Nov 152012

So this has been blowing up all over.

Savita Halappanavar, 17 weeks pregnant, was miscarrying. There was no chance that the fetus would survive. In excruciating pain, Savita asked for an abortion. The hospital, University Hospital Galway in Ireland, refused. Why? There was still a fetal heartbeat, and as Savita and her husband were told, “this is a Catholic country”.

They forced Savita to wait, “in agony”, for another two days until the fetus died. By that time, she had to be taken into intensive care, and died a few days later of septicemia and E. coli infection.

I recall not too long ago the right-wing extremists were screaming about “Death Panels” that would be instituted if the government was allowed to help people pay for health care. Turns out they’re still screaming about it actually, I’ve tuned out the crazy people enough that I didn’t realize they hadn’t gotten over it yet.

And yet the REAL Death Panels – the people who actually look at someone and say “Nope, we won’t treat you even though we can easily do so. You get to die slowly in agony for no reason.” – are right-wing extremists. I am not the least bit surprised. Whenever you want to know what a right-wing extremist is guilty of, simply look at what he’s most vehemently screaming about. It’s almost a cliche.

  8 Responses to “Catholic Death Panels”

  1. Does this example disprove concerns about having life-and-death health care decisions dictated by the government, or does it illustrate them?

    • I was about to say it illustrates that bad things happen when evil people gain power… but that is both self-evident and a cliche. So upon further reflection –

      I think it illustrates that one should judge people by their actions, rather than by their rhetoric. The Catholic Church has a lot of rhetoric about “respecting life” and “doing good”. They’ve got this whole “God is the best person possible and we’re doing his will” shtick. But their actions have long indicated that they are an evil institution.

      The comparison was to the extremists who never stop talking about government death-panels and socialism, but who reveal themselves to have a crass disregard for life and quite a fondness for authoritarianism.

      In effect I’m saying “Those guys are bad. Don’t believe their lies.”

      • Except in the course of saying that, you demonstrated that one of their “lies” is valid — when you put government in charge of health care, as Ireland has done, people die when idiots in government make asinine decisions.

      • It’s not a government issue – their Supreme Court established a right to abortion when a pregnant woman’s life is at risk in 1992, and their Health Services Executive is launching an investigation. The issue is the people who had the power to save her or let her die – the catholic hospital.

        The focus on “we can’t let the government have this power!” is dumb – there will always be people with that power, and at the moment of action there isn’t a thing anyone can do about it, short of getting a gun and directly threatening the doctors. The government already has the power to let the Catholic Death Panel continue its work unchallenged, or to punish it for not complying to government rules on who gets to live. And fortunately it looks like in this case they will be taking the later option.

        People in these situations die whenever anyone in power makes asinine (or evil) decisions. This incident could’ve happened just as easily if the extremists had seized control of the government rather than the hospital. My point wasn’t “don’t let the govt have this power” – it already does. It was “don’t let the pro-“life”ers take the govt”.

      • It’s misleading to refer to University Hospital Galway as a “catholic hospital.” It is a state-operated hospital, not a religious facility. Pro-lifers didn’t seize control of this particular hospital; rather, pro-lifers control the government in Ireland.

        I know you weren’t intentionally making the point that government shouldn’t have more power — I was suggesting you may want to think further about the issue. The more power you concentrate in the hands of government, the more power you’re handing to people you dislike the next time you lose an election.

      • I apologize, I was under the impression that it was a catholic hospital.

        It is extremely unfortunate that Ireland is in that position, I know several states over here that have similar problems. I’m not for more government power, but does one get around the fact that the government can restrict certain services, and require that others be offered without discrimination? Is it a better solution to disallow all regulation, rather than to argue over its implementation? I know libertarians argue yes, but I’m not convinced. I really like not breathing coal smoke.

  2. I agree there are many areas where regulation is necessary, notwithstanding my general distrust of government.

    • I think a lot of it comes down to who you distrust more – private interests, or governments. I’ve always distrusted private interests more, so I’ve fallen on the left side of many regulatory disputes.

      I wanted to say thank you for engaging me on this. :) The only way to refine ideas is by fire, and most people don’t like to play with that. I appreciate it anytime someone helps me to become stronger or less wrong.

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