A referendum on whether to repeal Ireland’s strict anti-abortion law will be decided on May 25th, 2018. But then, how is this of any significance to us in India?
One of the main reasons why this referendum is now happening is the tragic death of 31-year-old Savita Halappanavar, an Indian-origin dentist who was living in Ireland. On 28th October 2012, she died in a hospital in Ireland, due to complications from a septic miscarriage.
Despite requests for a medical induced miscarriage, after being told by the doctors that a miscarriage was inevitable and imminent, Savita was refused the same as the laws in Ireland prohibited it.
Abortion is legal in Ireland, only in rare cases when the woman’s life is explicitly in danger, and several thousand Irish women travel each year to terminate pregnancies in neighbouring Britain.
After spending a week in the hospital, Savita died due to blood poisoning.
Today, as the citizens of the country step out to vote, if the ‘yes’ side prevails and the constitutional ban on abortions is repealed, the government will plan to introduce a law to allow abortion within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. The law would also allow abortion beyond this duration, in specific cases where the mother is at grave risk or the fetus is likely to die in the womb or shortly after birth.
A father’s plea
Savita’s father, Andanappa Yalagi, and mother, Akhmedevi Yalagi, are still inconsolable. Even after five years, there is nothing that eases their pain.
What they are now hoping for, is that the laws in Ireland change so that no other daughter has to go through what Savita did.
Speaking to NewsSky, Andanappa said, “Because she was there in Ireland, she lost her life. If she was in India or some other country, it could have happened; we would have had an abortion.”
An emotional father sitting miles away from where the referendum is taking place has only one plea. He told Mumbai Mirror, “I hope the people of Ireland remember my daughter Savita on the day of the referendum, and that what happened to her won’t happen to any other family.”
As we publish this piece, voting is underway in Ireland.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)
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