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What If Religious Fanaticism Killed Someone You Love?

Society & Culture  (tags: abortion, abuse, activists, culture, dishonesty, education, ethics, family, freedoms, government, law, media, politics, religion, rights, safety, society, women, world )

- 2009 days ago -
The family of a woman who died after being denied an abortion are fighting so others don't suffer the same loss.

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Kit B (276)
Sunday November 25, 2012, 9:01 am
(photo credit - alternet)

Last week, a young Indian man in Ireland went public about the death of his wife, Savita Halappanavar. A week later, her name, picture, and tragic story are known by millions. Now the husband, Praveen, has launched a fight to ensure that no woman ever again is refused a lifesaving abortion. Her parents have requested that the Indian government bring diplomatic pressure to bear. Their goal is to clarify and, if need be, to amend Irish abortion law: “We lost our only daughter due to this illogical law…. If that law is changed, we will think that our daughter was sacrificed for a good cause.” “Maybe Savita was born to change the laws here,” says Praveen. It is, perhaps, the only possible sense in her otherwise senseless death.

Savita was 31 when she died after being denied an abortion during a second trimester miscarriage. As a dentist, she not only felt the infection in her body, she understood it. According to her husband she asked repeatedly for the medical staff at her Irish hospital to end the failed pregnancy that was poisoning her blood and would ultimately cause her organs to fail. She was told, “This is a Catholic country.” She had wanted a baby. Then she merely wanted to have less pain and to live. Instead, thanks to what Catholic ethicists call their “culture of life” she is dead.

Praveen carried Savita’s body home to India then returned to Ireland where he works as an engineer for Boston Scientific, a manufacturer of medical devices. Is he haunted, I wonder, by the irony as well as the loss? An engineer is devoted rigorously to evidence, to questions of what works and what doesn’t, to understanding the real world effects of decisions. His ability to apply the scientific method carried him and Savita out of India to a place where ideology rather than science ultimately dictated medical practice. Had they been in Mumbai or Delhi or Bangalore when her fetus started dying, she probably would have lived. Instead, Indians woke up to headlines proclaiming, “Ireland Murders Pregnant Indian Dentist,” and the evening news in their home state of Karnataka ran a banner that said, “Faith over Life.”

For years now, the Catholic Bishops have been trying to draw a moral equivalence between embryos and persons, as if self-replicating human DNA were what made us precious. If ever there was a story that exposes the vast chasm of difference between a fetus and a person, it is this one. Savita and her fetus lay in the same hospital dying. The fetus simply slipped out of existence, as embryonic humans do; in fact, as most embryonic humans do. Savita died like a woman dies. She felt pain, and pleaded for it to be relieved. She knew she existed, was afraid, and expressed her fear. She argued against the authorities who refused to terminate her failing pregnancy: “I am neither Irish nor Catholic.” And when she died, she tore asunder a whole community of people into whose lives she had woven the fabric of her own. Her mother struggled to comprehend: “In an attempt to save a 4-month-old fetus they killed my 30-year-old daughter.” The Hindu community in Galway cancelled the Diwali festival she had been helping to organize, and where she had performedclassical dance with Praveen in past years. And when Praveen when public with their story, thousands of people took to the streets in a cry of anguish that rang across Ireland and India.

This is what is real: A woman feels pain. A woman feels fear. A woman knows she exists. A woman wants to live. She will fight and plead even when she is being poisoned to death by toxins in her blood or in our culture. A woman is a daughter, a friend, an organizer, a lover. Sometimes she is a dentist. Sometimes a man loves her enough to carry her broken body halfway around the globe.

Praveen returned from India alone and empty handed and went to the press, determined that his wife’s death have meaning. In the weeks after Savita died, Catholic Bishops in the U.S. doubled down on their commitment to the very same priorities that killed her. Although Catholic directives allow some room for abortion to save the mother’s life, the most orthodox believers balk at this exception. They are deadly serious. In 2009, a Phoenix nun approved an abortion to save the life of a 27-year-old mother of four. When the local bishop found out, the nun wasexcommunicated. Numerous conservative Catholics subsequently opined that the young mother should have been allowed to die.

