One Woman’s Totally Unwarranted Death Might Spark Real Change In Ireland

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By now, you have probably heard the tragic story of Savita Halappanavar, the 31-year-old woman who was denied a medically necessary abortion and died from complications of her pregnancy.

Savita Halappanavar was 17 weeks pregnant when she went to the University Hospital in Galway, Ireland with severe back pain. She was told that she was in the process of miscarrying. For three days, the 31-year-old woman asked for a medical termination of the pregnancy while suffering through extreme pain. However, the hospital refused to perform the abortion, leading to complications that ended up costing Savita her life.

On Saturday night, thousands of protesters in Dublin took the streets chanting, “never again, never again,” while marching to government buildings and holding a candlelight vigil.

Although the Irish Supreme Court ruled 20 years ago abortions are allowed when there is a real and substantial risk to the life of the mother, the ruling has never been enacted into law. According to a report by CNN, “there is little clarity for doctors or patients as to when an abortion can and can’t take place.” Which is why the masses are now demanding that this supreme court ruling be made into law.

It is a shame that it takes such horrifying circumstances to enact real change. Halappanavar was denied an abortion and left in excruciating pain for nearly three days until her body succumbed to septicaemia, a severe infection of the bloodstream. The very thought of a woman begging for a medical procedure to end a pregnancy that wasn’t even viable and being denied it – while her husband was helplessly forced to basically watch her die – is totally infuriating. But sometimes it is a fury like this that gets people to the streets – demanding change.

I’m sick that in some parts of the world, religion still controls things like access to necessary medical care. I’m disgusted beyond words that a woman had to die because of excuses that people truly think are based in some kind of misguided “morality.” I’m just hoping that Halappanavar has a legacy. Her totally untimely death has obviously sparked outrage. I just hope that the spark is enough to ignite an inferno of change for women in Ireland.

(photo: Levente Gyori/