After the Supreme Court’s historic decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, some doctors are highlighting the 2012 death of a pregnant woman in Ireland and warning that the same thing could happen on a large scale in the United States.
Dr. Savita Halappanavar, a 31-year-old Indian-born dentist, died in 2012 in Galway, on Ireland’s west coast, after she was denied an abortion by doctors who cited the country’s strict laws, despite there being no chance of her baby’s survival, according to Ireland’s official report on the case.
Her death shook the foundations of the traditionally conservative and predominantly Roman Catholic country, and catalyzed its pro-abortion rights movement. In a 2018 referendum, Irish people voted by a two-thirds majority to legalize the procedure.
The avoidable death of Halappanavar, who was 17 weeks pregnant, proved that doctors — not politicians, police and judges — should help decide the best course of action in similar cases, according to Dr. Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, the expert who in 2013 wrote the official report on the case.
“That’s why Biden said that the issue should be between the patient and the doctor, rather than with the law,” he told NBC News by phone, referring to President Joe Biden’s speech reacting to Roe v. Wade’s reversal June 24.