Dr Jennifer Gunter (above), a world-renowned obstetrician/gynecologist and author of the book,The Preemie Primer, writes:

As Ms. [Savita] Halappanavar, died of an infection, one that would have been brewing for several days if not longer, the fact that a termination was delayed for any reason is malpractice. Infection must always be suspected whenever, preterm labor, premature rupture of the membranes, or advanced premature cervical dilation occurs (one of the scenarios that would have brought Ms. Halappanavar to the hospital).

As there is no medically acceptable scenario at 17 weeks where a woman ismiscarrying AND is denied a termination, there can only be three plausible explanations for Ms. Hapappanavar’s “medical care” :

1) Irish law does indeed treat pregnant women as second class citizens and denies them appropriate medical care. The medical team was following the law to avoid criminal prosecution.

2) Irish law does not deny women the care they need; however, a zealous individual doctor or hospital administrator interpreted Catholic doctrine in such a way that a pregnant woman’s medical care was somehow irrelevant and superceded by heart tones of a 17 weeks fetus that could never be viable.

3) Irish law allows abortions for women when medically necessary, but the doctors involved were negligent in that they could not diagnose infection when it was so obviously present, did not know the treatment, or were not competent enough to carry out the treatment.

Since posting, Dr Gent has added: I [have] learned that Ms. Halappanavar’s widower reported that she was leaking amniotic fluid and was fully dilated when first evaluated. There is no medically defensible position for doing anything other than optimal pain control and hastening delivery by the safest means possible.

Read More: Did Irish Catholic Law Or Malpractice Kill Savita Halappanavar? (Dr Jen Gunter)


Dr Jen Gunter?

Via Jennie Parker


111 thoughts on “An OB/GYN Writes

  1. KeithFahey’s Moustache

    Well said but can I suggest one change?
    2) Irish law does not deny women the care they need; however, a zealous individual doctor or hospital administrator interpreted RELIGIOUS doctrine in such a way that a pregnant woman’s medical care was somehow irrelevant and superceded by heart tones of a 17 weeks fetus that could never be viable.

    1. Bobs Fettucine

      You Taliban Youth Defence members work long hours trolling the interwebz, I’ll give you that.

      PS – Santa doesn’t exist either

    2. Liz C.

      WRONG! The medical staff followed CATHOLIC doctrine, not a generic religious doctrine as you want to put it. It has been well documented that one of Ms. Halappanavar’s numerous requests was met with “This is a Catholic country.” by way of a refusal to make an attempt to save her life.

    1. Bobs Fettucine

      Getting in a quick Novena and praying for guidance before another day filled with delicious hatred and intolerance, just like Jesus would’ve wanted.

  2. Cark

    This situation is so infuriating.

    Next time I see those neanderthals handing out leaflets outside the GPO I fully intend on letting them know they are a scurge on Irish society.

        1. pedeyw

          I noticed the beardy guy with the acoustic guitar and pictures of aborted fetuses was conspicuously absent from his Liffey st. spot last night.

      1. ABM

        A medical professional publicly discussing the specifics of an indivual case is not something I’d be a fan of. One wonders what the real motive for chatting to the media is.

          1. Dr D

            Not defending ABM here, but, the ob/gyn said “As there is no medically acceptable scenario at 17 weeks where a woman ismiscarrying AND is denied a termination,”

            That’s simply not true. If the woman was hypotensive and not fit for anaesthetic, if there was a significant comorbidity or perhaps bleeding diathesis…then there would be, to my mind, a medically acceptable case to optimise the patients status prior to termination.

            Obviously in the absence of these factors, or others, she’s probably right tbh.

    1. Pigeon Street

      A serious question ABM; if your partner or wife was in the situation that Savita had been in and let’s say a world-renowned obstetrician/gynaecologist advised that there could be serious health implications to your partner/wife if her already dying baby wasn’t removed, would you insist that she take her chances just because of your religious beliefs?

  3. sam

    Dead from political inaction from successive govts, making it someone else’s problem. The doctors in a legal vaccuum and the woman in the grave. Shame on each of the govts that have put this on the long finger over the past 20 years since the X case.

  4. ffintii

    I did the email thing yesterday to all my five TDs.