The primary mechanism for the bishops imposing their will in the U.S. is through mergers between Catholic and secular health care systems. Any merger or partnership gives the bishops an opportunity to insert their “ethical” directives into the contract negotiations process. The result? More and more, American families have no way of knowing whether they are being offered state-of-the art medical best practices or only those approved by some church.

The time has come to question a system that funnels public money into medical institutions where the overriding principle is not science but religious ideology. Today, religious charities keep themselves afloat by administering public funds and providing services to the general public. In 2010 only three percent of the funds that flowed through Catholic Charities in the U.S. actually derived from the offering plate. And yet that small percent buys an enormous amount of influence. In a modern medical center it can give the bishops a decisive vote in our most private decisions. The bishops may get to decide whether an old woman exits this world with peace and grace or is forced to wait until God overrides every modern life support system. They may get to decide whether a young mother with a malformed fetus is saddled with a lifetime of heartache or has the opportunity to grieve and start again. They may get to decide whether another young mother lives or dies. That they have such power is wrong. A friend of the Halappanavars, orthopedic surgeon C. R. Prasad, visited Savita in the hospital while she was alive. Now he is speaking out: “This should never happen to another woman. Religion and medicine should never mix.” As one of the many women blessed by an abortion that let me start again, I could not agree more.

Savita Halappanavar’s father described his daughter as a “bold and intelligent woman with big dreams.” Bold, intelligent women with big dreams sometimes change the world. Savita’s chance to do that in her life is gone. Now that chance is held by those who loved her and by the many in Ireland and abroad who continue to wrestle with painful issues raised by her life and death. “Maybe Savita was born to change the laws here,” said Praveen. But maybe she was born to help change laws that kill and bind women everywhere.

By Valerie Tarico | alternet |

Kit B (276)
Sunday November 25, 2012, 9:14 am

This article is using the attention focused on one tragedy in Ireland. I suggest you look at your own community, this happens all too often in many countries. I know of five women right here in the small north Texas town, that is my home. This is religion combined with political aspirations to emotionally move voters to support a religious/political agenda. Those five women had no choice, their life depended on late term abortions of a non-living fetus that was killing the mother. Or I should say that did kill the mother, because our hospital has a "no abortion" policy. When personal religious issues cross the line to cause death for those who could otherwise be alive and caring for their living child (or children) something is very wrong with laws or rules that opt to allow a woman to die.

A few days ago, I submitted an article that gave the history of religious institutions and their once firm policy of recognizing the life of the mother, not the fetus. That is until the dialogue became political, and no longer was about religion or belief systems but those who will do and say what is needed to interject and make a private decision into a pubic policy.

pam w (139)
Sunday November 25, 2012, 11:14 am
Religious fanaticism is one of the MANY reasons religion ruins so many things....

I realize you were thinking of the women's reproductive freedom issue, Kit....but, step back and think of how many people around the world were killed last year by Muslim extremists..

How many women were stoned, beheaded, burned to death, denied basic reproductive health and yes, denied the freedom to choose an abortion........all in the name of their deity!

Meanwhile, we're told we must "respect" religions....

Yvonne White (229)
Sunday November 25, 2012, 3:51 pm
"What If Religious Fanaticism Killed Someone You Love? " If that happened to me those fanatics had better pray their god was real, because they would be meeting it personally in the here-after!:( I am NOT a just or compassionate avenger when my family & friends are involved - I tend to Over Compensate - like Israel!;) So all religions would be at risk!;)

Sheryl G (360)
Sunday November 25, 2012, 8:07 pm
This is a very sad story and shouldn't have happened anywhere. Why is it that someone else's religion determines the fate of someone who, as she said, was neither Catholic nor Irish. We have women in this Country as Kit has said, who are dying and really do not need to. As more States are making it harder to obtain a safe abortion more women will continue to die. If Romney/Ryan had gotten in, things would of gone worse again still. Most of these rulings are made by men, and if they were the one's pregnant, suffering, and dying abortion would be both legal and safe.

