It’s been all over the news as of late - a young woman dying in an Irish hospital because doctors refused to administer an abortion. In case you haven’t been keeping up, the basics are that the woman was suffering from blood poisoning and tried to get an abortion due to her failing health. Unfortunately, Ireland has some of the strictest laws when it comes to abortion and so the doctors denied her. She finally ended up having a miscarriage and then the doctors removed the dead fetus, but it was by that time too late. Her health had become so bad that she eventually succumbed and died.
Laws in Ireland permit the use of abortion when a mother’s life is at stake, but doctors are still reluctant to do it and potentially get themselves in hot water. There is also the matter of religious orientation to consider, as well as potential “damage” to a doctor’s reputation should people find out and think that they’re performing abortions without cause. In this case, the call may have been made in the wrong way, and for that the doctors responsible may suffer, but the incident brings more to light than simple doctor accountability.
The mother of the dead woman made a certain point about her daughter being Hindu and the fact that the laws are based in Christian ideology. She believes that Hindus should not be subject to these laws if they are not in line with their religion. The first part of her statement is certainly true - most abortion laws are in place because of a predominant religion taking hold of the legal system via popular support. But can laws be properly made if they have to cater to all religions? Does that remove the majority rule nature of democracy?
If that’s the case, then being denied an abortion can potentially be viewed as a form of religious discrimination. That’s a huge can of worms that could undermine every law in existence. But perhaps it is also something that people need to think about more with regards to creating and implementing new laws and reforming old ones.
In the end, it’s just one more complicated issue in the abortion debate, albeit a potential win for those on the side of pro-abortion. A more secular view of the debate may help us to better define when it is and isn’t appropriate to allow an abortion. There are already laws in place to prevent late-term abortions, but more steps need to be taken to ensure that women have proper access. This may, in the end, rely on us being able to put religion aside, an unlikely event even in the most secular of countries.