We need to get off the fence and demand full abortion rights. Rest In Peace Savita

By Kitty | November 15 2012 | 89 Comments

Since hearing the heartbreaking news of Savita Halappanavar’s death, I’ve found myself pinballing between being on the verge of tears and outright rage. Savita was a 31 year old Indian woman, a dentist who lived in Galway and was denied a medical abortion that would most likely have saved her life.

Savita was suffering a miscarriage, which left her in agony for 3 days. She requested a termination, as she had been told that the foetus had no chance of survival. However, a foetal heartbeat had been detected and her requests were refused. Her husband has since said that her requests for a termination were met with the answer: “This is a Catholic country.” By the time the foetal heartbeat had stopped, Savita had contracted septicaemia and would never recover.

The fact that the Irish Government has been happy to drag its heels on the issue of legislating for abortion makes me absolutely furious. Just this week, James Reilly received the report from the expert group set up by the Government to recommend what steps Ireland should take in relation to the X Case. The report was already delayed and you can be sure that any action that’s going to be taken would also be put off or kicked further down the road. The fact that it has taken a woman’s death to bring the debate into sharper focus than ever before, is utterly horrendous.

The Irish pro-life organisations have released statements claiming that Savita’s death is being used by the pro-choice movement to score points in order to pressurise the Government into legislating for abortion. A completely ridiculous position as the whole point of legislating for the X Case is to save women’s lives. And I’m loath to call them “pro-life” in the first place as that phrase just rings hollow, now more than ever. Continuously putting clear legislation off and saying it’s not a priority is just not good enough anymore.

Ireland needs to legislate for safe and legal abortion. Savita was failed by this country and our archaic laws, and it makes me ashamed to be Irish. This absolutely has to be the point at which things change.

I think it was best summed up by a commenter on the Facebook page for one of the pro-choice protests in her memory: Savita had a heartbeat too.

Life, Feminism , , , ,

89 Replies to "We need to get off the fence and demand full abortion rights. Rest In Peace Savita"

  • LauraLou says:

    this makes me so mad. this country is so backwards. I feel so bad for this poor woman and her family. It’s tragic.

    It’s also a shame that a woman had to die for the government to pay attention.

    Every woman should have the right to her own body. It really makes me so mad.

    RIP Savita, I’m sorry our country let you down xx

  • Shygirl says:

    This case is just so saddening, heartbreaking and horrible. She was such a beautiful woman. My heart goes out to her husband and family. It makes me ashamed.

  • Babodpower says:

    It’s an absolute disgrace! This beauty woman was basically handed a death sentence,things have to change. Her poor husband.I’m just heartbroken that our backward thinking country did this to her.

  • fififinx says:

    I am absolutely sickened at the ‘pro-life’ attitude to Savita’s death. I’m not particularly pro-abortion, as such, but I believe that there are certain circumstances where a termination is the best option for all involved. To dismiss the genuine horror at the obscene and above all entirely preventable manner of Savita’s death felt be all right-minded people on this island as political point scoring is not only disrespectful in the extreme, it reduces the rest of us to their level. I propose that all women in Ireland get themselves a cheap T-shirt, spray paint a HUGE X on it, and wear it until legislation is introduced to protect the life of the mother. Clearly legal precedent is not enough.
    My heart was broken today, to read that Savita and her husband moved to Ireland because they were told it was a great place to have a baby. In her memory, let’s make it so!

  • *Aisling* says:

    I can’t tell you how angry, ashamed, frustrated and helpless this made me feel.

    Already our politicians are making excuses “lets hear the full facts, lets not jump to any conclusions” instead of banging their hands on the table and saying “we will find out what happened and we will stop at nothing”

    The whole world already knows what happened. A young woman, a migrant to this country, died a preventable death in one of our so called first world hospitals. She died in agony, begging for the abortion.

    This woman had her whole life in front of her. She was a beautiful professional woman and was expecting her first baby with her husband. We have let her down in the worst way possible.

    I am still crying when I write this.

    Nothing now will suffice but full abortion rights as there is in every other civilized country in the world. Forget the X case ruling – it’s too late. Successive governments failed to bring it in for TWENTY years.

    I voted in that referendum. It was bitter and divisive. I expect nothing less now.


  • *Aisling* says:

    And despite this sickening event making the news in many other countries in the world (quickly becoming the top story on many networks) guess what? The RTE coverage was dreadful, a disgrace with a real Father Ted downplaying the whole issue ring to it.

    But we are NOT that country any more. And we are NOT going to take this.

    Beaut.ie Mammy and little sis were at the protest. There were far more there than was reported by our national broadcaster.