    Last line in my reply to Olivia Mitchell’s hot air reply to me:

    “As a woman you should be ashamed of yourself.”

    1. Nikkeboentje

      I sent the emails to the TDs in South Dublin too. I got a reply from Olivia Mitchell and I thought it was okay.

  5. Tickle

    I for one will be waiting on the full facts of what happened before making any internetz comments.

    My spider sense yoke is tingling!

      1. Tickle

        No offense but because I like to know facts about things before commenting (and quite frankly find it ludicrious the amount of “pitchforking” going on about all of this) I am somehow Youth Defense?

        It is not like she was found dead in a field and there could be a lot of conjecture about what happened.
        The poor lady died in hospital. I am assuming, rightly or wrongly, that it should be pretty easy for an investigation into this.

        For the record I am 100% behind termination where there is a need for it. Especially in cases where there is an “unfit for life” situation

        Feel free to read some of the personal stories here


        Website is a bit sh1t though.

        1. Bobs Fettucine

          How about we just allow complete freedom of choice for individuals and medical practitioners? Repeal the 8th amendment so there’s no chance of this ever happening again? How does that suit you?

          YDs sudden interest in the X Case reminds me of the suffragette movement – give women the vote, but, er, make them wait until they’re 30.

          Your sad old religion and it’s grip on society are waning fast.

          1. Bobs Fettucine

            Tickle – are you in favour of complate choice for individuals yes or no?

            If no, are your reasons based on religion?

          2. Bobs Fettucine

            PedeyW – there were a large number of YD on the Facebook group for last night’s rally saying ‘this march isn’t pro-choice, only about the x case’ – their fear is that public anger about this will lead to a repeal of amendment 8. By focussing attention on changing legislation specifically for medical reasons they hope to corral, and control the issue, through ill-defined legislation open to interpretation by catholic medical professionals.

            This is why I am suspicious of anyone calling for anything less than complete freedom of choice.

          3. Bobs Fettucine

            The only salient fact is that if abortion were freely available based on individual choice this woman who was denied one 3 times would not be dead.

          4. Navel

            You need to qualify clearly what you mean when you say “complete freedom of choice for individuals”.

            Should individuals have “complete freedom of choice” to rape your father?

        2. Bobs Fettucine

          Navel: obviously I’m referring to abortion.

          No response from the god botherers to my questions I see.

    1. IDB

      I was going to say something similar. Do we know yet if it was misdiagnosis? Was it one religious zealot? Miscommunication? Unavoidable medical tragedy? Misinterpretation of the law? Unacceptable delay?

      I’m not making excuses for anyone, but I legitimately want to know EXACTLY what caused this death, so all our attention can be focused on ensuring it never happens again.

        1. BLC

          Are you saying we should abandon our faith in a mysterious entity which claims to know the truth without evidence, and attaches offensive labels to anyone who disagrees?

        2. ABM

          Sure, like Catholicism caused you to miss your bus this morning. Catholicism, just like Judaism in 1930s Germany, is to blame for all the world’s ills…

          1. Frodo Baggins

            Bahahaha! Ah man, thank you!! Thank you!!
            The implication that catholics in this country are persecuted is so utterly laughable and a reprehensible point of view. The comparison with the jewish community in 30’s Germany is offensive beyond belief.
            You’ve really underpinned your lack of humanity here, ABM.
            Nobody is persecuting members of your religion (willing accomplices to vile crimes aside), the general followers of your religion are not being persecuted – Your religion has NO place in our government, NO place in our education, NO place in our provision of medical care – Your religion’s place is within the confines of your places of worship and your family homes. You are a disgrace, and this country has now hopefully been shamed into finally segregating your church from our political, medical, educational and international affairs.

          2. Bobs Fettucine

            Thanks for that. You can always rely on you people to completely undermine your own cause. What I find sad is you’re probably young enough to know better but you’ve been so repressed by the religion you profess to love you won’t be happy until everyone else is as miserable as you are.

          3. ABM

            Hello Frodo Baggins,! The Catholic Church and her followers are perfectly entitled to lobby and influence government as they see fit. It’s called democracy. If you don’t like that, perhaps an atheist Utopia like the Netherlands would be more to your taste? A place where teenage mothers are coerced into having “terminations” without their parents being informed. Or how about the land of the free – racist USA? A country where the majority of black babies are murdered before they breath their first breath.

