Protesters demand further abortion reform 10 years after Savita Halappanavar’s death

Lots of of individuals took to the streets in Dublin today to mark the tenth anniversary of the death of Savita Halappanavar and call for abortion law reforms.

s Halappanavar died from sepsis in Galway in 2012 while miscarrying after her request for an abortion was turned down on legal grounds.

Her death was seen as a catalyst for abortion reform in Ireland before the Eighth Amendment was repealed in a 2018 referendum.

Nonetheless, a lot of those attending today’s march said further reform is required.

About 300 people braved poor weather at times to recollect Ms Halappanavar, demand reform and highlight issues around abuse of girls and gender rights.

National Women’s Council director Orla O’Connor said it was essential to recollect Ms Halappanavar’s story and the way her outcomes might have been very different with no ban on abortion.

“It will be important we remember Savita Halappanavar. She was 31-years-old, a young woman along with her whole life ahead of her. It was so sad and tragic and such an unnecessary death, an enormous loss to her family and friends. That is a component of the rationale individuals are out here, to recollect and say we’ll always remember her,” she said.

Ms O’Connor said she would love to see on ongoing review of Ireland’s abortion laws by the Department of Health draw on the experiences of girls because “our laws shouldn’t be ok”.

Irish abortion laws mean a medical termination of a pregnancy is offered as much as 12 weeks but is just allowed thereafter if there may be a serious threat to the life or health of the mother, or where two clinicians agree there may be a fatal foetal abnormality more likely to result in the death of the foetus before or inside 28 days of birth. There’s also a compulsory three-day wait between a girl asking for an abortion under 12 weeks and accessing one.

Ms O’Connor said these measures must be addressed and expressed concern on the potential criminalisation of doctors who conform to terminate a pregnancy which will have survived longer than 28 days. She also said migrants and folks in rural areas were less more likely to give you the option to access abortion services.

“Put abortion like every other medical procedure, in that it must be between a girl and her doctor,” she added.

A crowd had gathered on the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin shortly after 1pm before marching up O’Connell Street.

When passing the GPO they chanted in solidarity with a gaggle gathered at the underside of the Spire holding a separate demonstration calling out the treatment of girls in Iran.

The march crossed O’Connell Bridge and made its way through Temple Bar before stopping by the Repeal mural on the Project Arts Centre. Here, campaigners reiterated an earlier call for a everlasting memorial to be erected in honour of Ms Halappanavar.

An artwork of her image was held in front of the Repeal mural emblazoned with the words “never again” as Roopesh Panicker, a member of the Indian-Irish community, read a poem in Hindi.

A rough translation included the lines: “You lived a brief life but secured a spot in lots of hearts, your life won’t go in vain, people will keep your memories alive and all the time remember you, to them you might be still alive.”

Marchers held a moment of silence before leaving Temple Bar and gathering at City Hall, near Dublin Castle.

Former master of the National Maternity Hospital Dr Peter Boylan said it might be an “insult to the memory of Savita” if the brand new maternity hospital plans went ahead of their current guise, despite being approved by the Government last May.

Politicians and medics previously raised concerns a Catholic ethos would influence healthcare decisions at the brand new hospital since the land where it’s resulting from be built was once owned by the Religious Sisters of Charity.

The order says it should don’t have any say within the running of the hospital.

“Savita died as a direct results of the Eighth Amendment, there isn’t a doubt about that,” Dr Boylan added.

“Religious ethos continues to be very dominant in our hospitals.”

Dr Boylan said he was also concerned concerning the potential criminalisation of medics. He said current abortion laws need “tweaking”.

“The three-day waiting period is completely unnecessary. It’s infantilising of girls who turn as much as their GP searching for a termination early in pregnancy.

“The very fact it’s a criminal offence to make a mistake on the foetal abnormality front, that should be removed.”

Former TD Ruth Coppinger, a member of the Rosa socialist feminist movement, said people marched in “sadness, solidarity and anger” at what happened to her and other women across the globe.

“People saw that would have been me, my sister, my daughter, my wife. Savita was not the primary but the primary know victim of the Eighth Amendments, a church-state law designed to manage women and their rights.

“We must always campaign from this march for a everlasting memorial to say never again.”

Pro Life Campaign spokesperson Eilis Mulroy, nevertheless, said it was “unfair and disingenuous” for the tenth anniversary of Ms Halappanavar’s death to see calls for “an excellent more extreme expansion of the Irish abortion law”.

“Whilst her tragic death was the results of medical oversight, it was not attributable to the Eighth Amendment as campaigners for abortion have incessantly claimed,” she said.

“Mismanaged sepsis was the reason behind Savita’s death, as backed up by several independent reports, and never the denial of an abortion.

“Ten years on from her death, it is very inappropriate for campaigners and pro-abortion politicians to proceed leaning on myths and mistruths to push for a radical expansion of Ireland’s already extreme abortion law.”


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