Woman's death prompts protests over abortion rights

2012-11-19 07:01:58 GMT2012-11-19 15:01:58(Beijing Time)  SINA.com
About 10,000 people marched through Dublin and observed a minute's silence on Saturday in memory of the Indian dentist who died of blood poisoning in an Irish hospital after being denied an abortion.About 10,000 people marched through Dublin and observed a minute's silence on Saturday in memory of the Indian dentist who died of blood poisoning in an Irish hospital after being denied an abortion.

About 10,000 people marched through Dublin and observed a minute's silence on Saturday in memory of the Indian dentist who died of blood poisoning in an Irish hospital after being denied an abortion.

Marchers, many of them mothers and daughters walking side by side, chanting: "Never again!" and held pictures of Savita Halappanavar as they paraded across the city to stage a candlelit vigil outside the office of Prime Minister Enda Kenny.

The 31-year-old, 17 weeks pregnant with her first child, died on October 28 one week after being admitted to hospital with severe pain at the start of a miscarriage. Her death, made public by her husband this week, has highlighted Ireland's long struggle to come to grips with abortion.

Doctors refused her requests to remove the fetus until its heartbeat stopped four days after her hospitalization. Hours later she became critically ill and her organs began to fail. She died three days later from blood poisoning.

Her husband said she could have survived had the fetus been removed sooner.

The case illustrates a 20-year-old confusion in abortion law in Ireland, where the practice is outlawed in the constitution.

A 1992 Supreme Court ruling decreed that abortions should be legal to save the life of the woman, including if she makes credible threats to commit suicide if denied one. But successive governments have refused to pass legislation spelling out the rules, leaving the decision up to doctors.

Kenny's government says it needs to await the findings of two investigations into Halappanavar's death before taking any action. It has declined to say if it will pass legislation to make the 1992 judgment the clear-cut, detailed law of the land. Many doctors say they fear being targeted by lawsuits or protests - or even charged with murder - if they perform an abortion to safeguard a pregnant woman's life.

Speakers from socialist parties, women's groups and abortion rights activists addressed Saturday's crowd from atop a flat-bed truck. They decried the fact that two decades had passed without any political decision to define when hospitals could, and could not, perform abortions.

The Irish government's inaction on abortion means that the only law on the books dates to British rule in 1861, declaring that "procurement of a miscarriage" amounts to murder.

Irish voters in 1992 passed constitutional amendments legalizing the right of Irish women to receive information on abortion services in England, and to travel there without fear of facing prosecution. British health authorities estimate that 4,000 to 5,000 Irish residents travel to England each year for abortions.

 

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Editor: Mei Jingya
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