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Sat May 14, 2022, 01:05 PM

Killed by abortion laws: five women whose stories we must never forget

Killed by abortion laws: five women whose stories we must never forget

Savita Halappanavar, ‘Izabela’, ‘Manuela’ and Olga Reyes: four women who fell victim to their countries’ anti-abortion laws. Composite: PA; AP; Reuters; Getty

As the US supreme court threatens to undo 49 years of access to safe and legal terminations, five women who died because of bans on abortion stand as warnings of what is at stake globally

Savita Halappanavar, Ireland

Savita Halappanavar was 31 years old when she died of blood poisoning nearly a week after she arrived at University Hospital Galway (UHG) in Ireland complaining of intense back pain. Halappanavar, a dentist from Karnataka, in south-west India, was 17 weeks pregnant with her first child and went to hospital with her husband, Praveen, on Sunday 21 October 2012. Within hours, doctors said a miscarriage was inevitable, even though a foetal heartbeat could be heard. By this point, Halappanavar was in “unbearable” pain and “very upset”, according to healthcare staff. The plan was, she was told, to “wait and see” if she would miscarry naturally. At the time, Irish law stated that abortions were permitted only if there was a “real and substantive” threat to a woman’s life. By Tuesday, there had been no miscarriage. The couple asked whether one could be induced but were told by the doctor: “Under Irish law, if there’s no evidence of risk to the life of the mother, our hands are tied so long as there’s a foetal heart[beat].” Halappanavar developed a high fever. On the Wednesday morning, the medical team diagnosed infection and, later, septic shock. Her condition was deteriorating rapidly.
. . .

Family members hold photos of Olga Reyes, a 22-year-old law student who died of an untreated ectopic pregnancy in Nicaragua in 2007. Photograph: Esteban Félix/AP
Olga Reyes, Nicaragua

Olga Reyes, 22, waited in pain for hours at the hospital ward in 2006. She had already been turned away from one hospital but arrived at the next one with the proof that she needed urgent care: an ultrasound scan from a private clinic that showed an ectopic pregnancy was rupturing her fallopian tube.The fertilised egg had implanted itself outside her womb and the embryo, at about six weeks old, could not survive but was threatening her life: Reyes was bleeding to death. Doctors delayed treatment, fearful of the repercussions of the ban on therapeutic abortions that had been introduced only months earlier, in November 2006. By the time they took Reyes for surgery it was too late. The 22-year-old law student, who had celebrated her wedding only two months earlier, suffered repeated heart attacks during the operation and died from cerebral arrest due to haemorrhaging.

. . . . .

People protest at the death of Izabela, a 30-year-old Polish woman killed by abortion laws. Photograph: Dawid Żuchowicz/Reuters
‘Izabela’, Poland

The morning before her death, Izabela* texted her mother from the hospital. “The child weighs 485g. For now, because of the abortion law, I have to stay in bed and they can’t do anything,” she wrote. “They will wait for the baby to die or for something to start happening. If it doesn’t then great, I can expect sepsis.” Izabela, 30, owned a hair salon in Pszczyna, a small town in Silesia. On her Instagram account Pani Iza, as she was known to customers, would regularly post photos of her influencer-worthy wedding coiffures and hair transformation. Her clients did not spare compliments. “The best hairdresser in the world, you can see that she loves her job,” reads one of the last online reviews dated June 2021, a month before Izabela died. “Thanks to her, I went from black to blonde and my hair survived!”
. . . . .

Manuela, a Salvadorian woman who was sentenced to 30 years for murder after she miscarried. She died in prison. Photograph: Marvin Recinos/AFP/Getty
‘Manuela’, El Salvador

Manuela*, a mother of two from El Salvador, did what most people would do when she fell ill while pregnant in 2008: she went to hospital. Tragically, she miscarried, but instead of medical and social support, she was handcuffed to her hospital bed and interrogated by police. Manuela, 33, whose full name has never been made public, was charged with aggravated homicide under El Salvador’s draconian anti-abortion laws, and sentenced to 30 years in prison. She died of cancer two years later – a disease that activists say was ignored and left untreated during her incarceration. “The stories of women in El Salvador who have been unjustly criminalised for experiencing obstetric emergencies, as happened to Manuela, should also serve as a global example of the terrible consequences of criminal restrictions on access to a service such as abortion,” says Carmen Martínez, an associate director in Latin

. . . .

A family planning clinic in Nairobi’s Kibera slum in Kenya, where a third of maternal deaths are estimated to be as a result of unsafe abortions. Photograph: Baz Ratner/Reuters
‘Mildred’, Kenya

Mildred* was a 15-year-old girl from Manyani estate in the Kenyan city of Nakuru. She was admitted at the Nakuru Level 5 hospital last summer with acute abdominal pains and uncontrollable vomiting. She died writhing in pain, 20 weeks into a pregnancy she had tried and failed to end using herbs and salt. Her anguished father, David, explained that the family did not know about her pregnancy. Mildred had travelled to the family’s rural home in Bungoma, where, her family believe, she tried to end the pregnancy with the help of an older woman she knew there. “I did not know that my daughter attempted to terminate her pregnancy using a mixture of herbs, concentrated drinks and salt, a secret she kept close to her heart,” her father says. “I wish my daughter had accessed a safer abortion … terminating the pregnancy was a better option to her happiness than trading her life with herbs that caused her infection and painful death,” he says.

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Reply Killed by abortion laws: five women whose stories we must never forget (Original post)
niyad Saturday OP
Freddie Saturday #1
niyad Saturday #2

Response to niyad (Original post)

Sat May 14, 2022, 01:30 PM

1. Horribly tragic

Where’s the American stories? I’m sure there have been more than a few at Catholic hospitals. Or Texas.

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Response to Freddie (Reply #1)

Sat May 14, 2022, 01:39 PM

2. Gerri Santoro, for one.

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