Savita’s death sparks outcry over abortion law - The New Indian Express

Savita’s death sparks outcry over abortion law

Published: 16th November 2012 09:22 AM

Last Updated: 16th November 2012 09:22 AM

The death of 31-year-old Indian dentist Savita Hallapanavar in an Irish hospital has snowballed into a rallying point for those who are against near-total ban on abortions in Ireland. It has also turned into a diplomatic issue, with India terming Savita’s death a “matter of concern”.

Savita was admitted to University College Hospital in Galway in Western Ireland in the 17th week of her pregnancy on October 21, following complaints of severe back pain. When doctors told her that she was about to have a miscarriage, Savita repeatedly asked for an abortion.

Only after three days, when the heartbeat of foetus could no longer be detected, was it surgically removed from her body. But, Savita contracted septicemia and died on October 28.

One of the doctors gave the reason “this is a Catholic country”,  for not allowing abortion, a front page story published on November 14 in Ireland’s top newspaper, ‘Irish Times’, quoted Savita’s husband Praveen Halappanavar as saying.

Speaking to reporters, Savita’s father Andanappa Yalagi said in Karnataka that it was a combination of doctors’ negligence and Irish abortion laws that killed his daughter. Savita’s body was brought back  to Karnataka for cremation.

“In an attempt to save a four-month-old foetus, they killed my daughter. How is that fair?” said Savita’s mother A Mahadevi, who reminded that Catholic law should be not applied on them as they are Hindus. She also requested Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s intervention.

“We deeply regret the tragic death of Halappanavar. The death of an Indian national in such circumstances is a matter of concern,” said External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin. He said the Indian Embassy in Dublin is following the matter closely. Following the outcry, the Irish Government had announced two inquiries into Savita’s death -- one by the hospital and another by the Irish Health Department. “We are awaiting the results of both inquiries,” Akbaruddin said.

Irish Health Minister James Reilly warned that the inquiry should not be prejudged and asserted that it had to “stand up to world’s scrutiny”.

On his part, Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny did not rule out an independent inquiry after the results of the current probes were out. Indian officials said it would be difficult for New Delhi to directly intervene in the matter, till the inquiries were completed and results shared.

Meanwhile, the BJP asked External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid to intervene in the matter. The National Commission of Women Chairperson Mamta Sharma told reporters that Ireland should have rules to deal with cases like that of Savita.

On Wednesday evening, over 2,000 people attended a candlelight vigil in front of Irish Parliament seeking a legislation on abortion.

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