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Where the War on Women Leads


Just so we’re clear:

Last month, a woman was admitted to a hospital in Galway, Ireland. She was 17 weeks pregnant with a wanted child. She was experiencing severe back pain. She was found to be miscarrying the pregnancy.

Within days, she was dead.

Why? Because she ended up in a Catholic hospital, governed by an ethic that even a non-viable fetus doomed to die is more important than a living, breathing 31-year-old woman.

It really is that simple.

Again, the fact that the anti-choice movement tends to attract misogynists so grotesque that they can’t win in states losing Republican presidential candidates carry by double digits isn’t some random coincidence. And as for the idea that religious institutions that perform secular functions with taxpayer dollars should be exempt from generally applicable law, I’m going to continue to vote “no.”

Update (djw): it seems worth noting that the US House of Representatives passed a resolution last year that would have moved US law much closer to the legal status quo in Ireland that permitted this ghastly, evil act:

H.R. 358 contains other provisions revealing complete disregard for women’s health and lives. It permits states to enact sweeping refusal laws that would allow health plans to refuse to cover women’s preventive services, including birth control, without cost-sharing — undoing a new protection under health reform supported by 66 percent of Americans.  It also codifies and significantly expands an already expansive refusal clause (also known as the Weldon amendment) without any regard for patient rights or protections. Under current law (through the 2004 Weldon amendment), hospitals, health care facilities, and insurance plans can refuse to provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions.  The Weldon amendment has no protections for patients to ensure they have access to care and information in a timely manner.  H.R. 358 codifies this unfair and discriminatory provision.  H.R. 358 further allows health care entities–hospitals, clinics–to refuse to “participate in” abortion care.  This could mean that a hospital employee with no medical training or role in a patient’s treatment decisions could refuse to process bills, handle medical records, or even set up an examination room for a patient seeking abortion care.

And finally, it overrides protections for pregnant women under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act.  EMTALA was enacted in 1986 to ensure public access to emergency services regardless of ability to pay, including women in active labor. Under EMTALA, hospitals must stabilize a pregnant patient who, for example, is facing an emergency obstetric condition or life-threatening pregnancy and either treat her–including an emergency abortion–or if the hospital or staff objects, to transfer her to another facility that will treat her.

H.R. 358 overturns decades of precedent guaranteeing people access to lifesaving emergency care, including abortion care and says its ok that a pregnant woman fighting for her life be left to die.

…[SL]: Also, Ohio Republicans would make the behavior of the doctors in Ireland not merely permissible but legally obligatory.

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  • That’s something that must terrify women in our shit ass excuse for a society: the possibility that you’ll end up, by no choice of your own, under the care of some asshole who thinks his morals should supersede your right to life.

    • Scott Lemieux

      This is silly. Everyone knows that the real “right to life” means 1)women should be coerced to carry pregnancies to term, and 2)that’s it.

    • Origami Isopod

      Just remember, abortion is a silly side issue and us silly, silly gurlz should focus only on the important issues (i.e., those that affect straight white men).

    • blowback

      What if this is nothing more than a case of medical incompetence. Given the risk to both mother and foetus of infection after the waters have broken,why wasn’t the mother started of a prophylactic course of large doses of antibiotics as soon as she was admitted to hospital? Septicaemia in the mother would surely almost certainly kill the foetus.

      • anonymous

        If it was just a case of “incompetence,” why was the husband told, “This is a Catholic country”?

        There is also a strong possibility that racism and religious bigotry played a role.

  • bradP

    Apparently abortion is legal in Ireland when it is necessary to save the life of the woman.

    What happened here?

    • Malaclypse

      See here:

      So in November of 1992 the Government introduced three new amendments meant to clarify things. The result was that things reverted much to the status quo ante, which essentially allowed Ireland to export its abortion problem to the United Kingdom while leaving it unclear what doctors facing a medical emergency during pregnancy were in a position to do.

      Also, because there is not much else to say, fuck. Fucking medieval theocrats. Fuck.

      • bradP

        After twenty years of legal uncertainty, one would think that a common business practice would have developed.

        Its terrible that the practice has settled on the side of legal caution for the physicians, rather than the health of their patients.

        • rea

          Its terrible that the practice has settled on the side of legal caution for the physicians, rather than the health of their patients.

          Indict a few of these guys for manslaughter, and see how what that does to their calculations of legal risk.

          • bradP

            Indict a few of these guys for manslaughter, and see how what that does to their calculations of legal risk.

            Or at least some massive lawsuits.

          • Holden Pattern

            And then the guy that runs your numbers and performs the abortion is indicted for murder… and then?

      • bexley

        The comments in that thread includes a link to this article.

        A Catholic bishop chooses an opportune time to pop his head over the parapet and argue against any relaxation in the laws governing abortion in Ireland.

    • If Irish law is like US law, its legality doesn’t mean a given doctor can be compelled to perform one. Now, any decent human being would have transferred her to a doctor who was willing to perform the operation. But hey, who cares if she dies as long as some Catholic doctor can stand before Fundie Patriarch Jesus with his head held high, eh?

