Paul Coleman
In late October, a 31-year old female dentist named Savita Halappanavar died in Ireland after being refused an abortion. And although there was no causal link between the refused abortion and her death at the time, and there remains none now, pro-abortion proponents are seizing on her death as sufficient reason to legalize abortions in Ireland.

In fact, these ideologically-driven arguments for abortion now fly in the face of members of the medical community who say an abortion could have actually killed Savita days before her natural death occurred.

Yes, an abortion, had it been carried out, may have cost Savita her life sooner.

Savita was hospitalized on Sunday, Oct. 21, with severe abdominal pains. She was 17 weeks pregnant at the time. The doctors at University Hospital Galway determined she was having a miscarriage.

For the next three days, Savita’s husband pleaded with hospital officials to perform an abortion to relieve his wife’s pain and spare her life, but doctors would not perform an abortion because the child was alive, and thus killing the child was against the law.

But even without the law, the doctors weren’t sure an abortion would better Savita’s condition. Since her death, other specialists have elaborated on why the abortion may have actually killed her faster.

To be sure, an exception should always exist when a mother’s life is genuinely at risk. That’s not the point. The point is whether an abortion truly would have saved this mother’s life as many abortion advocates have been arguing.

It turns out that’s not clear at all, and that leads to an even bigger point: if anyone tries to use this tragedy to push for abortion on demand for any reason whatsoever, that person is the worst form of opportunist.

According to Dr. Hema Divakar, president-elect of the Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies of India, “Delay or refusal to terminate the pregnancy does not in itself seem to be the cause of death. Even if the law permitted it, it is not as if her life would have been saved because of termination.”

Divakar explained that Savita was suffering from an infection that doctors approach by stabilizing the mother’s health before anything else is done. She said that even if the infection were advanced and required “aggressive treatment,” the mother’s condition would have to first be stabilized to minimize further complications.

In Divakar’s view, doctors did precisely what they were supposed to do—with or without the abortion laws in place.

Paul Coleman

Paul Coleman serves as legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom. He is a solicitor of the Senior Courts of England and Wales and obtained his Bachelor of Laws from Newcastle University and his LL.M. from the University of Northumbria. He is a regularly featured speaker on religious liberty issues throughout the U.K. and Europe.