Pro-abortion marches, vigils in Ireland in memory of Savita Halappanavar

Calling for major reforms in abortion laws, marches and vigils have been planned in Dublin on Saturday to mark the 10th death anniversary of Savita Halappanavar — the Indian-origin dentist who died on this day after being denied an abortion in Ireland.

Savita, 31, died on October 28, 2012 from septicemia — an infection she contracted after she was denied an abortion during a miscarriage. She was 17 weeks pregnant then, and was admitted to the University Hospital Galway.

Her death sparked protests and outrage across the country over strict abortion laws, and subsequent repealing of the Eighth Amendment that banned termination of pregnancies in Ireland.

“It’s really important to remember Savita’s death,” Orla O’Connor, director of the National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI), told Irish Times.

The NWCI along with the Union of Students in Ireland is supporting the march organised by socialist feminist group Rosa.

“I think the march is very important, because we appeal to people to remember Savita and say never again should any woman die or suffer who has asked for an abortion,” Ruth Coppinger, a Rosa member, told Irish Examiner.

Despite the Eighth Amendment being repealed, the organisers of the forthcoming march said there are still some issues remaining with provision of termination in Ireland.

“Today we remember #Savita, ten years after her appalling and needless death – a direct result of cruel misogynist abortion laws. Despite progress since then, far too many pregnant people throughout the island of Ireland are still having to travel for reproductive healthcare,” Paul Sceeny, a twitter user from Ireland, wrote.

A vigil has also been organised in the Irish Embassy in London on Saturday in the memory of Savita.

“Women & girls from Ireland, North & South, still being forced to go to England to access abortion when the law fails them,” Cara Sanquest, Labour Councillor for Queen’s Park, Westminster, tweeted.

Savita and her husband Praveen had made three requests in all for an emergency termination, according to a report in The Guardian, but were told that since this is a Catholic country, they cannot terminate the pregnancy as the foetus was still alive.

Praveen said the requests were turned down even though Savita told the doctor that she was a Hindu and not an Irish citizen.

Savita arrived in Galway, Ireland, in July 2008 from Belgaum, Karnataka. In July 2012, she was granted a licence to practise in Ireland, and in the same month, she was delighted to learn she was pregnant.

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