      Fucking assholes.

    • bexley

      a) Abortion is illegal in the Republic of Ireland where the woman’s life is not in danger but her health is. As a result doctors have to make a judgement call on whether the mother’s life is actually in danger or “just” her health. This kind of restrictiveness encourages ass-covering behaviour from doctors that can end in this kind of tragedy. (Yet another reason not to apply massive restrictions to abortion access).

      b) Given these sorts of restrictions I’m curious about how many abortions are carried out in Ireland and whether the hospital even had anyone who could have carried it out.

    • blowback

      Until she got septicaemia her life was not threatened, so under Irish law an abortion would have been illegal. Unfortunately, it is a catch 22 situation. Once she got septicaemia it was probably unlikely she would survive. Her best chance would have been for her husband to have insurance that covered evacuation to Great Britain (not Northern Ireland) in the event of a life-threatening problem with her pregnancy.
      BTW, the hospital is not an openly Catholic one, it is the local university hospital, and it wasn’t its ethics or somebody’s morals which prevented the abortion, it was Irish law so blame the fucking Pope!

      • anonymous

        Until she got septicaemia her life was not threatened…

        From a healthcare professional:

        Her cervix was fully dilated and the amniotic sac was ruptured. The uterine cavity must be kept sterile, or chaos ensues. So her cervix is low and open, and what’s next to her vagina? Her anus. What lives in the gut? Dangerous enterotoxins like Eschericia coli.

        So giant gaping wound, directly next to an area teeming with coliforms = death.

        Also see this comment from an M.D.

        it wasn’t its ethics or somebody’s morals which prevented the abortion, it was Irish law so blame the fucking Pope!

        Yep, because culture and especially religion have no influence on law whatsoever. Which is why the separation of church and state in the U.S. means we are utterly untroubled here by fundie xtians. /snark

    • wengler

      Misogynistic religious bullshit.

      • Lee

        Under Jewish ethics, the Doctors would be morally obligated to abort the child to save the women’s life. While halacha doesn’t believe in a women’s right to choose as understood in feminism, it doesn’t argue that abortion is always immoral. Abortion is allowed in cases of rape or if the physical and mental health of the pregnant woman is in danger. The latter tends to get a loose defintion. Existing life takes precedence over the not yet born under Jewish law. This has been the consensu since the late 19th century by most Orthodox Jews.

        Its why abortion isn’t a culture war issue in Israel.

  • If she didn’t want to die, she shouldn’t have had sex.

    • Anonymous

      And if the “sex” was non-consensual, she should have had a vaginectomy, like good girls do.

      • Scott Lemieux

        Besides, according to noted scientician Todd Akin, that would be unpossible.

        • Anonymous

          Some girls rape cromulently, particularly if their nether parts have been embiggened by other men.

    • ema

      Dude, here on Earth, humans who plan to have children and want to become pregnant have sex. Biology 101, embrace it!

  • greylocks

    Just to add, septicaemia is a particularly awful way to die. Which no doubt gives the real hard-core crucifix-kissers boners about all that suffering.

  • The legal situation looks to be pretty confusing. The study group on laws which would cover the legality of abortion in life-threatening cases just handed over their conclusions.

    As far as I can determine, there is no law as such, only the early 1990s case X.

    The medical instructions are unclear, too. This is what they state (or so I was told):

    In current obstetrical practice, rare complications can arise where therapeutic intervention (including termination of a pregnancy) is required at a stage when, due to extreme immaturity of the baby, there may be little or no hope of the baby surviving. In these exceptional circumstances, it may be necessary to intervene to terminate the pregnancy to protect the life of the mother, while making every effort to preserve the life of the baby.

    The last sentence is illogical.

    • It just means “you can take the fetus out of the mother but you also have to throw it to NICU and do whatever you can to save it”, doesn’t it?

  • mpowell

    Why does Ireland suck so much?

    • Catholics? Or at least their hierarchy.

      • mpowell

        It is just weird that they have been willing to accept such a regressive culture for so long. The catholic hierarchy only has as much power as the people give them and it seems like Ireland is at least a full generation behind the rest of Europe on issues like this. The reputation of Irish-Americans would not imply a people so tied to such a conservative practice of religion, but I really just don’t know much about Ireland.

        • Lee

          The Irish have Catholicism imbued in their culture because of the long conflict with the UK. Its how they define themselves. It helped that Da Velara and more than a few other Irish nationalists were very devote Catholic. They kind enshrned Catholicism as part of society when crafting modern Ireland.

          The Polish also view Catholicism as part of their identity for somewhat simialr reasons to the Irish. Communist Poland had a higher rate of church attendance than many Western European countries.

        • Holden Pattern

          The decades (a century or more, I think) of outmigration speaks to Irish voting with their feet on the issue of how repressive they felt their society to be. Most migration was economically driven, to be sure, but note that mostly THEY DIDN’T COME BACK.

