Tragedies don’t move them

Ivonne Rovira
Ivonne Rovira

The tale of a woman who died in Ireland in 2012 led to that country repealing its draconian abortion law. Don’t expect that to happen here, though, because tragedies don’t move rightwing extremists.

Dr. Savita Halappanavar, a 31-year-old dentist in Galway, began having a miscarriage at 17 weeks. Ireland had a constitutional amendment, the Eighth Amendment, passed in 1983, which banned abortions. Irish doctors admitted that Halappanavar’s fetus would never survive, but that, as long as the fetus still had a heartbeat, they could do nothing. By the time she got her abortion, days later, the infection had advanced to the point that the septicemia killed her.

Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, a professor emeritus of obstetrics and gynecology at St. George’s University of London who led the investigation into the Halappanavar case, told The Irish Times: “One of the things which was holding their hands back while they were looking after her was this Eighth Amendment issue because the baby’s heartbeat was there.”

Even so, anti-abortion forces said that Halappanavar’s case should not be a reason to repeal the Eighth Amendment. They blamed the infection, not the law.

Sound familiar? It should. Consider what the right-wing ammosexuals have blamed for mass shootings: unarmed teachers, gun-free zones (our own Congressman Tom Massie!), ladders, porn and lack of fathers, no praying in schools, bossy women, not enough religiosity, Democrats, marijuana, antifa, trans people, mental health, the cures for mental health, CRT, abortion (couldn’t make this up), video games, lack of data, and doors, doors, doors, doors, doors! Anything but guns!

We have at least one mass shooting per day, and yet they are unmoved. They’ll blame anything but guns. So be sure of this:  no matter how many women die, no matter how women are permanently injured, no matter how many 10-year-old girls or rape victims are forced to give birth, they won’t give an inch.

We’ve already got stories of women getting terrible care due to the new laws – including a woman who had to carry her dead fetus for two extra weeks (which is what killed Halappanavar, remember). These tragedies will soon become as common as mass shootings. But it’s up to us to push past them to protect our right to choose. It’s we who are the pro-life party now.

And to motivate us, here’s the rest of the story.

The Irish right wing blew off the “lame extremist” arguments. Mass protests began immediately in 2012 and continued. Halappanavar became the face of the pro-choice movement. Ireland legalized abortion in 2018, and, at the request of Halappanavar’s father, named it Savita’s Law.


Abortion: The story of suffering and death behind Ireland’s ban and subsequent legalization
Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade, the nation may find itself on a path similar to that trodden by the Irish people from 1983 to 2018.
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Ivonne Rovira

Ivonne is the research director for Save Our Schools Kentucky. She previously worked for The Miami Herald, the Miami News, and The Associated Press. (Read the rest on the Contributors page.)