Tuesday, November 20, 2012

P.Z. Myers: "Shut 'em down... It's time to abort the Catholic Church"

P.Z. Myers on the tragic deaths of Savita Halappanavar and her child in Ireland:

Bloody butchers and pious toads who mask their medieval ignorance with a pretense of charity and care; it’s long past time to end the illusion and recognize the barbarism of the church. Shut ‘em down.
The latest victim in over a millennium of Catholic abuse is Savita Halappanavar, a young woman who was 17 weeks pregnant when her condition began to deteriorate. She went to a Catholic hospital, a fatal mistake.
…she was miscarrying, and after one day in severe pain, Ms Halappanavar asked for a medical termination.
This was refused, he says, because the foetal heartbeat was still present and they were told, “this is a Catholic country”.
She spent a further 2½ days “in agony” until the foetal heartbeat stopped.
She was clearly miscarrying, she was fully dilated and leaking amniotic fluid, and it was obvious to all, including the doctors at the hospital, that this pregnancy was doomed — there was no hope for the fetus at all. Yet they refused to do the one simple, ethical procedure that would have saved Halappanavar’s life.
...Because it was a fucking Catholic hospital in a Catholic country.
Because doctors had been indoctrinated since childhood in lies that were shown to be false during their medical training, but which they could not overcome; because hospital administrators put their faith above their obligation to serve patients; because lawmakers in that country shied away from learning how their policies killed women; because a mob of celibate old puppetmasters don’t give a damn about anything other than their theology and will happily sacrifice human beings on the altar of their vile and backward religion.
The end result: a septicemic infection swept through the gaping wound of Halappanavar’s cervix, killing her, after days of agony. The pope and his bishops, and the faithful Catholics in that hospital, killed her as surely as if they’d taken a scalpel to her throat — which would have been a more merciful death than the misery they put her through.
Monsters, every one of them.
Seriously, shut them down. There is no acceptable reason that any hospital in anycountry should be shackled by the antiquated beliefs of Catholicism. Catholics should no more be permitted to manage hospitals than Jehovah’s Witnesses are permitted to regulate blood transfusions. We are talking about simple, routine procedures that could save lives that are disallowed by a church. What are they doing in the surgery in the first place?
... Fuck the Catholic church. Empty every pew, loot every coffer, disband every level of the hierarchy, take all their property and turn it over to secular authorities to be managed ethically and rationally.
And if you’re still attending church…what the hell is wrong with you?

Of course, it's not clear at all that the tragic deaths of Ms. Halappanavar and her child are the result of a hesitation to abort her child. The most likely source of the infection is chorioamnionitis, which is traditionally treated by antibiotics, and not necessarily by abortion or delivery of the child.

Delivery of the child may be indicated, but delivery of the fetus-- even a pre-viable fetus- in order to save the mother is licit by Catholic ethical teaching:

"… if, for example, the saving of the life of the future mother, independently of her pregnant condition, should urgently require a surgical act or other therapeutic treatment which would have as an accessory consequence, in no way desired nor intended, but inevitable, the death of the fetus, such an act could no longer be called a direct attempt on an innocent life. Under these conditions the operation can be lawful, like other similar medical interventions – granted always that a good of high worth is concerned, such as life, and that it is not possible to postpone the operation until after the birth of the child, nor to have recourse to other efficacious remedies.”

Myers of course won't let his ignorance of the medical issues and his ignorance of Catholic moral teaching get in the way of his incitement to an anti-Catholic pogram.

The irony in Myers' manipulation of this tragedy is that there are reports that Ms. Halappanavar did not recieve antibiotics for several days, which, if true, would be a serious deviation from good medical care and would have contributed in a major way to her death.

If one is to attribute these tragic deaths to systematic poor medical care, the Irish socialized medical system would seem to be a more likely suspect than the Catholic Church.

Myers, of course, is a vehement proponent of socialized medicine.


  1. Everyone knows that Catholics are never to blame for anything. Any tragedy is always the fault of liberals and socialists.

  2. Michael,

    Well, you don't usually develop chorioamnionitis de nova. The most probable scenario is that she had a threatened abortion which then became inevitable, and then she developed chorioamnionitis as an ascending infection from the vagina.

    Agreed. Surgical evacuation of the uterus wasn't mandatory while it was a threatened or an inevitable abortion, and there's arguments for letting nature take its course, since surgical evacuation might lead to intrauterine adhesions, complicating future pregnancies.

    But once she developed chorioamnionitis, she needed antibiotics followed by rapid delivery of the fetus (because antibiotics won't get into the membranes and amniotic fluid in adequate amounts to treat the infection - let alone the problem that the choice of antibiotics is very much an educated guess).

    Until more details are revealed, it's not certain whether the medical care was substandard. I suspect delivery was delayed too long after infection occurred.

    Agreed. It has nothing to do with Ireland's ban on induced abortions. And also, I wouldn't be asking PZ for medical advice.

    If you're claiming that Ireland's 'socialised' health care is the cause of this unfortunate death, then you should also agree that it's also responsible for Ireland having a lower maternal mortality than America (6 versus 8 per 100,000), and hence America's lack of 'socialised' healthcare is the cause of unnecessary maternal deaths.

  3. None of the particulars in this case change the fact that the abortion ban plank of the Republican platform does not include an exception for the life of the mother.


    1. The particulars in this case demonstrate that abortion-mongers will use the death of innocents to their personal advantage.

      The Republican platform also failed to include a provision that would allow a dying mother to kill her child to use his organs for transplant.

      Republicans are so yesterday.

  4. PZ never ceases to amaze.
    I see this whole issue as being a pathetic attempt to politicize the abortion issue in Ireland. They already have rules in place to protect a woman during a potentially fatal pregnancy. That is simply not the issue. The issue is whether these rules where followed.
    I think both Dr Egnor and Bach have hit the nail on the head when they question the delay in administering medications and treatment.
    Catholicism and socialized medicine are not the issue here, so far as I can see. Incompetent or mistaken physicians/carers may be the key.

  5. That PZ Myers is saying ridiculous things isn't exactly news. That you're still spending time reading them is either dedication to the cause or extreme masochism.