The death of Savita Halappanavar has ignited outrage, shame and discussion over Ireland’s abortion laws. Savita, an Indian dentist living in Galway with her husband, died in hospital on October 28. She had been admitted with back pain, and was found to be miscarrying her pregnancy of 17-weeks. Despite pleas from Savita and her family, doctors refused to abort the fetus whilst a heartbeat could still be detected. When the heartbeat stopped, three days later, the dead fetus was removed. Savita died four days later of septicemia.
Medical staff refused the abortion on the grounds that Ireland is a “Catholic country” – although the law states that in cases where an abortion would save the mother’s life, it is allowed.
This isn’t a case from long ago, or from somewhere far away. This is right on our doorsteps, and it is very current, and very important. Will Savita’s case lead to a change in legislation? The pressure is on, both from within Ireland and worldwide. Abortion laws in Ireland are among the strictest in the world. There have long been campaigns, from both sides, but Savita’s case has dramatically sparked support for the pro-choice campaign.
“For more than 20 years we have seen political cowardice and inaction on this issue. The theme of this march is ‘never again’. Never again will a woman be allowed to die.”
The fury with the Irish government, and the empathy for Savita and her family, is evident in the faces and placards of these protestors. Will their voices be heard? Another march is scheduled in Dublin for this coming Wednesday: until something changes, the protestors will make their voices heard.