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2 Bumps

Does a mother have the right...(edited)

To terminate the pregnancy if she knows(and has been told) the baby is going to be still born?

Okay this question was inspired from an article I read in The Stranger, a local newspaper in Seattle.  Here is the article:

Faith Healers

I'm sitting in a crowded coffee shop and I'm making a woman cry. At least, that's how it looks. Tears are slipping down the laugh lines in her cheeks, and one hand rests on her small belly. People around us are covertly staring.  But we're not discussing her pregnancy, not yet. We're talking about Savita Halappanavar, the Ireland resident who died from pregnancy complications four months ago, in a country that doesn't believe in abortion. "Except, of course, when a woman's life is in danger—they all add that caveat," the woman across from me says. "Like your pregnancy is a game of chicken they can play."  When Halappanavar was told that she was miscarrying, the 31-year-old dentist and her husband mourned the loss of what would have been their firstborn child. According to reports, they were eager to start a family. But, as there was nothing Halappanavar or doctors could do to save her 17-week-old fetus, she asked for an abortion to speed up the heart-wrenching process.  And she was denied.

According to Halappanavar's husband, they were told, "This is a Catholic country." Even though abortion wasn't against the Hindu couple's religious beliefs, they were told that her fetus still had a heartbeat, and as long as that tiny heart kept beating, doctors would do nothing to speed up her body's inevitable miscarriage.

Still, she asked, day after day, according to her husband, as her body grew weaker, her blood pressure dropped and her fever spiked, and she became disoriented and afraid. Doctors and nurses monitored her for infections but told her husband there was nothing more they could do, even as she vomited and her breathing became irregular. Finally, on October 24, three days after being admitted to the hospital, the fetal heartbeat stopped. Doctors snapped into action, and within hours, Halappanavar delivered a dead fetus. But it was too late for the aspiring mother: Despite the steady stream of antibiotics being administered to her, infection set in, then septic shock. As Halappanavar lost consciousness, her now-empty womb bloated with infection and her skin turned blue, according to her husband's reports. Doctors assured him that she was young and she'd bounce back, even as her body shut down, even as she could no longer breathe on her own and her body wouldn't respond to dialysis. One week after being admitted to the hospital, Halappanavar died.

If one good can be taken from Halappanavar's slow and likely avoidable death, it's that the world witnessed it and an important dialogue began: Whose ethical or religious conscience reigns supreme in hospitals—the patients whose health is at stake or the institutions caring for them?


But cases like Halappanavar's exist in Washington State. In fact, they've happened right here in Seattle. "I was past 24 weeks when doctors at Swedish told me I was miscarrying," explains the woman sitting across from me at the coffee shop. We'll call her Mary. She's asked to remain anonymous to maintain her privacy, but like Halappanavar, Mary is a thirtysomething professional who was eager to start a family with her husband. So they got pregnant the old-fashioned, church- approved way: missionary style, after marriage. Life was swell, and the ultrasounds looked good. And then Mary awoke in pain last year; there was blood. She was checked into Swedish Medical Center, Seattle's largest nonprofit health-care provider. But unbeknownst to Mary, last year the hospital formed an alliance with Providence, a Washington-based Catholic institution that operates 32 hospitals in Alaska, California, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. Per their new relationship, Swedish agreed to stop performing abortions except in emergency situations—you know, like when a woman's life is at risk. Its website now advertises OB "speed dating" events to new mothers: Choose the OB who will deliver your baby! But for expectant mothers whose pregnancies don't make it that far, and whose health hasn't yet deteriorated to "emergency" status, a grim set of entirely different choices await.

During Mary's Swedish visit last year, "They said that they couldn't save the fetus but it still had a heartbeat, so there was nothing they could do. They had to wait for the heartbeat to stop."

Mary says she demanded an abortion but was basically told her options were to "wait for nature to take its course" or unhook herself, crawl out of bed, and find another hospital. "It was a nightmare," she says. "It still is."

Miscarriages are common, and complications can be deadly. The American Pregnancy Association estimates that between 10 and 25 percent of all clinically recognized pregnancies end in miscarriage, and the chance that a woman will suffer a miscarriage during her pregnancy rises with age.

Fortunately for Mary, the fetal heartbeat stopped soon after she was admitted. But the emotional damage she sustained runs deep. "That experience left me mistrustful of doctors. I still feel helpless about it. My husband and I want to have a baby, but frankly I'm afraid of getting pregnant again."

Answer Question

Asked by Anonymous at 7:54 PM on Mar. 7, 2013 in Politics & Current Events

Answers (19)
  • Honestly, it depends on how far along she is in the pregnancy.

    Answer by 3libras at 7:55 PM on Mar. 7, 2013

  • It shouldn't matter. If the baby is going to be still born, should she have the right to an abortion?

    Comment by Anonymous (original poster) at 7:56 PM on Mar. 7, 2013

  • If the baby is going to be still born then the life is already terminated... do you mean the fetus is viable inside the womb but is not predicted to survive birth?

    Answer by Anonymous at 7:57 PM on Mar. 7, 2013

  • In this country, for the most part, a mother has the right to terminate a pregnancy before a certain number of weeks--I believe it's 24--for whatever reason she sees fit. Doctors will induce contractions to get a baby out that has died before it produces toxic effects in the mother.

    Answer by Ballad at 7:57 PM on Mar. 7, 2013

  • Yes. Why would anyone want to continue the pregnancy if the baby is dead? How sad that would be.

    Answer by mrsmom110 at 7:58 PM on Mar. 7, 2013

  • It does matter though. Laws are fairly clear on termination and the age of the pregnancy. Further, the baby is not dead at the time of the abortion so, in my opinion, THAT is the variable that doesn't matter at this point.

    Answer by Mrs_Prissy at 7:58 PM on Mar. 7, 2013

  • Does she have the legal right ? I guess it depends on the state laws in the area and how far along she is.

    Answer by But_Mommie at 7:58 PM on Mar. 7, 2013

  • Further, the baby is not dead at the time of the abortion so, in my opinion, THAT is the variable that doesn't matter at this point.

    Yeah but the baby is in there's not getting any oxygen, it's brain damaged, its intestines are outside of its stomach, or it has a fatal heartbeat. Is it better to let it suffer and cause the mother emotional trauma or abort the pregnancy...which would still cause emotional trauma either way so it doesn't matter. It's a shitty situation.

    Comment by Anonymous (original poster) at 8:04 PM on Mar. 7, 2013

  • Wow- the amount of 'trauma' caused by either decision is quite subjective- don't ya think.

    Answer by But_Mommie at 8:18 PM on Mar. 7, 2013

  • LOL That's what I said. I mean it's a shitty situation either way, but I think the mother has the right to abort the pregnancy if she knows the baby will eventually be dead and is suffering.

    Comment by Anonymous (original poster) at 8:20 PM on Mar. 7, 2013

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