        • Jesse Ewiak

          It’s also important to point out that basically until really the late 70’s or early 80’s, the Catholic Church still had almost complete control of over the levels of power and culture within society.

          The shackles really didn’t fall until the 90’s when the economy began to turn around and society began to liberalize. But, the political parties were still scared of the power of the Church.

  • ck

    As a philosophy geek, I’ll try to argue that the moral failure of the Catholic position on this is not hatred of women per se, but embrace of a non-consequentialist system of ethics. Basically, the doctors had two options:

    1) Abort the baby. Consequences: mother lives, baby dies. Fault for baby’s death -> doctors. (Obviously the baby was not likely to live in any event, but if it hadn’t literally died yet, the abortion is the proximate cause of its death.)

    2) Do nothing. Consequences: uncertain. Fault for anyone’s death -> no one (it all just happens “naturally”).

    They chose #2 under a deontological ethics that says one’s duty is never to cause the death of an innocent person (through action rather than inaction). If your ethical theory doesn’t try to optimize outcomes, it’s not surprising that it will lead to bad ones.

    • It’s not optimization to get your heavenly reward?

      • bradP

        One cannot optimize one’s heavenly reward.

        • Malaclypse

          You are clearly unfamiliar with the less-well-known parts of Mormon theology.

          • the next Prescott Niles

            I initially read “parts” as “pants,” which of course works at least as well.

          • Chad

            Mormons have a theology????

        • Sure you can, if the Pope says so.

          You can also optimize someone else’s position by having them die well.

          • bradP

            Not really familiar with Catholicism, but my understanding of Heaven and Hell is that it is a with/without God dichotomy.

            In other words, Heaven is perfection, there is no room for better or worse.

            • A saint is better than a not-saint.

            • NonyNony

              But even in the case where the reward is fixed you can still optimize the expected value of your reward.

              And that’s what Christianity has been about since Paul went around promising celestial immortality in exchange for believing certain things – optimizing the probability that you’re going to be in that lucky group that gets that brass ring of immortality while everyone else suffers eternal torment by making sure you believe the right things.

            • DocAmazing

              You haven’t served your time in Purgatory yet.

        • Uncle Ebeneezer

          Well if the only possibilities are No Reward and Some Reward, then the latter would be optimal, no?

    • Anonymous

      “They don’t hate women, they just can’t be bothered” is not a defense, anymore.

      • ck

        Well, I wasn’t trying to defend them – that’s why I used the term “moral failure”. That said, your one-sentence summary isn’t quite accurate – it’s more like “They don’t care as much about who lives or dies as about whether or not it’s their fault.”

        • Lyanna

          In other words, they don’t hate me–they just care more about the supposed stain on their character from killing a fetus than they do about my life.

          Feels the same as hate, somehow.

        • Anonymous

          Well, that’s fine then because it’s their fault.

          I don’t know if you realized, but folk on this side of that great divide don’t give a shit what their reasons are. Stop saying it’s not misogyny. It’s fucking misogyny.

          • ck

            I agree that it’s their fault, but that’s because the consequences of their inaction were clearly foreseeable, and I’m a consequentialist. (Also because the decision should have been the woman’s, and not theirs, but that’s off the topic of this sub-thread.)

            We clearly do care about what their reasons are. Saying “it’s misogyny” is a direct claim about what their reasons are. And while there’s obviously a great deal of misogyny in Catholic doctrine generally and their abortion doctrine specifically, it’s not the whole story.

            Compare this with the Catholic (and conservative in general) position on assisted suicide, which has no gender angle that I’m aware of. There too, the opposition to allowing people to make their own life-and-death decisions comes down to ignoring the potential consequences (additional suffering) and focusing on the fault incurred by someone assisting in the act.

            • Anonymous

              It’s not “inaction.” It’s deliberate policy concerning access to a specific kind of birth control.

              Your being a “consequentialist” while ineptly wielding Philosophy to apologize for and minimize misogyny fails to impress. Don’t care about your justifications. Don’t care about your attempts to make this an academic matter. Fuck off.

              • ck

                Likewise, your childishness and insults don’t impress me either. Since our conversation isn’t productive, I’ll accept your offer to stop talking with you. Feel free to lob more insults if it makes you feel better, though.

                • Anonymous

                  Oh, I get it. This just a semantic issue for you, and I’m ruining all your self-professed philosophy geek fun by reminding you that it’s not about you, and real lives are at stake.

                  You are a man who’ll never have to worry about being murdered ‘cos you want to abort, and I claim my five pounds. Now you can fuck off.

                • Pro tip: “I don’t care! I don’t care! Fuck off!” is not really convincing.

                • Origami Isopod

                  Oooh, a tone argument. How dare those emotional females get uppity with you when you’re busy dispassionately splitting hairs over whether the powerful entities who don’t care if said females live or die are really misogynist or not.

                • Anonymous

                  joe once again demonstrating he’s very much a man of the (male) people.

              • Origami Isopod

                Thanks for your responses in this thread. I’m sick to death of this type of asshat, who gets sooooo offended (testerical, even) when all those irrational women or PoC or whatever have the nerve to point out that the issue at hand is more than his little intellectual parlor game.

