Pro Life?

“This is a catholic country”.

With these five words from the doctors, Savita Halanappavar’s fate was sealed in the Dublin hospital where she was admitted in the last week of Oct 2012.

Suffering from severe back pain, it was discovered that she suffered a miscarriage of her 17 week pregnancy. Yet, every doctor who examined her told her that as long as the fetal heart beat was present, the abortion could not be carried out because of the country’s catholic beliefs. It did not matter to the doctors that Savita was neither Irish by birth or citizenship, nor Catholic;  not to mention that the fetus couldn’t have been revived by any means.

In 1992, the supreme court of Ireland ruled in favour of terminating the pregnancy of an expecting mother in case it endangers the mother’s life (a ruling which had not been implemented by the subsequent Irish governments).

The 31-year-old Indian dentist withered in agony for four days and by the time the remains of the fetus were removed, it was too late. Septicemia had set in and the blood poisoning rendered various internal organs useless. She breathed her last on October 2012. At the time of writing, the Irish embassy in India has assured that an impartial probe will be carried out.

Before blaming the Republic of Ireland, one has to take into account that if there were a few medics of mayhem, there were also hundreds and thousands of Irish citizens who protested strongly for this unpardonable death of a foreigner in their country. It was therefore, poor taste on the part of a few imminent panelists on an Indian news channel to give the colour of racism to it. Nothing can be farther from the truth.

This is not about being Hindu or a Christian, or a European or an Asian. This is about the damage caused by an organized religious code, which in a few countries, vehemently refuses to adapt itself to the modern world. The unfortunate Savita happened to be in one of them. And if the Irish doctors applied these parameters to a Hindu woman, who was not a citizen, which led to her death, what of the countless Catholic Irishwomen who probably had to deal with a similar fate in the name of upholding the “word of god”? And how many more women are in danger if these archaic laws are not relaxed?

The Vatican has always reiterated its stand against abortion and even contraception because it interferes with “God’s will”. Missionaries too, follow their parent organization’s line, the most famous of them being the Albanian nun popularly known as Mother Teresa who spoke about banning both abortion and contraception (these were people who also saw poverty and suffering as god’s will, instead of scourges which must be eradicated). A senior Republican politician had said that even pregnancy caused by rape is god’s will, a comment which was rightly condemned wholeheartedly in his own country. In the whole largely Christian western world the debate between pro choice and pro life continues unabated.

For the last two centuries, the hold of every church has diminished over its adherents. Young people across the western world are by and large living their lives as contrary as possible to what the church has been preaching for nearly two millennia. The church’s views on putting an end to contraception, abortion, working women, divorce and even homosexuality find hardly any takers among the youth today. Add to that the various child abuse cases around the world involving priests happening every now and then, and the picture becomes even murkier.

While it is true that feminism has brought forth untold horrors in the name of free thought and progressivism, like promiscuity and misandry , the biggest damage done by it has been a breaking up of the family system and the blatant misuse of the pro choice argument . It is not at all rare to find the so called “progressive woman” in western societies who kills her unborn child due to her desire of a free life without family obligations, her career or simply because the pregnancy is a result of one of her numerous adventures. These are the very women who are the most cacophonic and vocal about “a woman has a right over her body and she can do whatever she pleases with it”. A woman does have a right over her body, but to use this as an excuse for a promiscuous lifestyle is disgusting beyond comparison. Aborting an unborn child, only in order to have a “free” life or just because it is a result of a fling, is nothing less than slaughter.

On the other hand, the talk of pro life has no meaning if it endangers the life of the to-be mother due to birth complications, or condemns a victim of rape to go ahead and have the child which would remind her of the trauma every moment from thereon. It also has no meaning when it discourages the use of contraceptives as it is seen in the poverty stricken, abnormally large families across many conservative societies around the world. It is often sad to see incurable patients living a life worse than death because pro life does not allow the termination of life in these cases.

It is up to the society to decide whether religious views and laws are more important than their safety or their very lives. When someone’s well being or safety is being made subservient to some code of conduct, then the time has come for self-introspection by every individual in that community, as it is an indication that something is seriously wrong with it.

Pro life argument is meaningless if it endangers or denigrates one life in the favour of a dim possibility that the other life might sustain. That would just be a pro existence argument. Pro life just doesn’t mean in favour of not letting something perish. A real pro life philosophy would mean that everyone has a right to a free, healthy and dignified life, where no one would be subservient to any self-appointed representatives of morality and ethics. Freedom that costs life is not freedom at all, but a life which costs freedom isn’t a life at all either.

Ankur Jayawant

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