Meanwhile, in Ireland…

…A woman dies after being denied an abortion:

A young woman died of septicaemia in Ireland after Catholic doctors refused to terminate her miscarriage because abortion was against the country’s law and religious beliefs.

Savita Halappanavar, 31, died last month in University Hospital Galway after three days of agony, the Irish Times reported on Wednesday.

Doctors told her she was losing her 17-week pregnancy, as her cervix had dilated and the amniotic sac had broken, and that the foetus would not survive.

Her husband told the newspaper she begged for birth to be induced but was told this was not possible because the foetal heartbeat was still present “and this is a Catholic country”.

I mention this because it reminds me of the debates we’ve been having in this country over the future of conservatism. Specifically, here is what the Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens has to say about abortion (and other touchy topics) in his column from this week, “Earth to GOP: Get a Grip”:

Also, please tone down the abortion extremism. Supporting so-called partial-birth abortions, as too many liberals do, is abortion extremism. But so is opposing abortion in cases of rape and incest, to say nothing of the life of the mother. Democrats did better with a president who wanted abortion to be “safe, legal and rare”; Republicans would have done better by adopting outgoing Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels’s call for a “truce” on social issues.

I agree. What do you think? 

  1. Joseph Eagar

    If continuing a pregnancy can only lead to both mother and child dying, there is nothing wrong with saving the mother’s life.  God doesn’t want women committing suicide.  I had a relative who was in a similar situation, and had an “abortion.”  Can you even call it an abortion, if there is no chance the fetus can survive? 

    There is a limit to how far you can stretch pro-life rhetoric.

  2. Valiuth

    The law is made by people, it will invariably reflect our values. If the people are conflicted and confused on an issue so will be our laws. I think with respect to abortion the goal of the pro life movement, which I have a strong sympathy for, should not be to try to outlaw all uses of abortion they find immoral. Rather they should focus of codifying an end to the idea of unrestricted abortion. I think just codifying a stringently enforced policy of a fetus deserves human rights at time point X will do wonders to shaping peoples ideas and behavior, even if X is a moment after conception. 

  3. Astonishing

    They won’t grant you a truce while they’re still winning.

    (But it was very polite of you to ask.)

    It’s foolish to think about a truce until they ask for one.

    Keep fighting or you’re sure to lose–more than has already been lost.

  4. Misthiocracy

    FYI: Abortion is LEGAL IN IRELAND when done to save the life of the mother.

    This incident is about medical malpractice, not abortion law.

  5. Mountain Mike

    May I suggest an alternate “truce”?  How about military funding say, or taxes, or what about drug laws?  Why is always “social” issues that must be hidden?  I am not ashamed of my absolute opposition to abortion except in narrowly defined “life” of the mother cases.  And when I say narrowly defined I don’t mean emotional well being.

  6. Bemused Canuck

    You have to wonder why the reporting isn’t as diligent when it comes to the complications and death of women that arises from successful abortions…

    (or carcinogenic birth control pills…)

  7. Stuart Creque

    My understanding of the facts of this case is:

    1) The doctors waited for the fetus to die.

    2) The doctors extracted the dead fetus (or had the mother expel it, giving birth to a stillborn baby).

    3) The mother died a week later from septicemia.

    In none of the news coverage of this case do I see an indication that the mother had a septic infection before she expelled the stillborn baby.  It’s entirely possible that her infection and subsequent death were a result of the procedure to remove the dead fetus, rather than a complication resulting from the delay in waiting for it to die.

    In other words, it is possible that the “abortion” killed her.

  8. Chris Deleon

    An exception for the life of the mother– yes.  You have to choose between losing one or possibly both of two human lives in this situation.

    But for rape?  Really?  You want to allow the killing of an innocent human being for the (very horrible and wrong) acts of another?

    If we truly believe the fetus is a human being with rights, this is the most consistent position to take.

  9. Jenn B.
    Joseph Eagar:   Can you even call it an abortion, if there is no chance the fetus can survive? 

    I’m 99% sure that you’re right. Catholic teaching is that if doctors have exhausted all means of saving the child’s life and the mother’s life is at risk, then the loss of the child is not considered an abortion.

  10. StevenK85

    I normally like Stephens, but that piece was all assertion, no argument.

    It may be true when it comes to opinion polling that support for partial-birth abortion and opposition to a rape and incest exemption are equally extreme (I think both are at roughly 20%).  However, given our current legal regime, they are not politically equivalent.  Partial-birth abortion could be legal with just simple majorities in legislatures.  Outlawing abortion in cases or rape and incest would require overturning Roe v. Wade, and quite possibly another Supreme Court case that would have to go further allowing such laws.  In addition, of course, there would have to be new legislation.  Thus, the extreme pro-life side is not in the practical position to impose their view on the other 80% that the extreme pro-choice side is.