                • Anonymous

                  Testerical is a good’un. I’ll borrow that next time, if I may?

                  And, yeah: mansplaining, whitesplaining bros in this thread very concerned about their own opinions, their own feelings, and little else.

                  It’s quite easy and maybe even a little amusing to behave so generously, open-mindedly, and willing to forgive when the misogynists aren’t actually out to gut you, personally.

                  Of course, manly rational thinking can whitewash just about anything, which is why winning this argument is so important to them.

                • Colin Day

                  Shouldn’t that be prostatical?

                • anonymous

                  Anon: “Testerical” isn’t my coinage. I’m not sure where it came from. Feel free to use it!

                  Colin Day: I don’t think so? The prostate’s job is to make the fluid that is the vehicle for sperm cells (as well as to provide pleasure). It’s not as central to the role of reproduction as the testes are, so the testes would be more analogous to the uterus.

                • Colin Day

                  Sorry, replying here because there isn’t a reply button on anonymous’s response to my post.

                  Hmm, I thought that the prostate was the male analog to the uterus, but it turns out it’s the male analog to Skene’s gland. Is there a male analog to the uterus?

            • CGDH

              “Saying “it’s misogyny” is a direct claim about what their reasons are.”

              Identifying a policy as misogynist is a claim about effect, not intent. You can’t do/say something racist and then wipe it away by saying, “Well, I didn’t intend to be racist, so my racist statement/action is not actually racist.” Same goes here.

              • ck

                Well, maybe we’re just using terms differently, then. I understood “misogyny” to mean “hatred of women”, “belief that women are inferior/should have fewer rights”, etc. That’s a description of intent, not just effect.

                • I think it’s important to point out that bad outcomes and policies can come from places other than conscious hatred.

                  It helps take the “I don’t hate anyone, so what I’m advocating can’t be racist/sexist/whatever” argument off the table.

                • ck

                  Yes, exactly. Abortion bans are extremely bad policy (for women especially, but not exclusively) regardless of whether they’re motivated by misogyny or not.

                • Anonymous

                  Abortion bans are extremely bad policy (for women especially, but not exclusively)

                  Fucking hell. You are so disgusting, dude. I don’t even want to know.

                • ck

                  I thought you wanted me to “fuck off”? Why are you still talking to me?

                  To tell you the answer you “don’t want to know”, the abortion ban in the Irish hospital was, in addition to being lethal for Mrs. Halappanavar, also devastating for Mr. Halappanavar, who just lost his wife. But perhaps he should just “fuck off” because he’s male and therefore not entitled to an opinion on the matter.

                • Anonymous

                  Yeah, I figured that’s what you meant. Fuck off.

                • I genuinely believe anti-choicers are motivated by misogyny. They may not know they’re misogynists, but a lot of racists also don’t think they’re racist.

                  It’s misogyny. Sorry.

        • Origami Isopod

          Let me guess, you’re a dude. This is all a fun little intellectual exercise for you, because you don’t have to worry about this shit personally.

    • mpowell

      I think at some level the distinction between consequentialism and non-consequentialism breaks down. What if your action is refusing to allow the women to transfer to another hospital? What if your action is not informing her that she would be advised to transfer? My view is that a pure non-consequentialist moral philosophy breaks down into incoherency in cases where the consequences for your actions are more deterministic and immediate. An example like this one kind of highlights that point.

      • ck

        That’s an interesting point.

        I think that while Catholic doctrine is that one has a duty not to participate in an abortion, there isn’t a corresponding duty to obstruct someone from getting an abortion (that’s my understanding, anyway – someone correct me if I’m wrong). So maybe a referral to another hospital wouldn’t violate their ethics. Of course, there’s no guarantee that the transfer could happen in time to save the patient’s life, either.

    • I can pretty much guarantee you have it backwards, and in fact they started with their conclusion (women should die horribly rather than abort) and argued backwards to find a rationalization for it. Here’s why I think that:


      TL;DR you can end a pregnancy without actually killing the fetus directly, by popping the umbilical cord. That reduces your choice to depriving either the fetus or the mother of resources, and in that case, the easy choice is the mother. But they choose “both die”, because they hate women and think suffering is holy.

      • ck

        I don’t find your argument very persuasive, to put it mildly. You’re assuming 1) the doctors knew of this technique, and 2) accepted the argument that the technique doesn’t constitute killing the fetus (even though you yourself say “Yes, the argument has a whiff of bullshit to it, because obviously, you’re taking actions that lead to its death”).

        The notion that the doctors wanted the woman to die is nuts. Why would they have transferred her to ICU after the fetus was removed? Was it all just a ruse? They planned all along to just watch her die? Come on now. What they actually did was bad enough.

        • I realize that your devotion to your argument isn’t going to bend to reason now, and that makes it clear that you really aren’t just so much mistaken about how they got here as you are eager to minimize their misogyny. But don’t hide that behind “philosophy geek”.

