Savita Halappanavar

4 Dec

One of the most interesting topics, in my opinion, we’ve covered in class, was the question of abortion in Ireland.  Abortion has always been a controversial topic, and it is interesting to me to consider the political stance from a country based on its societal trends.  Knowing Ireland as a historically and current Catholic country, I was not surprised to hear of the rather strict abortion laws in the country.  The case that sparked my interest was of Savita Halappanavar. Halappanavar, 31, died on October 28th, at University Hospital Galway, which led to uproar around Ireland, Britain and India, calling for changes to their outdated laws.  Her case began when she was 17 weeks pregnant, and went to the hospital suffering from miscarriage.  There, Halappanavar was refused an abortion, being told “it was the law, this is a Catholic country.”  In the days that followed, she was diagnosed with septicemia which caused multi-organ failure and ultimately, her death.

With the news of her death becoming public, it spread rapidly through traditional news and social media outlets. In response to the widespread protests to the Halappanavar case, the Irish government passed the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act of 2013.  During July 2013, it passed both houses of legislation and was signed into law by Michael D. Higgins, Ireland’s president.  Recently in September 2013, Halappanavar’s widower, Praveen took legal proceedings against Galway University Hospital and separately against his deceased wife’s doctor.  His claim stated that the hospital breached his wife’s constitutional right to life and that the hospital made more than 20 acts of medical negligence.

It should be noted that Ireland has progressed in its previous stance on abortion in the recent decades.  Five referendums have been held in the last 30 years alone on the debate.  Originally, abortion was illegal in every possible situation.  However, now the state says that it is illegal unless it is necessary in order to save the life of the mother, including suicide. It is still estimated that in 2011, over 4,000 Irish women travelled abroad to Britain in order to obtain a legal abortion.

 

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