  11. Edward Smith

    Someone in Ireland got too bloody-minded.

    Such people bring discredit on everyone who believes in the Sanctity of Life.

    Let me know who that moron is.

    I’m on the next Aer Lingus flight to throttle them with their own intestinal tract.

  12. Thom Williams

    No truce is necessary. What is necessary is for social conservatives to make their case competently and persuasively. Holding up Akin and Mourdock as reasons to call a “truce” is like calling a truce on using the color blue because a color blind person was asked to point it out and  couldn’t.

    Teach social conservative candidates how to talk about these issues with warmth and compassion, avoid saying idiotic things, and highlight the double standard the media and culture like to employ on these issues. That is the answer, not a truce.

  13. Douglas
    Douglas: 

    Grrr… we need a delete button 

  14. Chris Deleon

    “Truce” = “surrender” in this case.

    Think about it.  If you truly believe human beings are being killed by this barbaric practice, would you make a truce just to win an election with candidates most of whom won’t even lift a finger to address this issue?  Important issues take a high priority, and we don’t bargain them away because someone thinks we’ll win more elections that way.

  15. Nick Stuart

    Because of the hardness of people’s hearts, for the time being, we are going to have to accept the legality of abortion for rape and incest (in the case of life of the mother, all possible skill should be used to save both lives, but in the tragic case where it is not possible to save both, then it is consequence of a fallen world which we have to accept) while we continue to argue the morality of the value of every life.

    Pro-life politicians (of which 99.9% are Republicans) are going to have to learn how to give coherent answers to the questions they must know they are going to be asked, and learn how to take the fight to the pro-choicers.

    Pro-life is a bearing wall in the foundation of the Republican Party, remove it and the structure collapses.

    Republicans may think they can’t win with pro-lifers, they will find they certainly can’t win without them.

  16. Vance Richards

    “the amniotic sac had broken”

    If her water broke it is not abortion, it’s birth. This is a case of bad doctors, not bad policy.

  17. Misthiocracy
    Edward Smith: Someone in Ireland got too God damned bloody-minded.

    Such people bring discredit on everyone who believes in the Sanctity of Life.

    Let me know who that moron is.

    I’m on the next Aer Lingus flight to throttle them with their own intestinal tract. 

    I’m not convinced, yet, according to the few facts I have about the case.  It may be possible this woman would have died even if the baby was delivered healthy, regardless of any measures taken by the doctors. (Although, since the fetus was only at 17-weeks when the miscarriage began, I realize that argument’s a little moot.)

    It also may be possible the woman would have died even if labour had been induced, as she requested. The article doesn’t say how badly her body had been damaged prior to her request for doctors to induce labour.

    Aside: When I wrote that the case was about medical malpractice, I did not mean to imply that malpractice had definitely taken place.

  18. Wylee Coyote
    Emily Esfahani Smith:

    Democrats did better with a president who wanted abortion to be “safe, legal and rare”

    Because he was lying.  It’s a lot easier to get away with lying when you don’t have a hostile press.

  19. dittoheadadt

    No “truce” is necessary.  As a political matter, only whack-jobs oppose abortion “in cases of rape and incest, to say nothing of the life of the mother.”  (Furthermore, ever since Roe v. Wade and consistently so, a substantial majority of Americans FAVOR some measure of restriction on abortion.  Why the hell would we want a ”truce” with those numbers on our side?!)

    Yet it’s those whack-jobs whom the media trot out as representative of the entire GOP and conservatism.  I’ll say it ad nauseam: until the Right and the GOP confront the fact that we need to take our message directly to the American people and bypass the MSM, and take steps actually to do that, our message will always be sold to the American people as extremism.  Sold by the MSM, not by us.

  20. Matede

    No truce. Your example is an extreme case and I’d like to get more facts about it. What about the woman who died in Chicago after a botched abortion performed at Planned Parenthood? Or the fact that NYC school are giving the morning after pill to girls WITHOUT telling their parents, most schools can’t give kids an asprin without telling the parents. We can’t give up this fight to save the unborn, we can’t let them brow beat us into submission on this. Throw it back at them, ask them why the house democrats voted AGAINST a sex-selection abortion ban. Point out President Obama’s EXTREME stance on abortion that he voted against a bill that would require medical care for a baby who survives an abortion. I’m sure most pro abortion people would reject THAT crazy position. Why are we terrified of this position? We have people who are living, breathing examples of our position that we should let tell their stories. We need to humanize our cause and stop letting the other side clinicalize with words like reproductive rights.