Home > Europe, India, Politics, Yumm-Rika > Savita Halappanavar: A Death That Woke Up A Nation

Savita Halappanavar: A Death That Woke Up A Nation


While there is still a long-way for Irish abortion-law to travel, but the Irish Government has chosen an honorable course.

Ireland has a long history of being anti-colonial – having been a British colony and paid a price for the privilege of being a British colony. Like India, famine, death, oppression – the standard ingredients of colonialism were visited on Ireland, also.

India-Ireland nations go back some time. For instance, India legitimized the Irish Constitution when the Indian Constitution adopted the idea of Directive Principles of State Policy from the Irish Constitution.

While many in Indian media had doubts about Irish intentions, 2ndlook decided to reserve opinion. Unlike other cases of expat-Indian /NRI persecution, in the Savita Halappanavar case, there were no tweets, or posts by 2ndlook.

While there is still a long-way to travel, but the Irish Government has chosen an honorable course.

Ireland’s cabinet took the decision on Tuesday following a huge public outcry over the death of Savita Halappanavar, a pregnant woman in October who died after her repeated requests for an abortion were refused while she was suffering a miscarriage.

The Irish government has decided to repeal legislation that makes abortion a criminal act and to introduce regulations setting out when doctors can perform an abortion when a woman’s life is regarded as being at risk, including by suicide.

Dr James Reilly, the Irish health minister, said that the government was aware of the controversy surrounding abortion.

Ireland’s abortion laws are the strictest in Europe and any proposed legislation to decriminalise abortion will stoke furious debate in Ireland, which remains a staunchly Roman Catholic country.

Enda Kenny, the Irish prime minister, said that draft legislation would be published in the New Year with a timetable of having the legislation ready by Easter.

To ensure the controversial law is passed the government whip would be applied to MPs in the ruling Fine Gael party which is deeply divided over the proposals. “There will be no free vote on this,” said Mr Kenny.

Under current Irish law abortion is criminal unless it occurs as the result of a medical intervention performed to save the life of the mother.

The new legislation will drafted to comply with a landmark ruling in the European Court of Human Rights two years ago and a 1992 Irish Supreme Court decision in the “X case”.

The Irish ruling 20 years ago overturned an injunction preventing a 14-year girl, who had been raped and was suicidal because she could not get a legal abortion, from travelling to Britain to have her pregnancy terminated.

She later had a miscarriage but her case did not lead to legal reform adding to confusion over when abortion was allowed in Ireland.

The reforms are expected to allow the fear of suicide as a ground for abortion but may not provide for rape or sexual abuse, neither of which formed part of the 1992 ruling.

The Indian government intervened in October after the death of Mrs Halappanavar, 31, originally from India, who was 17 weeks pregnant when she developed back pain and tests revealed that she would lose her baby.

via Ireland to legalise abortion – Telegraph.

I have deliberately chosen to use a British publication as my source – as this will reveal Western faultlines. Here is the case of

Savita Halappanavar, 31, originally from India, was 17 weeks pregnant when she developed back pain and tests revealed that she would lose her baby.

But despite her repeated pleas over three days, it emerged earlier this week that doctors refused to perform a termination as they could still hear the foetus’s heartbeat, reportedly telling her: “This is a Catholic country.”

Mrs Halappanavar’s condition rapidly deteriorated and she died after developing septicaemia four days after the death of her baby.

The case has prompted renewed calls for the Irish government to legislate for abortion, with pro-choice campaigners branding her death “an outrage”.

The Indian ambassador to Ireland, Debashish Chakravarti, has taken the concerns of his country about the death to the Irish government and said that he hopes measures will be put in place to prevent similar incidents occurring in the future.

He told the RTÉ, Ireland’s national broadcaster, that her death, which happened last month, was of “deep regret to the Indian people” and that he hoped the inquiry into the circumstances of the tragedy, would be conducted carefully but quickly.

He added that that the death was being taken with “great seriousness” in India and there was a lot of pain felt by the Irish Indian community.

According to the Irish Times, Mr Chakravarti refused to be comment on what the tragic incident said about Ireland as a state.

An inquiry into the death is being led by Ireland’s Health Service Executive’s (HSE) directof of quality and patient safety, Philip Crowley.

James Reilly, Ireland’s health minister, has also sought a report on the circumstances surrounding the tragedy and Galway University Hospital prepared to launch its own investigation.

via India confronts Irish government over woman denied abortion – Telegraph.

There will be strong opposition to this – apart from the Church. Other Western nations will try their best ensure that the Indian Government does not get any credit – for something the European Court of Justice  and the Irish Supreme Court could not do.

