Thousands gathered outside the Irish parliament on Wednesday night after news that Savita Halappanavar, a 31 year old woman, had died in a Galway hospital after repeatedly being denied a life-saving abortion.
Savita was 17 weeks pregnant when she developed complications with her pregnancy. Although the foetus was not viable she was repeatedly denied medical treatment. When she asked why she was told by her consultant that it was “against the law” and that Ireland “is a Catholic country”.
Her case has sparked huge outpourings of anger across the country. There have been protests in Belfast, Cork and Galway. In Galway, the city were Savita lived, a spontaneous gathering of people took place throughout the day in the city’s main square.
People arrived at the protests carrying pictures of Savita, candles and signs saying “never again”. People were furious that once again a woman died as a direct result of Ireland’s draconian abortion laws.
Abortion is illegal in all circumstances in Ireland, except where there is a direct and imminent threat to the woman’s life.
The Labour/Fine Gael government is obliged, following a 2010 ruling by the European Court of Human Rights, to provide legislation for limited abortion. Yet shamefully they have refused to act.
Like every Irish government before them, they are content to kick the problem down the road or pretend it doesn’t exist. Their refusal to act to protect women in Ireland directly contributed to the circumstances that brought about Savita’s death.
On Saturday there will be a national rally to remember Savita and to call for abortion rights for Irish women.
Video from Trade Union TV Ireland on YouTube