Ireland: Inaction on X case decision responsible for medieval treatment of Savita Halappanavar

International day of action for legal abortion

Legislation for Supreme Court ruling on X should proceed immediately as a first step to free, safe and legal abortion on demand.

Responding to the tragic news of the death of Savita Halappanavar following a decision by consultants at Galway University Hospital not to proceed with the termination of an unviable foetus, Socialist Party councillor and pro-choice activist Ruth Coppinger said:

"It was only last Monday that we raised the issue of the need to legislate for the Supreme Court ruling on X at a debate in Fingal County Council. None of us were aware at that stage of the tragic and needless death of Savita Halappanavar who developed septicaemia from E Coli after she was refused a timely termination of an unviable miscarrying 17 week-old foetus.

"Our first thoughts must be for Savita’s family and friends and Savita herself who endured two and a half days of agony during which, despite her pleas, she was denied a termination because there remained a foetal heart beat and according to her husband she was told that we ’live in a Catholic country’.

"This medieval state of affairs persists because of the cowardly inaction of successive governments since 1992 as well as the lethal foot dragging by this government who voted down a United Left Alliance backed bill that would have saved Savita’s life and potentially the lives of other women. Legislation for X must proceed immediately to prevent this from happening again.

"However we cannot assume that this needless tragedy will bring the political establishment to their senses. People power pressure from below is what is required."

International day of action

Socialist Party / United Left Alliance MEP Paul Murphy today called for an international day of action for legal abortion in Ireland following the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar:

“The death of Savita Halappananavar is the tragic and unnecessary result of the failure of Irish governments to introduce abortion legislation. The failure to separate Church and state has resulted in the Catholic Church in Ireland having an over-bearing, conservative grip on health and educational policies.

“I am calling for an international day of action for Wednesday 21st to call for legal abortion to be introduced in Ireland. Protests will be held in cities and at Irish embassies across the world to put pressure on the Irish government to introduce legal abortion. Already I know that protests will take place in cities across Britain, in Belgium, Germany and Sweden.

“Along with Mikael Gustafsson, chair of the women’s Rights and Equality committee, I have initiated a letter of protest at the failure of the Irish state to legislate for abortion rights. The letter has already been signed by over 20 MEPs.

“International pressure can only embarrass the government, the people of Ireland must turn out in vast numbers at Saturday’s protest and maintain a campaign thereafter to force the government to legislate for full abortion rights.”

Protests to be held at Irish Embassies across the world on Wednesday 21 November.

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November 2012