A young woman has died in an Irish hospital because successive Irish governments have failed to legislate for a 20-year-old ruling on abortion in life-threatening circumstances. In the wake of Savita Halappanavar’s tragic and unnecessary death, please join us to express solidarity with the many calls for the Irish government to reform legislation as a matter of urgency. The lives of pregnant women must be protected. The government has stalled shamefully on this issue for far too long.
Never again: that is the message being delivered this week by vigils around Ireland and in international cities. Add your voice as, at Barnard – long a bastion of women’s rights – we speak out to let the Irish government know that the world is watching.
What: Candlelight vigil at Lehman Lawn, Barnard College, 3009 Broadway, New York, NY 10027.
When: Monday November 19 at 5pm
Space is limited and preference will be given to CUID holders. Non CUID-holders are welcome and can register if they wish by emailing name/affiliation to firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note that flame-burning candles are not permitted on campus due to fire regulations; flameless (i.e. battery-operated) candles will be provided and guests are also encouraged to bring their own.
Supported by the Barnard Center for Research on Women and by the Departments of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies and English. Called by Belinda McKeon, visiting professor on the Creative Writing Faculty.
Why this event is happening:
On Sunday 28th October, Savita Halappanavar died in an Irish hospital after being denied a termination which would most likely have saved her life. When she was admitted to hospital on October 21st complaining of severe back pain, she was 17 weeks pregnant.
Savita was found to be miscarrying and was assured by doctors that the miscarriage would be over with in a matter of hours. However, her condition did not take its expected course, and Savita was forced to suffer an extremely painful three-day miscarriage, during which her repeated pleas for the foetus to be removed were denied. As long as the foetal heartbeat persisted, she was told, the foetus had to remain in her womb. By way of justification or explanation, the consultant informed Savita that Ireland “is a Catholic country”. Savita, who was Hindu, pointed out that she was neither Irish nor Catholic, to no avail. By the time the foetal heartbeat stopped, she was gravely ill; she had experienced prolonged exposure to infection and had developed septicaemia. Savita died three days later. She was 31 years old. She and her husband had moved to Ireland from India four years previously. Savita’s husband, Praveen, has stated that he and his wife chose Ireland as their home because they had heard it was a good place to start a family.
Under the 1992 “X” case ruling by the Irish Supreme Court, women in Ireland are legally entitled to an abortion when it is deemed necessary to save their life. However, successive Irish governments have neglected to pass legislation to reflect this ruling. Their failure to do so has placed the lives of pregnant women in danger for two decades. There exists no clear guidance for medical professionals on to how to act lawfully in a situation like the one which arose during Savita’s miscarriage. Doctors are restrained from making vital medical decisions by a fear of severe legal consequences. As the Irish Labour Party Senator Ivana Bacik wrote in the Irish Times, legislation is needed “to fulfill our international responsibilities, to provide clarity in our law and most importantly to prevent any further uncertainty for doctors.”
Until this happens, the lives of pregnant women are at risk. Help us to say to the Irish government: Legislate now.