          Of course they want the woman die. They’re misogynists who believe in a church that a) worships martyrdom as a higher calling and b) claims across the board that a woman’s duty on earth is to sacrifice her life for her “children”. Believe you and me, you haven’t seen the disturbing propaganda I have that makes it practically a sacrament to have women die from childbirth. They love trading elaborate stories of women who, when faced with the choice of death or abortion, bravely chose death because it’s god’s will. The more suffering, the better. And if you don’t choose that, well, you’re a selfish mother.

          Considering that they also oppose contraception—even when it’s used to prevent the transmission of STDs—I think the notion that misogyny plays no role in this is, at best, laughable, and at worst, just excuse-making to prevent people from seeing misogyny for what it is.

          Also, you don’t have to pop the umbilical cord. In this woman’s case, there was time to induce labor, separate her from the fetus, and let god save the baby if he wanted to.

          • ck

            I realize that your devotion to your argument isn’t going to bend to reason now,

            In other words, you have no response to my question about why the doctors continued trying to save the woman’s life after the fetus was removed, and will instead insult me personally in the hope that no one notices your dodge.

            and that makes it clear that you really aren’t just so much mistaken about how they got here as you are eager to minimize their misogyny. But don’t hide that behind “philosophy geek”.

            Of course! I disagree with you about something, therefore I must be lying, and also evil. As long as you’re just making things up about me, surely you should mention all the women that I must have personally killed myself.

            the notion that misogyny plays no role in this is,

            …something I never claimed or argued.

            Anyway, I’ve been on the internet long enough to know that it’s a waste of time to argue with people who have no interest in honest discussion. Carry on as you like.

            • ema

              In other words, you have no response to my question about why the doctors continued trying to save the woman’s life after the fetus was removed….

              They didn’t “continue” anything. They didn’t render any care until the point of no return at which time they probably realized they could lose their licenses for incompetence and finally deigned to provide some care.

            • anonymous

              Soooooo much butthurt that she won’t play by your rules and insists on interrupting your neat little intellectual games with ugly reality and correct assessments of your character.

              Typical “philosophy geek,” though. I have no use for a mindset that values highly abstract “ideals” over lived experience — particularly the lived experience of anyone who isn’t a middle-class white man.

              • I wish misogyny weren’t so characteristic of US academic philosophy, but it sure is.

                I will add that ck’s original comment was incredibly crappy philosophy as well.

      • ck

        And btw, I do agree that a lot of Catholic doctrine regarding sex and pregnancy consists of rationalizations, not reasoning from first principles. And indeed it’s mostly reverse-engineered from a misogynistic view of women as baby-factories. It goes way too far, though, to say that that it starts with a desire for women to die.

        • Why not want to see women die? Their church is built on the idea of blood sacrifice to their higher principles. You’re not familiar with Catholicism, are you? They’re super big on the idea that dying to honor the faith is the Best Thing Ever.

          • JoyfulA

            Maria Goretti, patron saint of chastity, had a girls’ high school named after her in Philadelphia. So every day, the message was that your virginity is more important than your life.

        • Here you go. They sainted a woman who died—of sepsis—rather than have an abortion.


          In 1961, Gianna was pregnant once again. During the second month, Gianna developed a fibroma on her uterus. After examination, the doctors gave her three choices: an abortion, a complete hysterectomy, or removal of only the fibroma. The Catholic Church forbids all direct abortion even when the woman’s life is in danger, but Catholic teaching would have allowed her to undergo a hysterectomy, which would have resulted in her unborn child’s death as an unintended consequence.
          “Abortion – that is, the directly intended termination of pregnancy before viability or the directly intended destruction of a viable fetus – is never permitted…Operations, treatments, and medications that have as their direct purpose the cure of a proportionately serious pathological condition of a pregnant woman are permitted when they cannot be safely postponed until the unborn child is viable, even if they will result in the death of the unborn child.” – The Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services (ERD) Directive 45
          Gianna opted for the removal of the fibroma, wanting to preserve her child’s life.
          After the operation, complications continued throughout her pregnancy. Gianna was quite clear about her wishes, expressing to her family, “This time it will be a difficult delivery, and they may have to save one or the other — I want them to save my baby.”
          On April 21, 1962, Good Friday of that year, Gianna went to the hospital, where her fourth child, Gianna Emanuela, was successfully delivered via Caesarean section.[1] However, Gianna continued to have severe pain, and died of septic peritonitis 7 days after the birth.

          They claim that she performed a miracle in keeping the baby alive when doctors said she and the baby were both going to die. Basically, they do believe that if a woman bravely chooses to die rather than have an abortion, god will do her family a solid and give them the baby in thanks. Which is so much better than the mother, cause now you can just remarry and get another one.

        • Oh, here’s another one!


          In 2010, Chiara became pregnant for the third time, and according to doctors the child was developing normally. However, Chiara was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer and was advised to begin receiving treatment that would have posed a risk to her pregnancy.

          Chiara decided to protect the baby – named Francisco – and opted to forgo treatment until after his birth, which took place on May 30, 2011.

