How an Indian woman made Irish vote to legalise abortion
TNN & Agencies | Updated: May 27, 2018, 05:40 IST
DUBLIN: A vote to repeal one of the world’s most restrictive abortion laws in Ireland was met with quiet celebrations in Savita Halappanavar’s home in Belagavi in Karnataka on Saturday. Savita, a 31-year-old dentist, died at University Hospital Galway in Ireland in 2012 following a septic miscarriage after she was denied an abortion despite asking for one several times.
The first official results of the referendum held on Friday showed that over 66% backed repealing the Eighth Amendment to the Irish Constitution, which outlawed medical termination of pregnancy. Irish PM Leo Varadkar told reporters in Dublin that it was a significant day in the country’s history. “The public have spoken. The result favour of repealing the 8th Amendment. What we see is the culmination of a quiet revolution that has been taking place in Ireland over the last couple of decades,” he said.
The Eighth Amendment prohibited termination in most cases, including rape, incest or fatal foetal abnormality. Savita’s death had triggered a massive debate in the country over the issue of life-saving abortions and resulted in a new law that allows abortions under extreme circumstances. The Irish Parliament voted to legalise abortion in cases of medical emergencies as well as the risk of suicide in July 2013. Saturday’s result paves the way for the Dáil, or Irish Parliament, to legislate for change that would see the introduction of a much more liberal regime.
Savita’s father Anandaneppa Yalagi said he was “really, really happy” at the news. “We have one last request, that the new law is called ‘Savita’s law’. It should be named for her,” he told The Irish Times from his home in Belagavi. “I want to say ‘thank you’ to our brothers and sisters in Ireland for voting ‘Yes’. It is very important.
There has been a lot of struggle for Irish women,” he said. Savita’s parents had been advocating a ‘Yes’ vote in the referendum, and released a video last weekend. The video shows Yalagi and his wife Akkamahadevi holding a portrait of their late daughter. In the video, he said no family should endure the pain and suffering they had, and that they continue to feel sorrow six years later. Savita has been the face of the campaign since the date for the referendum was set eight weeks ago. Posters of her smiling face could be seen on hoardings.
“Almost 10% of people who voted to change the abortion laws say her death directly influenced their decision to vote for change. Over the last two days a shrine dedicated to her has emerged in Dublin, where people have been laying flowers and leaving notes of sorrow and gratitude in her memory,” Kitty Holland, the Irish Times reporter who wrote a book on Savita’s ordeal and the subsequent turn of events, told TOI.
Holland recalled a note that read: “Savita, because you slept many of us woke. Tomorrow we’ll awake to an Ireland less ashamed. Because you came to us our women can now stay with us when they need us. Thank you. Rest in peace.” Hundreds of notes have been fixed to the hoarding beside the mural.
One said: “Sorry we were too late but we’re here now. We didn’t forget about you.” Marcus Bradshaw, 32, who returned home from the Czech Republic to vote ‘yes’, wrote: “We came home in droves for you.” He said being present in Ireland for the referendum was like “watching the Velvet Revolution. The ban on abortion was always about controlling women. This vote is, in some way, about freeing women.”
Liz Fitzpatrick from Dublin said she was struggling with her emotions. “I am so overwhelmed. I was saying to my daughter today, we must never, ever forget her name. I hope her family takes some comfort today when they see how grateful the Irish people are, and how sad,” she told Holland. Despite the relief, Yalagi has regrets. “My daughter was full of life. My agony is that Savita is not with us; she remains only in our memories,” he said.
Nrindianguy - New York - 5 hours ago -Follow
There is more to the story. Why didn''t she go to India or anywhere else to get an abortion when her health was in danger? where were her parents or friends then? How stupid some people are, may be at old age, she wanted to deliver her baby even if fetus wasn''t in the uterus! Sad.
Sainath Kalpathy - Secunderabad - 3 hours ago -Follow
Deeply Catholic n fanatically following the anti abortion policy of church was the mistake. Good correction is in place.
S Reader - Location - 3 hours ago -Follow
Sad to know that she had to die inorder to bring the change in the inappropriate law. But glad to know that the Irish society immediately responded by ammending the law inorder to avoid such recurrence. Her death has not gone in vain and she will be the Hero for bringing this positive change.
Pervinder Sangwan - 1 hour ago -Follow
Great ..slute to Irish people..Atleast they are open to amend their constitution..Here in india even you talk about any amendment..Their will be a agitation supported by all federal front chor political parties headed by congress..
5 DR.MAHADEVAN IYER
DR.MAHADEVAN IYER - 3 hours ago -Follow
probably too sick to travel
Kumar - 3 hours ago -Follow
middle eastern countries are far better than this fanatic Christian Evangelical animals country like Ireland. similarly all Catholics in India are fanatical animals and they joined together on recent protests in Tamil nadu. most of the Tamil nadu is infested by this fanatical Christian animals by rampant conversions.