I nearly always find questions of degree helpful in breaking down reductive arguments, and Dr. Gunter does it very well in this article on the woman who died last month in Ireland when doctors refused her an abortion.
While a full analysis of the tragic case of Savita Halappanavar’s death from sepsis at 17 weeks in her pregnancy is not possible without access to her medical records, there is a key piece of information provided by her husband that supports his claim that a termination was not allowed or was delayed because of the law. It is the fact that the medical staff were checking fetal heart tones. Not just once a day as is sometimes done during a previable induction so the mother knows which day her baby died, but several times a day.
Fetal heart tones are not checked with any medical purpose in mind until viability (around 23-24 weeks). The presence of fetal heart tones was irrelevant because survival of a baby at 17 weeks with ruptured membranes and/or advanced cervical dilation is impossible. Ms. Halappanavar was not 22 weeks pregnant where there…
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