By Claire Mc Cormack
Friday, November 16, 2012
The death of an Indian woman who was denied an abortion in Ireland has triggered protests worldwide this week and renewed the debate over the country's strict abortion laws.
Credit: Informatique, on Flickr under Creative Commons 2.0
(WOMENSENEWS)--Women's rights and pro-choice groups across the world will rally this weekend following the death of Savita Halappanavar, who died in hospital in Western Ireland after being '"denied a termination."
Halappanavar, a 31-year-old Indian woman, was 17 weeks pregnant in the midst of a miscarriage but refused an abortion. She died in Galway Hospital after suffering from blood poisoning.
Since the story broke, on Nov. 14, anger has filled the streets of Ireland's Dublin, Cork and Galway cities where protests and vigils were held in solidarity to Halappanavar. An estimated 2,000 people marched outside Ireland's government headquarters, Leinster House, in Dublin on Nov. 14, to protest against the lack of abortion legislation in Ireland.
Ireland's laws place a near ban on abortion, even though a ruling in 2010 from the European Court of Human Rights made abortion legal in Ireland if the mother's life is at risk. However, the Irish government has so far failed to implement any legislation to reflect the court's ruling.
Protest organizers Pro-Choice Campaign Ireland are expecting even bigger numbers to demonstrate over the weekend in Dublin's city center according to the group's Facebook page and have called for pickets to be set up outside Irish embassies across the world to keep up pressure for abortion legalization in Ireland. Pro-choice activists are using social media networks in hopes or creating a mass protest.
Meanwhile, there has also been outrage to the incident in Halappanavar's home country. On Thursday the India Times headline read, "Ireland murders pregnant Indian dentist."
About a 100 opposition protesters held a demonstration outside the Irish embassy in New Delhi on Nov. 15, prompting India's ambassador to Ireland to announce that Savita "would still be alive if she was treated in India."
Originally from Belgaum in the Karnataka region of southwest India, Halappanavararrived at Galway Hospital on Oct. 21 with back pain. She was found to be miscarrying and died of septicemia a week later, on Oct. 28.
After being told that she was losing her child, Halappanavar asked to have the pregnancy terminated. Her husband, Praveen, an engineer based in Galway city, informed the Irish media that Halappanavar asked several times over the three day period to have the pregnancy terminated because she was in severe pain reported The Irish Times on Nov.14.
Halappanavar's doctor refused her request because the fetal heartbeat was still present and because "this is a Catholic country." Her husband said his wife spent a further two days "in agony," before the fetal heartbeat stopped, reported The Irish Times.
Two inquiries have been set up to determine the cause of Halappanavar's death, reported The New York Times. India will request that the Irish authorities share the results of the investigations, added the article.
Almost 4,000 people have joined a new Facebook page set up by Pro-Choice Campaign Ireland, a group based throughout the country who campaign for access to free, safe and legal abortion in Ireland, focused on the rally in central Dublin this weekend, with a further 27,000 invites issued on the network urging users of the site to attend the event called Protest at Savita's Death.
Claire is a writer and reporter based in Dublin/ New York.