            So, to rebutt your assertions: Catholicism HAS a place in our education system, HAS a place in the provision of some of the world’s best healthcare and HAS a place in government. People should not have to confine their religious convictions to their place of worship so as to placate a bunch of hard lefty loons like yourself. This is a free society. Please do us all a favour and emigrate: that, or feck off to China or some other socialist Utopia that you drool over at night time.

          4. Frodo Baggins

            @ABM – THe sound of the cogs of progress must keep you awake at night.
            Me? I sleep better at night knowing that eventually we’ll be out of the dark ages here.
            Your religion has no authority to dictate what our public schools, public hospitals and public life in general consist of. They may dictate this to it’s followers but not to people outside of the religion. It’s separation of church and state and it is inevitable. You’re a dying breed. A dinosaur.
            And your descriptions of other nations are laughable. Your avoidance of criticism of your stance as a victim of persecution is adorable though.
            If someone disagrees with you they should leave the country? Now that sounds like the 1930’s Germany I know.

          5. Frodo Baggins

            Apologies, I neglected to mention this –
            Catholicism has a place in our society, in our education, in our schools etc – My choice of words was perhaps vague- It does NOT have a position of authority in these institutions – It has the equal voice of its members. It’s decline is evident however, and it will die out.

          6. hello

            @ABM putting HAS in capitals and “not” in italics does not an argument make. If a society is free all individuals should be able to share the cornerstones of the society, such as education, politics and healthcare without the influence of any one group’s belief, be that catholic, muslim, hindu, etc. Your argument that you can do what you want as this is a free society rings pretty hollow if what you’re actually saying is “put up with us or feck of to China/USA/Netherlands”.

          7. ABM

            Last time I checked, 84% of the Irish people identify themselves as being Catholic. Should everyone (from Pastafarians to Jedi Warriors) have an equal say in this Utopian democracy that ye speak of?

      1. Frodo Baggins

        An interpretation of the law.
        Because no, the law is not clear in this regard.
        This is why the ECHR has ruled (two years ago!) that a clear and definite position is made law. They’re not ruling that we allow abortion, but that our legal stance must be clarified.
        We are one of the slowest countries in the EU for following EU directives, and ECHR rulings.

        1. Frodo Baggins

          I won’t partake in this today.
          There’s a simple solution and it’s inevitable. Legislation will change, it’s going to happen. We’ve shamed ourselves on the world stage yet again. IDB / ABM and your ilk are trapped 200 years in the past, your church has no place in our laws.

          1. IDB

            Am I Catholic yeah? Thanks for that.

            The reason I made the point was that if everyone argues based on the “Catholic ethics in medicine” argument and then it emerges that something else caused the death then everyone will have shot themselves in the foot and the Government will be able to lay the blame on somebody else, eg the HSE. I am for this legislation ASAP, so I want to avoid confusing the situation and allowing the Government a way to get themselves off the hook.
            Thanks for your bullshit assumption though.

          2. pedeyw

            ABM are you still on about that? You are aware of current events, yeah? And you have actually READ that piece from the Irish Times that you feel the need to continuously repost?

          3. Jess

            …said a bunch of sadly biased medics who twist the definition of ‘abortion’ to suit their pro-life agenda.

            Just shut up, ABM. You’ve already been proven wrong by Savita’s death, stop embarassing yourself.

  6. Fi

    Tickle, I’m with you on that, sounds more like malpractice than anything else but of course don’t know the full facts just yet!

  7. Advertising On Police Cars

    My wife worked at UCHG for 10 years and the place is riddled with incompetent and arrogant Drs, so, while there may be religious issues do not put the medical negligence facts to one side………. I have heard horror stories about UCHG that could be straight out of a Stephen King novel.

    1. ScaryLady

      +1 here. I’ve no doubt that the current situation regarding abortion legislation had some influence on the way this poor woman was treated, but going on my experience, I’d say that medical negligence is highly likely to be the main cause of this woman’s death.