Past Member (0)
Sunday November 25, 2012, 9:00 pm
This must never happen again

Jerry B (128)
Sunday November 25, 2012, 9:47 pm
Noted this story is unbelievable poor woman..thanks Kit!

Gloria picchetti (304)
Monday November 26, 2012, 4:44 am
Without women's rights we have nothing.

pam w (139)
Monday November 26, 2012, 6:58 am
Without freedom of and FROM religion....we're in trouble, too!

Barbara Tomlinson (431)
Monday November 26, 2012, 12:43 pm
Even "good" priests and nuns, should LEAVE THE CHURCH - NOW!
Even "good" people who consider themselves "Progressive" and hope-against-hope for "reform" of the Catholic Church and people who don't follow Church strictures in their real lives - i.e., they use Birth Control which the Church forbids -
Even they, or ESPECIALLY these "Progressive" people, would do the MOST PROGRESSIVE THING, by LEAVING THE CHURCH, NOW!
There is NO HOPE for the Catholic Church. NO HOPE WHATSOEVER. They will NEVER reform. In fact, they are BECOMING MORE CONSERVATIVE/REACTIONARY/MEDIEVAL/ANTI-MODERN: they are in fact PURGING all their "Progressive" priests and nuns {i.e., Father Roy Bourgeois}, and closing ranks around the WORST elements of the Church. Vatican II "reforms" are all being undone. It simply WON'T get better!

The Roman Catholic Church is in NO WAY "DEMOCRATIC"; it does NOT, and NEVER HAS and NEVER, EVER WILL, listen to its "ordinary" members, including priests and nuns;
And, of course, BELOVED BY FASCISTIC DICTATORS EVERYWHERE for that very reason!
All LGBT people, and their families and allies, should LEAVE THE CHURCH, NOW.
ALL WOMEN should instantly LEAVE - there is NOTHING for Women in that Patriarchal Playpen!
ALL PEOPLE WITH A SHRED OF INTELLIGENCE should leave. Or a SHRED OF HUMANITY AND COMPASSION. Or the least smidgeon of disgust at ORGANIZED PEDOPHILIA, or compassion for its victims...

Nobody REALLY BELIEVES any more, that ONLY thru some Pedophile Priest, can you be "saved" and go to Heaven! The SUPERSTITIOUS FEAR that the Catholic Hierarchy relied on, the Carrot of "Heaven" and the Stick of "Hellfire", is LAUGHED AT, NOW....
So, there is REALLY NO EXCUSE to stay with the Catholic Church, NONE WHATSOEVER...
Tell your Catholic friends...
the unwarranted Political Power of the Catholic Church will take a severe blow! Altho it will take MORE to UNSEAT the Catholic Church's vast and entrenched Political Power altogether - but, it will BE A GOOD START.

Barbara Tomlinson (431)
Monday November 26, 2012, 1:31 pm
"50 Reasons to Boycott the Catholic Church" /Alternet.

This is the URL for my News Item. Please also go there and Note and READ!

Lois Jordan (63)
Monday November 26, 2012, 1:42 pm
Yeah, I tend to agree with Terrie & Yvonne...if that had been my daughter or granddaughter, my response wouldn't have been "humanitarian." Sorry if I sound like a broken record on this until my dying breath, but this is a medical decision that is strictly between a doctor and patient. There should never be anything religious or political involved in this decision...and it's nobody's business. Just wondering if "private" abortions are happening in Ireland....where women "of means" can pay a doctor to provide an abortion.....

