Denial of medical termination of pregnancy of a woman whose death appears imminent, in the name of religion, is the worst example of violation of human rights. It is outrageous, anachronistic, outdated to do so. In an age of great human achievements in all field, such practices defame religion and religious practices. A woman has every right to life and no religion can deprive her of it- not even the Talibans. The Talibans have earned enough notoriety for themselves largely because of their treatment of women and violence. Ireland has set no better example. The European press and media has no right to decry only the Taliban and not Ireland. Ireland is further aggravating the crime by its doctors by delaying condemnation of such a barbaric practice and punishment to those prescribing it and those practicing it.
Women in pregnancy are treated very kindly in all cultured human societies. Family, friends, society and government happily extend all necessary help to a pregnant woman. To do anything otherwise is inhuman and hence disapproved. It falls outside normal human behaviour. Had this tragedy taken place outside the hospital and care of qualified medical practitioners, there would have been some mitigating circumstances. But for such things to happen in a hospital under the care of doctors, and that too in the name of religion is outright inhuman. What is religion if it fails the test of being human? Violence is opposed by all sections of society everywhere on Earth when religion tries to validate it in its name!
What defines human rights? Nothing fits the definition of human rights better than the formulation by the great Hindi poet Tulsidas in another context. It can be formulated as follows: Human Rights are those rights that are available to all, all the time, in all the countries (Sabhi sulabh sab din sab desaa). Accordingly, human rights are normally available to all human beings all the time anywhere in the world. The word Sulabh, which I am rendering in English as “normally” in the absence of a better translation available for the moment, needs to be specially noted. Availability of such rights normally in any country is an indication of the cultural values in practice in that country. It needs to be emphasised that the antonym of the word “sulabh” is “durlabh”, which translates to “rarely”, meaning that which is rarely available. Human rights are normally, and not rarely, available to everyone all the time all over the globe! Citizen rights are enforceable through the courts of law, but human rights draw their authority more from morals and values in practice in a society. The golden period of any society is that when it valued human rights more than anything else. Hasn’t religion helped the growth of human rights? Who has promoted the value of “milk of human kindness”? The United Nations, the United States or Ireland or their laws? The best religions, to be sure. On their way, religions took diversions and allowed inhuman practices like discrimination against women or torture in the name of religion, and let loose the reigns of terror on human societies in many geographies. However, Dr Savita Halpannavar, who died in a hospital in Ireland because the doctors refused to terminate her pregnancy even as it threatened her life, and that too in the name of religion, should shake the conscience of the world and make it ensure that such obscurantist laws are changed immediately universally.
Unless her death is atoned by a global ban on such an inhuman practice, it will look like a deliberate murder of a human being.