          Her cancer quickly progressed and eventually she lost sight in one eye. After a year-long battle Chiara died on June 13, surrounded by her loved ones and convinced that she would be reunited with her two children in heaven.

          “I am going to heaven to take care of Maria and David, you stay here with Dad. I will pray for you,” Chiara said in a letter for Francisco that she wrote one week before her death.[…]

          Chiara’s husband, Enrico, said he experienced “a story of love on the cross.” Speaking to Vatican Radio, he said that they learned from their three children that there is no difference in a life that lasts 30 minutes or 100 years.

          He’s so stoked that his wife died! It’s really sickening, but it’s being held up as a standard for all women.

    • Sorry, (and sorry I didn’t read through the long threads to see if this has been said before), but this isn’t a very good analysis. It’s not hard to come up with a deontological theory that wouldn’t have sanctioned the neglect. Thus it’s not the embrace of a deontological theory per se, but the embrace of a crappy deontological theory. In particular, a misogynist one.

      (And, come on, the failures of naive consequentialism are well known and I’m sure you don’t want me to secretly harvest your organs to save 5 other people.)

      BTW, it’s probably better to act in such a way that people end up calling you a philosophy geek rather than claiming one up front and making a comment that casts doubt upon that claim.

    • Josh G.

      They chose #2 under a deontological ethics that says one’s duty is never to cause the death of an innocent person (through action rather than inaction). If your ethical theory doesn’t try to optimize outcomes, it’s not surprising that it will lead to bad ones.

      But where are they getting those ethics from? It certainly doesn’t seem to square with the portrayal of Jesus in the New Testament. Mark 2:23-27 (“The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath”) clearly portrays Jesus embracing consequentalist ethics. It was the Pharisees who argued that Christ shouldn’t heal people on the Sabbath because it was against the law (Mark 3:1-6). And that wasn’t even an emergency situation (the man had a shriveled hand, it could have waited a day). Letting a woman die because The Law says so is deeply and profoundly anti-Christian.

  • Uncle Ebeneezer

    This pretty much sums up why religious institutions should not be allowed to run hospitals. Any place where Dogma supersedes the Hippocratic oath, should not be entrusted with the health and lives of others. Human sacrifice in the digital age. Sad.

    • Chad


    • Joey Maloney

      From the original Oath of Hippocrates:

      I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody if asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect. Similarly I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy.

      So maybe not the best rhetorical pole to balance that arguement on.

      • ajay

        That’s not the version generally used these days, though.

        Similarly, most doctors today don’t hold their university lecturer in such high esteem that they swear “to hold him who has taught me this art as equal to my parents and to live my life in partnership with him, and if he is in need of money to give him a share of mine, and to regard his offspring as equal to my brothers in male lineage and to teach them this art – if they desire to learn it – without fee and covenant…”

        See here for a more modern example:http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1121898/

        • Colin Day

          Not the version of what used nowadays? That isn’t the Hippocratic Oath.

    • Colin Day

      The Hippocratic Oath is also anti-abortion.

      From Hippocratic Oath

      Similarly I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy.

  • David Mathias

    Pro-life in this case means 2.5 days for the fetus, after the woman went to the hospital and before the fetus actually died, and death for the woman.
    I can think of better ways to respect life.

  • smith

    Isn’t this same sequence of events likely to happen in this country in regions where the only hospital is a Catholic one?

  • NZT

    Nice posting. Thanks for shearing.

    • Mickey Kaus

      Thanks for shearing.

      I am interested in your spam website, and wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

      • Left_Wing_Fox

        What do they think we are, sheep?

        • Fluffy

          The shearing isn’t so bad, its the sheep dip that is a real pain.

          • Bruce

            No worries, Bruce is in charge of the sheep dip.

            • Bruce


  • Lee

    I’m going to just say that hospitals should not be run by private organizations, whether secular or religious, for profit or not for profit. Its just too risky and too many bad things could happen. Hospitals should be owned and operated by the government.

    This won’t necessarily prevent incidents like the above from happening, especially if the government operate on some form of conservative malice but its a better safeguard than allowing private hospitals.

    Yes, I know we won’t get mass public ownership of hospitals in the United States anytime soon.

    • Linnaeus

      Well, that’s just socialist talk there.

      • Lee

        To be fair, it is socialist because I am advocating government ownership of one means of production. I suppose some socialists might argue for hospitals to be run by cooperatives but I don’t know efficient this will be.

    • mpowell

      I think it would be a lot easier to just pass laws regarding standards of care. That actually works when the potential penalty is loosing your license to practice medicine.

      • LeeEsq

        Too much of a chance for misguided “civil disobedience” by wing nuts. I’d prefer something less likely to lead that situation.

    • DocAmazing

      As someone who works in a private hosptial (that was previously a religious hospital), I must agree.

    • Observer

      Hospitals should be owned and operated by the government.

      Think DMV
      Think Veterans Hospitals

      And then tell me you *really* want a government hospital when you need a critical surgery.

