Thursday, November 15, 2012

Yet another reason to despise religion

I had planned for this post to be a follow up to my previous one, a further investigation of the presuppostional argument. I had it all worked out in my head and ready to go. Then, this happened:

My reaction was... no, strike that, my reaction is raw and visceral. And while I’ve never been given to physical violence, this news has me seeing red.

What the actual fuck!? Events like these leave me questioning my humanity, because I can not see how someone belonging to the same species could act in such a cruel and callous manner. How can anyone, let alone a medical professional, stand by and let someone suffer and die when actions could have been taken to prevent it?

The answer, of course, is religion. Not the poor woman’s religion, mind you. She had come to terms with the fact that she was miscarrying and asked that she be induced to end the pregnancy. The doctors and nurses, on the other hand, they were good Catholics, and so long as there was a fetal heartbeat, they could not terminate. It did not matter that the baby would not survive, as the doctors well knew, so long as the heart beat, their hands were tied. It was, after all, the law of the land.

Except it wasn’t. While abortion remains illegal in Ireland under most circumstances, there is an exception when the mother’s life is in danger.  This should have been an easy decision: the fetus would not survive and leaving it to deteriorate inside Savita would expose her to serious risk of infection. Terminating the pregnancy in such a case seems like a no brainer.

Somehow, though, no one on the hospital staff could make that decision. Because of their religion. Because they believe in an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-good deity.  Because they believed that up until the moment that fetal heartbeat stopped, their beneficent god could have miraculously made everything right again.

This is the corrosive nature of religion. It twists empathy and compassion to the point that a terminal fetus is more important than the woman carrying it. It gambles on miracles and leaves us with dead bodies where there should be live ones. It allows wishful thinking to become an acceptable substitute for actual work. It stops people from working on real-world solutions to problems in anticipation of some hypothetical perfect one. Worst of all, it tries to tell us that this is a good thing.

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