Lois Jordan (63)
Monday November 26, 2012, 1:44 pm
*Sorry I'm unable to send a star to BMutiny since I sent one in the past week....great comment!

Barbara Tomlinson (431)
Monday November 26, 2012, 1:47 pm
Reason #49:
They canonized Mother Teresa for doing little more than offering a squalid place for people to die. Outside observers who visited her "Home for the Dying" reported that medical care was substandard and dangerous, limited to aspirin and unsterilized needles rinsed in tap water, administered by untrained volunteers. The millions of dollars collected by Mother Teresa and her order, enough to build many advanced clinics and hospitals, remain unaccounted for.

So, even the "sainted" and wildly popular Mother Teresa {her MYTH!}, is no longer a "good" reason for "good" people to COMPROMISE ALL THEIR VALUES, BY STICKING WITH THE EVIL, EVIL, TOTALLY VILE IN EVERY RESPECT, LYING HYPOCRITICAL ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH!


Please, "good" people, RECOGNIZE THAT YOU ARE DOING MAJOR MORAL EVIL by supporting the Roman Catholic Church
in ANY way, shape or form!
People can still get together to pray, celebrate, socialize, etc., OUTSIDE of the Church...
Better in a rented storefront, someone's living room, out in Nature...
[You KNOW, that the "MILLIONS OF DOLLARS" collected by Mother Teresa, went NOT TO MEDICINE OR TO SERVE THE DYING - but, rather, to PROP UP THE POLITICAL POWER OF THE CHURCH... BRIBERY... "Persuasion"... You KNOW that is TRUE...]

Barbara Tomlinson (431)
Monday November 26, 2012, 1:56 pm
Lois: Irish women have been going in DROVES to ENGLAND to have Abortions.

There has of course as you well know, NEVER been a time in all Human History, when abortions were NOT available to those who could afford it! The Upper Classes NEVER consider the same "rules" applicable!
Even the staunchest religious abortion opponents, when it was a matter of their OWN daughters, wives or mistresses - or the Concubines of PRIESTS! - had secret abortions inside or outside the country... a "little vacation" for the woman involved, as far as anybody else knew...
When abortion was illegal in the U.S., wealthy couples used to go to pre-Castro CUBA, and also have fun gambling and taking in sex shows on the side...

Joseph Gregory Paquette (1)
Monday November 26, 2012, 3:53 pm
Noted, signed, & twitter entry made

Nimue Michelle Pendragon Gaze (339)
Monday November 26, 2012, 5:33 pm
It's 2012, no pregnant woman should ever have to die. What happened to that woman is plain murder.

Anne K (139)
Monday November 26, 2012, 6:32 pm
After reading the article I am beyond frustrated (to put it mildly) and feel so much empathy for the poor woman and her family. There are so many points made that I could comment on.

"This is what is real: A woman feels pain. A woman feels fear. A woman knows she exists. A woman wants to live. She will fight and plead even when she is being poisoned to death by toxins in her blood or in our culture. A woman is a daughter, a friend, an organizer, a lover. Sometimes she is a dentist. Sometimes a man loves her enough to carry her broken body halfway around the globe."

The fetus died. Why make the woman suffer and die, too? Do Christians really believe that Jesus would condone this?

"In 2009, a Phoenix nun approved an abortion to save the life of a 27-year-old mother of four. When the local bishop found out, the nun was excommunicated. Numerous conservative Catholics subsequently opined that the young mother should have been allowed to die."

Was the local bishop and the conservative Catholic community prepared to care for the woman's 4 children? How would the children feel, losing their mother? Either practice compassion or don't practice a religion that restricts your ability to have empathy for others and think clearly.

