Pro-choice hypocrisy: Halappanavar vs. Reaves

Every senseless death is a tragedy.  This being said, depending on one’s perspective, rationale can be offered as to why one death is more tragic than another.

Recent headlines mourn the unfortunate death of Savita Halappanavar, a 31 year-old woman who died apparently because she was denied an abortion due to the strict abortion laws in Ireland, and rightfully so.  But another tragic story, that of Tonya Reaves, a 24 year-old woman who died tragically because of an abortion, has been lost in the shuffle it seems.  Her story, while equally tragic, but for different reasons, is also cause to reflect on where you stand on the issue of abortion.  Unsurprisingly, the reactions to each have been starkly different from the pro-abortion choice crowd.

Many pro-abortion choice advocates argue that abortion must remain legal to prevent women like Halappanavar from dying because abortion is not a legal option.  I’m not sure if it’s widely known, but women are injured and die from “safe” legal abortions each year.  It seems, though, that even when abortion is legal, there will always be women like Tonya Reaves.

Given the attention Halappanavar is receiving, I think it’s safe to assume her incident is very rare, if not one of a kind.  That, or these kinds of deaths are only now considered news-worthy, but I’m not so sure.  So why is it that this one incident is held up as though it’s as common as Christmas music in December?

I remember the reaction from abortion defenders when Reaves’ story broke, they admonished anyone who might use her story to champion stricter abortion laws.  They claimed her death was being exploited for political gain.  But isn’t Halappanavar’s death now being used for gain: to loosen restrictions on abortion?  Is there a good reason for this double standard?  Or is exploitation not really the issue, but it’s direction instead?

I am left to ask pro-abortion choice advocates: is Savita Halappanavar’s death more tragic than that of Tonya Reaves, and others like her?  If both women’s deaths are the exception and not the rule, but you believe Halappanavar’s death gives us reason to loosen abortion access, doesn’t Reaves’ death suggest they ought to be tightened?


  1. “I’m not sure if it’s widely known, but women are injured and die from “safe” legal abortions each year. ”

    Women are injured and die from safe, legal surgeries all the time. Women are injured and die from safe, legal C-sections and natural births all the time.

    It’s horrible. But it happens. And it doesn’t mean that it should be illegal.

    “is Savita Halappanavar’s death more tragic than that of Tonya Reaves, and others like her? ”

    They are equally tragic in their outcome. However, Ms. Halappanavar was denied medical treatment that could have saved her life. Ms. Reaves made a choice to have a medical procedure that comes with certain risks. Looked at that way, I’d say the woman who was denied treatment is the more tragic event.

  2. I don’t think either should be exploited. Rather look at one and say ‘this is what happens when zero abortions are allowed for any reason’ and look at the other and say ‘we need to make sure the risks of abortion, like any surgical procedure, are understood so women can make informed choices. ‘

  3. Actually, being “denied an abortion” isn’t what killed Savita. She died of blood poisoning several days after Prasa, her daughter (yes, they named her), died and was removed. Based on what we know, Savita was miscarrying when she came into the hospital. I don’t know at what point they learned this, but she can contracted a form of E. Coli that is anti-biotic resistant, and had already claimed the lives of others. The E. Coli seems to be what caused the miscarriage and the blood poisoning that eventually killed both mother and daughter.

    People are claiming that she was “refused an abortion” due to the strict anti-abotion laws, but this doesn’t pass even a cursory smell test.

    1) religion: This was a Catholic hospital. The Catholic position is that all effort be made to save the mother, including termination of pregnancy if no other recourse is available. This is not considered an abortion by the Catholic church, but as something more like a miscarriage.

    2) medical: Savita came into the hospital already quite ill and in a weakened state. All effort would have been made to save both, with the mother being the priority. Given her condition, it is unlikely the surgical removal of Prasa before she died would have saved her mother any more then removing her after she died did.

    3) legal: Irish law does actually allow for doctors to make their own call when it comes to emergency terminations (considering she was miscarrying, the term “abortion” doesn’t really apply). There was no legal restriction to performing a termination, if it would have saved her life, and if one doctor was unwilling to do it, that hospital certainly had others that would have been willing, including one described as a “rabid” pro-abortionist.

    Until an investigation is complete, there is NO reason to believe that speeding along Savita’s miscarriage by removing Prasa before she died would have saved Savita’s life. This case is being used by pro-abortionists to further their cause to a disgusting degree. Savita’s death is the best thing that could have happened for them, and they’re using it for all they’re worth, truth be damned!

  4. John,

    The problem with laws that prohibit abortion is that oftentimes they are so poorly worded they leave too much ambiguity, or occasionally, are so stringent to result in unfortunate and wholly preventable deaths like Mrs.Halappanavar’s.

    It’s not difficult to word a law in such a way that prevents unnecessary abortions and maternal deaths, but it’s difficult to get that wording into law because of the “necessity” to compromise with anti-lifers, who want laws so ambiguous that a mere headache is grounds for termination. In some countries, admittedly religious countries, pro-lifers preempt these tactics by ramming through stringent prohibitions.

    Kunoichi may have a point, but it’s too early to know whether the abortion would have saved her life. Apparently, an investigation is still underway. But the reality is, if left untreated, septicemia gets worse, particularly if not treated at the source. So we do need to wait until the investigation is complete, as Kunoichi said.

    We shouldn’t jump to conclusions, but then again, we’re asking this of a group who gleefully slaughters children. Our mistake.

