As a committee of the Irish Parliament considers proposals to offer limited legal abortion in Ireland, this paper explores how these issues came together around Savita Halappanavar’s death, the interpretation of Catholic health policy and the consequences for pregnant women.
Here in Central America, women are denied life-saving treatment every day. Women with life-threatening illnesses are denied treatment because to do so might harm their pregnancy—just the same explanation that Savita’s husband received from their doctors in Galway. [This article is published in both English and Spanish.]
Haunted by the harrowing details of Savita’s death we’re left to wonder how many more women in Ireland may have lost their lives as a result of being denied a life-saving abortion.
What does it say about a society when it leaves a woman to die in the name of “life?” Where is the respect for women’s lives? This irony pervades the politics surrounding women’s health in my own country, the United States.
The plight of the Halappanavars indirectly highlights the narrowness of a “Catholic” law in an increasingly borderless world. The question now is whether the global valence of a woman’s death can inspire a national reckoning.
A step by step, detailed timeline of the events leading up to Savita Halappanavar’s death, presented by her husband and others with her at the time.
We have to hold governments accountable. Laws must be clear on abortion and guidance and training need to follow. And never should a woman’s life hang in the balance because of someone else’s moral objection to abortion.
What do Malta and Ireland have in common, that is in addition to being under strong Catholic Church influence and that the women living there are taking the toll (as always)? They are also both members of the EU.
Hopefully, the tragedy of Savita will, at least, finally spur the Irish government to issue clearer guidelines that the life of the pregnant woman must be privileged over that of her fetus. But if the thousands demonstrating reflect changes already underway in Irish society—including a growing dissatisfaction with the Catholic Church’s influence—perhaps some day Savita Halappanavar will be remembered as the woman whose death was a turning point in the long struggle for the legalization of abortion in Ireland.
The Irish government has yet to regulate access to life-saving abortions in Ireland, despite the fact that such medical interventions have been legal in that country for two decades. The situation has created fear in both women and the medical profession alike.