      • Do you not know that public hospitals exist?

        • Malaclypse

          I think, actually, that it seems safe to assume that Observer does not know that Great Britain exists.

      • jefft452

        “Think DMV”

        I don’t know why wingnuts believe that all Americans believe that the DMV is some sort of arcane wasteful bureaucracy, I seem to be able to register a car and renew my license without much trouble,
        but yeah, you’re right, I wouldn’t want DMV clerks to perform surgery in their down time

        • When Mitt Romney was Governor of Massachusetts, his administration reformed the RMV (as we call it heah) and really turned them around. They offer very good service.

          Too bad Mittens was forbidden from bragging about that, or any other actual accomplishment in office, by his tea bagger base’s insistence that no positive word about government services ever be spoken. If not for such delusional pressure, you might not have to suffer through another four years of the Kenyan Islamist destroying your country and leering at your daughters. Now you’ll never take your country back. Oops.

      • prufrock

        Think DMV
        Think Veterans Hospitals

        I received chemotherapy from a VA hospital. Thanks to the VA, I’m still alive nearly seventeen years later, without incurring crushing debt (I was a broke college student).

        Your statements don’t mean what you think they mean.

        • JL

          The VA is good at a lot of things. Unfortunately, according to a female veteran of my acquaintance who has extensive first-hand experience with this, they blow at treating rape-related trauma.

          Not meant to slag on the VA in general, I just felt like I should mention that complication in a thread that is about the War on Women.

          • That should be noted and fixed if true but I’d hazard a guess that the problem is not unique to the VA.

      • People who get their medical coverage from the VA report much higher levels of satisfaction with their health care than people who use private insurance and private hospitals.

        Ditto for people who get their medical care through the military.

      • LeeEsq

        Yeah, the problem is that I’ve never had a problem at the DMV and that most veterans seem to like veteran’s hospitals and the entire VA system. Most senior citizens like medicare in case you didn’t know.

        • JoyfulA

          Yes, the Pennsylvania DMV is terrific; they even tried very hard when Governor Corbett wanted them to process a million nondriving driver’s license IDs in a few months so his voter-stomping scheme could work.

          And I have frequently been surprised by veterans insisting on a VA hospital or other VA care facility when from a practical standpoint the choice didn’t make sense to me.

          We need bad examples that aren’t actually good examples.

      • anonymous

        LOLZ… all the wingnut talking points.

        The DMV is actually not that bad anymore. I wonder if you simply dislike it because they hire all those icky blahs.

  • ironic irony

    This is absolutely disgusting.

  • Observer

    1)Ireland is a sovereign nation and has little to do with US law.

    2) It’d be really nice if you would include a link to the actual bill instead of a radical feminist’s biased assessment of said bill.

    Your readers are supposed to be sophisticated enough to make their own characterizations.

    Page three of this nine page bill has all of the exceptions for rape, incest or risk to the mother.


    It just drives me crazy when you deliberately allow weirdos to skew the truth like that.

    • It would be a good idea to read that PDF you’re offering and then compare it to what was written.

    • Malaclypse

      2) It’d be really nice if you would include a link to the actual bill instead of a radical feminist’s biased assessment of said bill.

      It’s be really nice if you could discuss said bias, rather than simply saying Amanda Marcotte! Amanda Marcotte! Amanda Marcotte!

      She’s never going to fuck you, by the way.

    • Observer

      A) if the pregnancy is the result of an
      act of rape or incest; or
      (B) in the case where a pregnant female
      suffers from a physical disorder, physical injury, or physical illness that would, as certified by a physician, place the female in danger of death unless an abortion is performed, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself.”

      Most everyone except for the radicals would find these the reasonable exceptions that they’ve been calling for and not the cartoon of the opposition painted by the political interests for their agenda.

      • Once again: read what you linked. Compare it to what’s above.

      • ema

        Just because you happen to be a sadist doesn’t mean that the delight you take in pain and suffering is good public health policy.

        There is nothing reasonable about withholding medical care from patients until they become unstable enough to expire.

        In fact, the entire practice of medicine is based on the “do whatever it takes to prevent patients from reaching death’s door” principle.

      • anonymous

        I say to you again: It’s soooo “radical,” insisting that women get to decide what happens to our own bodies instead of letting men, especially old celibate men, decide. Especially when they decide that it’s fine if we go blind, become paralyzed, become incontinent, become infertile, just so long as we don’t die.

    • njorl

      So, if a fetus is non-viable and can not be brought to term, and a woman is in agony but not yet in danger of death, she can’t have an abortion.

      That is exactly the situation discussed in the link.

      She did not have a life threatening condition until she was essentially doomed. She had a health-threatening condition. If she were in a US hospital, dependent on federally funded health care, subject to the bill you quoted, she would die in agony.

      Only a heartless, misogynistic barbarian would refuse to allow an exception for the health of the mother. Restricting the limitation to the life of the mother is evil.

