Two Lives Lost in Ireland

Savita Halappanavar

The following is a statement from Father Shenan J. Boquet, president of Human Life International, on the death of Savita Halappanavar, an Indian woman who was allegedly refused an abortion from a Catholic hospital in Ireland:

“The staff and pro-life missionaries of Human Life International join those mourning the death of Savita. We pray that God have mercy on her soul and that He will bring peace and healing to her family and friends who have lost a loved one.

“But we categorically reject the pro-abortion activist and media effort to use her death for their own cause when very few facts are known about the decisions regarding her treatment. We join Irish Health Minister James Reilly in appealing for people to await the outcome of investigations by the coroner, the Hospital and Health Service Executive. And it needs to be pointed out that according to Mr. Reilly, there is no evidence that a Catholic ethos prevented responsible treatment of Savita despite some news reports demonizing the Catholic Church’s position on abortion as the sole reason for Savita’s tragic death.

“The Church’s position in these difficult cases is always to save both patients – both mother and child. The description of the hospital’s response to Savita’s condition sounds, at best, incomplete, and at worst, a complete misrepresentation of the response of a hospital that has an exemplary record for maternal health.

“We must also ask why it is not time for a national conversation about abortion when a woman dies from having an abortion. In the U.S., it is well known that a young woman named Tonya Reaves died this past July from a botched abortion at a Chicago Planned Parenthood, yet somehow her death did not merit international attention and condemnation despite reports of staggering negligence on the part of Planned Parenthood leading to her death. And yet we are led to believe with this deluge of press surrounding the death of Savita, and with obviously incomplete information, that a Catholic hospital maliciously caused the death of a young mother by not treating her.

“This is activism masquerading as compassion and moral outrage. Let us find out what the hospital actually offered for treatment, how things actually proceeded, then let’s make our judgment as to the cause of this tragic death. But if we are actually concerned about women’s health, we must be just as outraged by those many women harmed or killed every week through legal and illegal abortion around the world. Until then, with the Catholic Church, we insist that medical professionals do everything they can to save both mother and child in these difficult situations. Abortion always takes one life and harms another. It saves no one, and it divides communities and nations, as we see again in this tragic episode.”

Fr. Shenan J. Boquet


Fr. Shenan J. Boquet is the President of Human Life International.

Subscribe to CE
(It's free)

Go to Catholic Exchange homepage

  • I suspect it was probably a situation where having or not having the abortion offered only 50-50 chances on the mother’s survival. In other words, six of one, half a dozen of the other. In which case, the hospital made the right decision, since no procedure is permissible when it would directly result in the death of the patient.

  • Tommy R

    I would be willing to bet that the ALL the “healthcare
    professionals” that were involved in this tragic situation were personally
    opposed to pro-life regulations that exist in Ireland.

  • Cyril

    Excellent article. I think the two points worth remembering are: (1) the church does not prohibit procedures directed at saving the mother even if such procedures are likely to result in the death of the child, as long as the child’s death is not the objective. That is the principle of double effect, a classic example being a surgeon who removes a cancerous womb from a pregnant woman, knowing the child will die; (2) women like Tonya Reaves die and the pro-death lobbyists are quiet.

  • JAM

    Wonderful article by Father Boquet. Thank you for standing up for the truth and especially calling the media on their activism. I pray for all involved and am sorry for this mother’s death and her child. God bless you!

  • nah

    Journalism, especially from the mainstream media, is a disgrace and is becoming laughably irrelevent. If I am like most people, the news is becoming just background noise that at best is a contrarian indicator of the truth. Reactionary news has replaced credible facts, and only the stories that serve the ideals of those in charge get the most press. We used to be a culture that thrived on the news but now it’s just cheap entertainment.