, MN

Maya Dusenbery is executive director in charge of editorial at Feministing. She is the author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick (HarperOne, March 2018). She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard magazine. Her work has appeared in publications like,, Bitch Magazine, as well as the anthology The Feminist Utopia Project. Before become a full-time journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she received her B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. After living in Brooklyn, Oakland, and Atlanta, she is currently based in the Twin Cities.

Maya Dusenbery is an executive director of Feministing and author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm on sexism in medicine.

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