    However, Ms. Halappanavar was denied medical treatment that could have saved her life.

    You don’t know that. You’re jumping to conclusions. We must wait until the investigation is completed. There could be missing information in these stories since details of the investigation have not been released.

    Ms. Reaves made a choice to have a medical procedure that comes with certain risks. Looked at that way, I’d say the woman who was denied treatment is the more tragic event.

    Logical fallacy.

    It seems to me, NotAScientist, I took you to school yesterday. You’re becoming one of my favorite students! Anyway.

    Abortion is one of the most dangerous medical procedures in existence if you take into account the increased risk of mental health problems, substance abuse problems, and, yes, breast cancer. And don’t come back stupidly and deny the existence of these studies, because as I showed you yesterday, I’m good for it. I proved to you that homosexual parenting can be a deleterious influence on children – and curiously you were nowhere to be found. You’re a know-nothing liberal hack.

  5. @Terrance,

    “Abortion is one of the most dangerous medical procedures in existence if you take into account the increased risk of mental health problems, substance abuse problems, and, yes, breast cancer.”

    Can you provide a reference for this claim… As it is a rather bold claim, that seems in opposition with reality.

    Out of curiosity, in which post did you discuss homosexual parenting and such?

  6. There is another case of “pro-choice” hypocrisy.
    Why don’t they show their position against suing for paternity if the man didn’t choose to be father or wanted to?

  7. What’s worse?

    1. A woman dies due to a mistake in a surgery. She wanted the surgery. The doctors made a mistake that had a very low probability of ever occurring.

    2. A woman is denied a surgery that would save her life due to a country’s religion that she is not a part of. It is well within the means of the doctors to save her yet she has no possibility of living from the beginning.

    I think this is a no-brainer.

    • While it may seem like a no-brainer to you, it’s not for everyone. Mostly because the way you frame your dilemma.

      What the pro-abortion crowd, such as yourself, like to do is paint abortion as this surgery with no risks, either mentally or physically. Not only that, pro-abortion advocates actually try to sue when states try to make all the risks known. When people try to bring up the risks they are painted as religious extremists. You want to sweep women like Reaves under the rug. The truth of the matter is injuries are common with abortion, but activists dont like it known.

      Of course Halappanavar’s death is tragic, but as was noted above, the situation is still being investigated. And as also noted, Ireland allows for abortion to save the mother’s life, so it’s not at all clear that religion prevented the abortion. Do you really believe that they would have preferred the mother’s death to that of her already dying child? If so, you’re not being at all serious with this.

      What do you think?

      • I do not wish to “sweep women like Reaves under the rug”. That’s a cruel sentiment. I think what happened to her was tragic and the worst kind of unfortunate. Do not paint me as cruel when I am no such thing. I do not deny there are risks with abortion. I do, however, think you’re overplaying them. Oodles of abortions are performed every day. Severe complications occur every once in a while. The same way a plane crashed in France today killing over a hundred people, tragedies happen when humans take a certain calculated risk. I’m know the situation with Mrs. Halappanavar’s death is still being investigated and what not. But let’s put aside this particular example where there’s some doubt (at least on your end) about what occurred, and let’s consider a general case. Which of my original two cases do you find more tragic? Again, not applied to recent news, just in general.

  8. John,

    What are these examples of states being sued due to doctors being made to describe actually existing risks of abortion?

    I do know that some states have forced doctors to say and give out written information that is (according to doctors and researhers themselves) false. But I am guessing that is not what you are referring to.

    • What I’m referring to is informing the mother that she is ending the life of a child, which is medically accurate, and in some states required. I believe some states require it be known the link between abortion and depression, breast cancer, and some other side effects. Some states require the mother to hear the heartbeat and or an ultrasound photo.

      The ACLU (I believe) and planned parenthood have sued and or petitioned states to prevent women from knowing exactly the ramifications of abortion and what exactly they are doing. These things being in place have reduced the number of abortions, and that seems to be unacceptable to some on the Left.

  9. John,

    “Ending the life of a child” is not a medical term, so I am not sure how it could be “medical accurate.” As to whether it is for moral purposes a child, human being, person, etc. is not an issue of medical fact either, medicine is not the discipline directed to investigate moral concerns. And as I have been trying to demonstrate in another comment section on here, an embryo or fetus prior to 20 or so weeks should not be considered a person, child, human being, etc. in ethical concerns (I wish we could just use the standard terminology of “personhood” found in philosophical and ethical literature on the subject)

  10. The facts relating to the tragic death of Savita are not publicly known.
    What we do know is that the journalist talking credit for breaking the story is now backing away from the testimony of the husband.
    What we do know is that despite the fact that the journalist had the bulk of the details from the previous week (ref. Marian Finucane radio show Nov 25th), the story was not published until pro-abortion marches were organized, and then the story appeared in the two main national papers on that same day.
    God help all involved, and please let neither deaths be in vain.

  11. Lets look at these two cases carefully. One woman was denied treatment that would have almost certainly saved her life. That is tragic, and it should never have happened. The other woman decided to have a procedure which she knew carried risks – like any surgery, there are risks to abortion as well, and every woman who undergoes one knows about these risks. Despite knowing the risks, she decided to go ahead with the termination anyway. It was a tragedy that her abortion resulted in her death, but she was aware of the risks of the surgery. Both deaths, ideally, should never have happened, but the woman who was denied medical treatment is particularly tragic as her fetus – which was not viable – was considered more important than her own life.

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