      I’ve had personal experience of this in two of Dublin’s biggest maternity hospitals and I can attest that the way miscarrying women are treated is somewhere on the scale between negligent and barbaric. I carry permanent physical damage because of this to this day.

  8. KeithFahey’s Moustache

    Whether it is for Malpractice, religious reasons, or just plain stupidity, If I was Father Fintan Stack M.D Minister for health, I would be telling my driver to point the Jaguar in the direction of Galway this AM.

    I would make it my personal business to talk to the individuals involved and getting the facts in person. He is a doctor after all so there is no need to wait on experts he bloody is one, or at least claims to be.

    1. ffintii

      I rather imagine he might be doing that, as this issue has angered so many people, but then again, he’s a stroke politician……

  9. Sido

    Here’s Newz you can Use from David Quinn -http://www.independent.ie/opinion/analysis/david-quinn-media-rushes-to-judgment-but-we-dont-know-the-facts-3294515.html

    1. TomCo

      I pointed out that the article itself jumped to several conclusions despite being critical of other papers doing the same.

      Of course it didn’t pass moderation.

  10. Iwerzon

    RTE timeline on Mrs Halappanavar’s time in hospital showed she was given antibiotics quite early so infection must have been diagnosed yet nothing else was done. This is so wrong,

    1. osie

      Not so, it’s protocol to administer antibiotics in the case of the cervix being open for 24hrs to prevent infection

  11. Arbs

    Medical opinion will doubtless diverge on the factual matrix: Dr. John Waters is already penning his carefully considered, eminently expert, non-agenda driven response, after close collaboration with Dr. David Quinn and Dr Breda O’Brien of the (now) Iona “medical” Institute. And speaking of agendas, Senator Ronan Mullen, the heterosexual unmarried defender of heterosexual marriage is alerting the Irish public to the insidious forces at work, in a piece entitled, “Savita Halappanavar”, What was her Real Agenda ?” Meanwhile, back at the ranch at Youth Attack HQ, flood warnings have been issued due to the torrent-like streams of bile released by “concerned” members of the aforementioned organisation.

      1. Arbs

        On the contrary: Senator Ronan Mullen has in the past insidiously and surreptitiously linked homosexuality and paedophilia. He has the most patronising attitude to gay people espousing a very low level of tolerance which leads to the worst type of discrimination. My point, my dear fellow, whatever Senator Ronan Mullen’s sexuality, which is frankly of no interest to me, is that he hardly emulates the standard which he promotes. A standard which he promotes not positively but negatively in opposition to others who he views as not fully developed. He should, given his own circumstances, be conscious of the respect due to those who don’t follow a traditional way of life.

        1. BLC

          If his arguments are weak, attack his arguments. Smeary speculation on his private life is crass. And when you use the imputation of homosexuality to ridicule someone, you’re being homophobic.

          1. Arbs

            Mullen has spent a career interfering, moralising and casting grotesque and untrue aspersions on the private lives on gay men and women. I have not interest in his sexuality, and my point, which you fail to appreciate, is not that he is homosexual rather that he doesn’t emulate the gold-standard which he promotes (rather feverishly in opposition to other ways of life). Given your previous musings, I would wager that you have as much concern for homophobia in society today as I do for the views of Senator Ronan Mullen.

          2. BLC

            I know what he’s trying to do, Lou, but I believe he’s doing it in a homophobic way.

            Being gay and anti-gay would make Mullen a hypocrite (albeit one deserving of some human sympathy for what would presumably be a fairly tortured life). But his sexuality is beside the point. If he’s homophobic he’s ALREADY wrong. Attack that. Why muddy it with a gay smear?

        1. BLC

          Fair enough if you missed it. How would you feel if Arbs attacked a racist, with the same sneering tone, for being secretly black?

          1. Arbs

            Re-read and have a little think about your impeccable logic. This is a gross anomaly and non-sequitur in your drive to discredit me and impute that which is not there.

          2. BLC

            No, it’s an analogy. The non-analogy version is a few inches up the page. You’re blustering instead of engaging with either.

          3. Tickle

            No.. seriously… you have been told a few times now. There is nothing homophobic in that piece arbs wrote.

