This letter is in response to the ministerial column that appeared in the Oct. 15 edition of the Barrhead Leader, which is titled, Pro-life or Pro What?
Rev. Barry Beukema ends his “Pro-Life or Pro-What” article with a reference to Psalm 139: “You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Unfortunately, Creation can offer dropped stitches and conception and birth do not always follow “being wonderfully made.” Just ask Dr. Savita Halappanavar’s husband.
Who is Savita Halappanavar?
Dr. Halappanavar died in 2012 at age 31 from septicaemia — an infection she contracted after she was denied an abortion during a miscarriage. This took place in Ireland.
As reported by the Guardian newspaper: Dr. Halappanavar, a dentist, and her husband, an engineer, were living in Galway in 2012 and preparing for the birth of their first child.
That all changed 17 weeks into her first trimester, when Dr. Halappanavar went to the hospital with back pain on Oct. 21 and doctors said she was having a miscarriage. Dr. Halappanavar was told that her fetus would not survive — but that she could not be given an abortion, her husband said.
Ireland, she was told, is “a Catholic country,” and it would be illegal to terminate the pregnancy while the fetus still had a heartbeat, her husband said.
Savita’s death became a catalyst for change to the Eighth Amendment of its Constitution, which had banned access to legal abortions in Ireland since 1983. During a referendum in May of 2018, 66.4 per cent of votes were in favour of changing the amendment while 33.6 per cent voted no — a record turnout of 64.51 per cent.
The story is a reminder that women and their families and partners may need medical interventions or therapeutic interventions that result in terminations because the embryo or fetus is dying, has no brain stem, and does not have all organs present or an induced miscarriage is required.
Not all conception results in being knitted and wonderfully made in the womb. Not all abortions are simply a solution to an “unplanned pregnancy” as many Pro-Life organizations would have us believe. Conception and birth is more complex than a simple black and white appeal to preserving life.
Finally, comparing abortion to the persecution of Jews or Afro-American lynchings is not only detestable but inappropriate, since abortion is a legal choice within Canada while lynchings and Jewish persecution were examples of systematic violence born of hate, fear, prejudice and supremacist ideologies perpetrated by the state.