Is Ireland's abortion law outdated and responsible for a woman's death?
There has been outrage, emotional, calls for investigation, protests and all kinds of debate in the last few days of the very tragic death of Savita Halappanavar.
The story, according to her husband goes something like this:
On the Tuesday morning, she asked to terminate her pregnancy, given her own worsening health and that the 17-week-old foetus was unviable because she was miscarrying, a fact that her husband Praveen said became clear soon after she arrived at the hospital.
But the request was apparently refused, the couple were told that it was against the abortion laws and that "this is a Catholic country". Guardian
Her mother is quoted as saying: "In an attempt to save a 4-month-old foetus they killed my ... daughter. How is that fair you tell me?"
The real controversy revolves around certain key facts, given Irelands' near total ban on abortion:
The 31-year-old dentist died of blood poisoning on 27 October in University Hospital Galway despite asking repeatedly to terminate her 17-week-long pregnancy. Staff refused to carry out an abortion because her husband said they had detected a foetal heartbeat even though the couple were told the baby would not survive. Guardian
However it seems it was not just the abortion law but also medical negligence that resulted in her death. Despite this, mass protests are being arranged around Ireland and also in London in a call to change their laws.
It is a response which some find unjustified and sensationalist in response to the particular case:
Dr Gerry Whyte, an associate professor at Trinity College Dublin, claimed that the law as it stands provides for abortions, but only in cases where it is deemed necessary to save the life of a mother. He said: "The legal principle is clear, in other words, if there was a real and substantial risk to the mother's life and where termination of the pregnancy was necessary to avoid that risk, then she would have been entitled to an abortion. Guardian
An anti-abortion spokesperson had this to say:
Niamh Uí Bhriain, of the Life Institute, said: "It is very sad to see abortion campaigners rush to exploit this case to further their own agenda. The tragic loss of Savita Halappanavar's life was not caused by Ireland's ban on abortion. We need to ensure that mothers and babies are best protected; and abortion is not part of best medical practise. It is medieval medicine." Guardian
Have abortion laws played a part in the woman's death? Is it right that there will now be reopened debate in Ireland? What do you think the consequences will be? Are people right to be out protesting? Are Ireland's laws too strict? Are the UK laws better?
- Why abortions should remain legal: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/the-womens-blog-with-jane-martinson/2012/nov/14/abortion-should-remain-legal