    • jefft452

      “Page three of this nine page bill has all of the exceptions for rape, incest or risk to the mother.”

      yet the mother is dead

      the practical effect of illegal except for rape incest or life of the mother is always illegal even if rape incest or life of the mother

      There is always somebody to say it isn’t “legitimate rape”, we don’t know for sure its your uncles baby, we don’t know if your life is at risk until after you are dead

      • jefft452

        I would go further and say that in Ireland’s case, abortion is ONLY illegal in cases of rape, incest, or life of the mother

        The “pro-life” stereotype of Jezebel McSlutty, who worries that pregnancy would mean that she didn’t look sexy in a bathing suit, can hop a ferry to Liverpool and get her frequent customer discount at babykillers-r-us

        Madonna Goodmother who goes to the ER with life threatening complication in her wanted pregnancy is effectively trapped

        • rea

          in Ireland’s case, abortion is ONLY illegal in cases of rape, incest, or life of the mother

          Nope, no rape or incest exception

    • bradP

      Page three of this nine page bill has all of the exceptions for rape, incest or risk to the mother.

      From what I understand, she started having severe pain from complications with the pregnancy. Because the doctors refused to terminate the pregnancy, her condition got worse until she developed septicemia.

      Septicemia has a very high mortality rate, even with treatment.

      So basically, the refusal to terminate the pregnancy resulted in the woman developing an infection that killed her.

      There is a direct, obvious path from the abortion ban to the death of the woman, and that is the cost of all abortion bans. If you make it harder for women to obtain abortions, you kill women.

    • anonymous

      I’d say the actual “weirdo” here is the misogynist POS who thinks it’s OK to let women suffer grotesquely so long as we don’t actually die.

      As for “radical feminist,” it has an actual meaning, and that meaning is not “woman who makes my pee-pee shrivel because she won’t smile prettily and do anything I tell her to.”

  • ck

    In other words, they don’t hate me–they just care more about the supposed stain on their character from killing a fetus than they do about my life.


    • ck

      Whoops, this should have been a reply to a comment above.

    • CaptBackslap

      It seems fair to say that non-consequentialist ethical systems are primarily concerned with avoiding feelings of guilt (and/or fear of hellfire). Everything else is window dressing.

      Of course, many (most?) deontological dictums started out as simple consequentialist rules of thumb, which is a reminder to be vigilant. It’s really easy to slide into what Clive James called “sclerotic orthodoxy,” even if your intentions remain reasonable.

      • ck

        I agree entirely with both of these points.

      • Karen

        In law, failing to consider and try to avoid “foreseeable” damage is negligence and grounds for damages. In the Catholic Church, it’s commendable morality and acting in a reasonable manner is a mortal sin. I think I see how the abuse scandal happened.

    • Lyanna

      I don’t know if you missed the bitter irony there, or you’re just replying to me “straight” because that’s what philosophy geeks do.

      But either way, I’ll clarify my point: there’s no effective difference between hate and prioritizing some “stain” on their soul over my life. Those amount to the same thing.

      I think the distinction you’re drawing between “misogyny” and the sort of masturbatory moral hair-splitting that the Catholic Church engages in, at women’s expense, is itself hair-splitting.

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  • Bill Door

    Why not just baptise the fetus, empower the doctor to hold a 30-second trial and convict the zygote of the attempted murder of its mother, and execute it?

    Pseudo-Xian regard for Life? Check
    Tough on crime? Check

  • Sly

    Also, too, the Dominican Republic:

    The mother of a Dominican teenage girl is accusing doctors of not putting her daughter’s health first after the girl died when her body failed to respond to chemotherapy. The treatment was delayed over fears it would abort the girl’s pregnancy.

    The 16-year-old girl, whose name has not been officially disclosed, grabbed the world’s attention after doctors dragged out her leukemia treatment because of an abortion ban provided by the Dominican Republic’s Constitution.

    The Constitution states “the right to life is inviolable from the moment of conception and until death,” which is interpreted quite straightforwardly in courts.

    Diagnosed with acute leukemia, the girl was admitted to Semma Hospital in Santo Domingo, but had to wait some 20 days for treatment – doctors feared beginning aggressive chemotherapy as radiation could have aborted the pregnancy.

    Finally, they gave in Tuesday, public pressure increasing.

    Friday, the girl died.

    And there was this travesty in 2009, when a the mother of a Brazilian 9-year old, who was raped by her step-father, consented to her daughter having an abortion and was excommunicated (along with the doctors) while the stepfather was allowed to remain in the church:

    Jose Cardoso Sobrinho, the conservative regional archbishop for Pernambuco where the girl was rushed to hospital, has said that the man would not be thrown out of the Church, because although he had allegedly committed “a heinous crime”, the Church took the view that “the abortion, the elimination of an innocent life, was more serious”.

    This is a form of mental illness brought about by absurd religious doctrines corrupting a person’s ordinary ethical intuitions.

    • Yes. There was a time when I thought the anti-choicers were merely wrong but well-intentioned (well, excluding the clinic bombers and such from that second part). Now I think they’re far more barbaric than that which they imagine themselves to be defending against.

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