independent

Wednesday 3 September 2014

No respect shown to Savita's family

FR BRIAN WHELAN

Published 29/11/2012 | 08:58

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THE FURORE in the news at the moment about the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar keeps gathering momentum every day.

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The circumstances of her illness and death along with that of her unborn child are the subject of proposed enquiries and investigations, which will most likely be ongoing for the next number of months if not years.

For that reason, and out of respect for the dignity of the people involved I don't want to rehash the story here. However, in saying that, I think it must be pointed out that it is nothing short of disgusting how this unfortunate story was revealed and how it has been fodder for media, commentators, politicians and pressure groups.

The dignity that any of us would expect to be afforded in a time of grief and loss has not been afforded to the family involved. Microphones and television cameras have been too eagerly shoved in front of people without any hesitation. To use the tragic death of anyone as a ' political football' is not worthy of anyone, especially those who are crying out for justice and for truth.

The fact of the matter is that the full story and circumstances have not yet been revealed, and yet too many people have been extremely quick to rush to judgment and to rush to making conclusions and apportioning blame.

I wonder how many of those who are advocating immediate action on that Grand Chamber judgment, actually read the judgment published in December 2010 in full? I have read it. I read it about a month ago for a research paper, and it runs to 88 pages, including the concurring and dissenting opinions.

From reading the judgment, and from reading opinion pieces and commentary from those who are making most noise about this current case in Ireland, it is quite obvious that those who are shouting loudest have not read it. It is being used as a political football too, and it seems that the truth is only incidental.

I would suggest anyone who is interested enough in what the judgment has to actually say, should read it. Until they do so, they should keep their counsel. And by the way, it's not just the pro-choice side who were playing political football, those on the pro-life side were every bit as excited to get stuck into the saga. There are very few innocents here. Let us not forget that Mr Halappanavar is a man who has suffered a tremendous loss, not just the loss of Savita, but also of their unborn child. It takes a long time for the wounds of such a loss to heal, and even then the scars still remain.

I have no doubt that there are many people around the country today who have felt that loss themselves, and perhaps even the loss of both mother and child as in this situation, and for whom the media circus and the ensuing farce that is unfolding in the public domain is stirring up painful feelings, and reopening old wounds. Have we stopped for even a moment to think of them?

While this case might be of serious importance, and while lessons are to be learned, and mistakes of the past must never be repeated, there is surely also something deeper involved here, something that strikes at the core of our humanity. Where is ordinary common decency?

Surely we are not that unfeeling and that blind to tragedy that we must jump in with our tuppence worth, irrespective of how insensitive we might be to others' pain?

We should keep the Halappanavars in our thoughts and in our prayers, along with all who have lost loved ones, including those unborn, in similar tragic circumstances. And until the full facts have been made known maybe we could tone down the rhetoric a little? Ordinary common decency demands at least that much.

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