    THe eyes of the world are on you Enda and they are shocked and appalled. Handle this case the way you should I BEG of you

    There are more protests, one on Sat in Dublin, we will keep you informed and everyone feel free to post links to groups, gatherings etc

  • Anita says:

    I’m just astounded that people who care so much about saving the life of a baby wouldn’t save the life of the woman carrying it. I just don’t understand. The baby was going to die anyway. It was so callous of them to basically sentence Savita to death alongside it. Can you imagine dying slowly? I can’t, but it must be hell. And her poor husband, her poor family, who could do nothing for her… how they must be feeling! I don’t care if pro-“lifers” think people are going to “use” her to “score points” – there is no point scoring. This is not about that. This is about giving rights to women over their bodies, rights they should fully have. People do not undertake the decision to have an abortion lightly, Savita only wanted one because her baby was dying.

  • EvieM says:

    I’m sickened and disgusted to call myself Irish this week. No doubt this will lead to yet another tribunal costing millions and leading no where. That poor woman died in agony because the life of a dying child was more important than her own. To say this is victorian in nature is even more saddening, back then a doctor would have made the call and saved the poor woman, today their hands are tied by bureaucracy.

  • I just spent yesterday bawling my eyes out over this. Such a tragic, needless waste of life. That poor woman and her poor husband to have to stand by helpless while she faded away. The torture she must have gone through, it’s almost unbelieavable.

    Savita was 17 weeks pregnant when this happened to her, the same stage of gestation as I am now. This could happen to me. It could happen to any of us.

    My husband was working all day yesterday and didn’t get to see or hear any news until late last night. When I told him what had happened and showed him the news stories, he went white. He had always thought that, as my next of kin, if anything went wrong during my pregnancy that he could say to the doctors ‘save my wife’ and that they would respect those wishes and do so. He was very quiet for a long time after hearing that this is not the case.

    All of it, this whole sorry mess, breaks my heart. Full abortion rights is the only answer now, it’s too late for anything else.

  • fififinx says:

    I’ve had queries about all this from New Zealand, the States and Norway so far today. Our country is an international disgrace.

  • elimare says:

    I was at the rally last night. Just watching news reports where they were saying ‘hundreds’ of people came out. There were 2000 people there last night. 2000 VERY ANGRY people. We sat for 5 minutes in silence for Savita and I have to say despite the horrific circumstances the atmosphere was wonderful. All those people angry and united and respectful.
    I’m planning on going out on Saturday as well.

  • Eve says:

    I’m so glad you’re writing about this. Thank you.

  • elimare says:

    Hmm, I realise the phrase ‘wonderful atmosphere’ could come off sounding wrong. What I meant to say was that the unity, the strangers standing beside me who listened to the speakers, who cried, who shared their own stories with small circles of strangers around them and who seemed determined that this should never happen again was a wonderful thing to be a part of.

  • Scarie says:

    I emailed tds from nwci.ie as something small I could do. A family member is pregnant and I cried over this yesterday thinking it could easily be her . It’s disgraceful that it could happen!!!

  • dee says:

    This is an extremely sad and tragic story, which we still don’t know the whole story of. A young woman is dead, her family have lost a wife, sister, daughter and also a grandchild. It’s heart breaking. However even without legislation for abortion, Ireland is one of the safest countries for pregnant women. If she was denied medical treatment at that hospital, that was an exception. That hospital failed her, however this case is the exception, not the norm.

  • Jane says:

    Spent time with my teenage sons last night making sure they were aware of Savita and her story. They too are horrified.
    I want their school to discuss it with the students.
    Everyone in this country needs to shout out loud that this will NEVER happen again.
    Referendum NOW.

  • LoCo says:

    My heart is broken for Savita, her husband and family. I couldn’t stop thinking about her and them all evening. I’m so so sorry that our country has failed you. I’m so ashamed.

    The fact that successive governments failed to bring in the X case ruling for 20 years, just makes it so much worse.

  • *Aisling* says:

    elimare – knew exactly what you meant about the atmosphere. There were thousands there, not hundreds, why did RTE downplay it

  • Andrea says:

    I am so sad and so sorry this happened, I can only think of one thing: can you possibly imagine what she was thinking and feeling those last couple of days? My heart’s breaking at the thought of it!
    She was sentenced to death along with her baby dying inside of her…
    I wish there was anything I could do for the poor husband and family, I’m lost for words but things will have to change! She was treated like an incubator really not like a human being with a kind heart and soul!

  • Gracie says:

    I am so saddened by this. I am at work and I can’t stop tearing up. The thing is I am a foreigner living in Dublin. I don’t know about having a baby, but it is a great place to live as a foreign person. [And I’m telling you that from experience as I lived in a few other European countries as well.] It is just so easy to be here and adapt; thus I’m happy to call Ireland my 2nd home. So, I really hope from the bottom of my heart that Ireland can tackle this issue as soon as possible.

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