            He or she is just calling Mullens a prick. Not homosexuals. She or he might have inferred that Mullens is possibly homosexual by not being married but that has nothing to do with the piece calling him a prick.

            In other news broadsheet.ie is seriously turning in a mental assylum.

            I mean no insult to mental patiens btw.

          4. BLC

            Arbs is using an inference of homosexuality as a political smear. I find that homophobic and crass.

            I can’t put it any more clearly than that, so maybe we’ll just agree to disagree.

          5. Navel

            RE:”Arbs is using an inference of homosexuality as a political smear.”

            If he was using an inference of being a closeted homosexual who is homophobic to hide his homosexuality, would you consider that to be homophobic?

          6. BLC

            Good question. Do you mean a politician whose homophobic public statements were a kind of smokescreen for his own secret homosexuality?

            I would still prefer his opponents to attack his policy rather than his motives. I’d still think that any kind of gay name-calling in a society with our history of homophobia should be avoided.

            Arbs’ point (insofar as he has one) is that Mullen is a homophobe and a hypocrite. I’d prefer to focus on the homophobia. I would also prefer to live in a country where people don’t bring the imagined sex lives of their political opponents into a public arena, however relevant they think they are. Attack the policies. Attack the statements. If they’re wrong, they’re wrong whether the guy behind them is gay or not.

  12. Johnny the big wig defamation silk.

    Alleges malpractice?! With nothing more than newspaper reports to rely on.
    I lick my lips at the eventual day in the four courts.

  13. pedeyw

    I’m seriously worried that the government will blame the doctors on this then continue to not legislate.

  14. r

    woman dead. doctors scared to do what should have been done perhaps due to pro-life pressure and fear of repercussions. no, I don’t know the whole story, but I AM a woman. Angry, appalled and spitting fire over this. Abortion on demand. now.

  15. Caboosicle

    I find it amusing that so many people are being accused of all sorts for wanting to be informed of all the facts before making a decision.

    Why don’t we skip all the discussion and just start lynching Catholics now? It will just save us time in the long run.

  16. Dr D

    I’d like to ask one question and make one point.

    Who really believes that a health professional who dedicates his/her life to saving lives and improving outcomes, whilst missing out on their own family life, weddings, funerals, etc would stand idly by and watch a young woman suffer, in the knowledge that they could definitely end the suffering?

    Whilst I have huge respect for Dr Goldacre, I really don’t think the Maternal health symposium thing is as sinister as it looks. I think really that the doctors involved know that they are probably performing a form of termination, but that they are protected in conscience and in law by the doctrine of double effect.

    1. BLC

      Probably there’s a Godwin variant against invoking Harold Shipman, but he was a qualified doctor. All the missed funerals in the world don’t make people immune from psychopathy, negligence, cruelty, drunkenness, misinterpretation of the law, swivel-eyed religiosity or plain bad judgement.

      We don’t know what happened here. But you’re in danger of painting the medical profession as some kind of infallible elect. In a country where so much damage has been done by deference to authority, perhaps including this very incident, it’s not a great note to strike.

      1. Dr D

        I’m not saying anyone is infallible, just that they have a right to a presumption of innocence. Medical professionals can’t defend themselves in this particular case in the media. You’re right though, there are some seriously deficient doctors, but I really don’t think, having experience in working in hospitals for many years that anyone, particularly given the potential for extreme consequences would stand by and watch a patient die.

        I may be painting broad brushstrokes of a profession, but I would be more than willing to criticise if and when evidence of negligence or poor practice is available. On the other hand, people on this website are suggesting that specific doctors are guilty of negligence, on the basis of no real evidence.

        1. BLC

          Fair points. I don’t mean to join the stampede to judgement. While we can’t rule out incompetence and the rest, it’s too early to rule anything in.

          Do you know how soon a hospital would usually compile an incident report on something like this, and what form it might take?

          1. Dr D

            No idea. It’s not a common occurrence so I’ve never been involved in one. I’d say it won’t be this side of the new year anyway, particularly because there’s probably several doctors involved, all of whom would have to be represented. I think it’s also unclear as to whether the findings would be published, given that patient confidentiality is at stake here. Just because the husband has brought the issue into the public domain, doesn’t mean that the report can be made public.

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