Tom Edgar (56)
Monday November 26, 2012, 6:50 pm
That supported tirade against the Catholic Church by BMutiny. Whilst not of itself without some truthful passages it is still singularly centred on one of the many Christian Sects. I am fairly safe in saying that there is NO democracy in any of the Judeo/Islamic/Christian faiths. ( Can't recall one of the thousands of other religions any different) Ultimately all believe in the absolute power of an autocratic figure, who, to my way of thinking, does not, and never has, existed. If I am mistaken please furnish the verifiable, replicable, evidence.

Rose Becke (141)
Monday November 26, 2012, 9:22 pm
This woman died in VAIN IT MUST STOP

Barbara Tomlinson (431)
Wednesday November 28, 2012, 2:09 am
Tom: " I am fairly safe in saying that there is NO democracy in any of the Judeo/Islamic/Christian faiths."
No, you are NOT safe in so saying.

"Ultimately all believe in the absolute power of an autocratic figure"
To answer that one first: Many forms and sects of faiths, while believing in a "god" {who doesn't exist}, regard this figure as we regard Nature, as just "there" - and not necessarily as a ruler giving orders.
Many sects of religions and "people of faith" regard "god" the way many Ancient Greeks did - the gods created Earth and Humans and then sat back and didn't interfere...
Some religions and religious people regard "god" as an autocratic ruler, and some don't. There are vast differences. And, there are TONS of books you can read on that subject.

Next point: As far as Christian religious sects and denominations go, many of the Protestant ones ARE democratic or quasi-democratic in their church governance structures - some more than others. Congregationalists and Presbyterians started out with the church membership {or at least the males!} voting and making their own rules, from the ground up rather than the top down. Some Anabaptist sects also. Even the early Puritan groups in America, could choose or veto their own ministers. Quakers and Unitarians today are quite democratic in their church structures - as well as not believing in an "autocratic" god! There are probably others, I'm not an expert on ALL Protestant sects. Of course there are and were dictatorial sects in Protestantism also.
There are also "liberal" Jews, Muslims, Hindus, etc. etc. who DON'T believe in an autocratic "god" but one who is just "there".
And as far as how these "more liberal" religious groups govern themselves, I have no idea. I suppose that living in the "democratic" United States, their congregations have "democratic" input as to how money collected is spent, etc. I am talking about the "liberal" element; which DOES exist in ALL faiths, in both individuals and groups, all over the world.

CATHOLICS, on the other hand, no matter HOW "liberal" an individual Catholic might be, or even a priest or a nun or a group of Catholics in a Church be "liberal" - they have NO INPUT WHATSOEVER, NO VOTE, NO CONTROL AT ALL over the Bishops, WHO DECIDE EVERYTHING. Catholics are treated by their church, as CHILDREN WHO CAN'T DECIDE *ANYTHING* FOR THEMSELVES. This is a TOTAL ANACHRONISM, out-of-step with ALL principles we profess. Catholics seem to be DELUDING THEMSELVES, that they can "fix" the Church somehow. They CAN'T. And that is why they should leave, NOW.

"If I am mistaken please furnish the verifiable, replicable, evidence."
I take it you mean the evidence for god's existence. Of course there's none and I don't believe god exists.
However, there is TONS of evidence, if you READ HISTORY, of some Protestant sects HAVING DEMOCRATIC SELF-GOVERNANCE. {See the Mayflower Compact for one.} {Congregationalists and Presbyterians show this history in their NAMES.}
I'm sure research would show, congregations of OTHER faiths, especially in this country, that are run on democratic or partly run on democratic principles. {Judeo/Islam/Christian and others you don't mention by name.}
There is also TONS AND TONS of evidence, that the idea of "god" as an autocratic Iron/Bronze Age ruler, king, or tribal chief, is not the ONLY idea of "god". You could go on reading the different definitions for the rest of your life, for sure!
The Catholic Church is UNIQUELY UN-DEMOCRATIC AND EVIL especially for this day & age.
I stand by every single thing I said above.

Morgan McDowell (4)
Thursday November 29, 2012, 10:55 am

May the woman who was denied the abortion and her miscarriage rest in peace. :(
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