The Irish government has announced that it’s going to repeal existing legislation that makes an abortion a criminal offense and introduce regulations that say a doctor can perform an abortion if a woman’s life is regarded as being “at risk” – including if she’s “suicidal”. The semantics of “suicidal” are suspicious. This could turn in to the old “risk to the woman’s health” formula that many countries use and is vague enough to allow abortion on demand. Whatever the result, this is a watershed moment for Ireland. Its political establishment has distanced itself from the country’s Catholic heritage and from the pro-life tradition. Taoiseach Enda Kenny fancies himself as a new Luther.

A few immediate observations. First, the catalyst for this reform was the story of Savita Halappanavar, a woman who went to hospital suffering from a miscarriage, was denied a termination, and later died. Pro-abortion campaigners have used her case to claim that Ireland’s laws kill – that the refusal of an abortion on the grounds of Catholic chauvinism led directly to her passing. But the facts of the case are not that certain. Ireland does theoretically allow abortion under certain cases when the mother’s life is at risk, and it’s not even clear that a termination would have saved Savita’s life. Worryingly, pro-abortion activists had access to the details of her case before they were released by the press. It smacks of politicising a tragedy for the sake of change – and it seems to have worked.

Second, Ireland is changing – or, at least, its establishment is. In previous years, Enda Kenny would have been taking a big risk doing this. During the 2011 election, his party said that it opposed the legalisation of abortion, in deference to Ireland’s Catholic culture. Not only has he U-turned on that, but he’s also said that he won’t allow his party a free vote on the subject. Nor presumably will there be a referendum – a great Irish tradition whereby the political class tries to liberalise the country by decree and then the people vote it down. Kenny – conservative in the same way that David Cameron and Ted Kennedy are conservatives – has tried to define himself as a modernising Prime Minister who will drag his country into the bright future of sexual liberation and a Church decoupled from government. In the past that would have left him politically vulnerable to Ireland’s fair-weather populism. We might have expected Fianna Fail (which is rebounding in the polls) to exploit the switch and challenge him on it. But, this time around, FF is broadly in favour of reform, too. All the mainstream parties are gambling that Ireland has become far more liberal and a lot less Catholic

Any credible opposition will come not from within the Dail but from outside, from the Catholic Church and the large (and rather youthful) pro-life lobby. And so, for the first time in a very long time, we’re set for a serious war between Ireland’s political establishment and its dwindling Catholic faithful.

via Ireland is gearing up for a war between Church and state over abortion – Telegraph Blogs.

Another voice of darkness chimes in with her political baggage.

It took the death of a young mother-to-be to rip up the Irish abortion law.

Savita Halappanavar was pregnant and suffering a miscarriage.

I’m a Catholic but I believe abortion has to be legal. Yes, it is a sin; and yes, there are women who use it as contraception. But the risk of having a long roll call of tragic deaths like Savita’s is too cruel to contemplate. Like divorce, abortion should be available, but reserved as a last-resort nuclear option – and when the mother’s life is in danger is precisely such a scenario.

The Irish U-turn over Savita’s death worries me, though. Is this the right result based on the wrong premise?

I can’t help wondering whether Savita’s tragedy has been used to manipulate public opinion. This does not make her fate any less tragic; it does however raise questions about campaigners blinded by pro-abortion fervour.

via Is Ireland’s abortion U-turn based on a mistake? – Telegraph Blogs.

Between now and Easter is a long time.

The Irish Government will face tremendous pressure in the West. Not based on merits – but on politics. Remember this law is not being changed due to the death of an American woman; or a British citizen. Change in Irish law due to death of a Franco-German tourist could have been acceptable.

How can a Western country, part of EU change laws at the behest of the Indian Government? Due to the death of an Indian women?

But this case may turn out to be like South Africa’s apartheid, where the Indian Government forced a reluctant West to accept sanctions against S.Africa. The global boycott, led by India, made the end of apartheid possible.

After thirty years, India has made it possible to end oppressive Church laws. Full marks to the Irish and Indian governments.

And Godspeed!


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  1. December 19, 2012 at 4:40 am

    how about india itself? where a 20 wk old foetus can be simply killed off/aborted legally-no questions asked. it remains plain murder .savita’s case was one of poor medical judgement.though the miscarriage was certain,the doctor chose to delay the perfectly legal(even in ireland) abortion.

  2. December 19, 2012 at 5:14 am
  1. December 20, 2012 at 12:20 pm
  2. December 22, 2012 at 8:35 pm
  3. December 27, 2012 at 12:46 am

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