Protests Erupt Over Woman Who Died After Being Denied Abortion

Savita Halappanavar died after an Irish hospital refused to give her an abortion; following her death, thousands of protestors took to the streets. posted on

1. On Wednesday, a woman named Savita Halappanavar died in an Irish hospital following a miscarriage.

Julien Behal, PA / AP

She’d been admitted to University Hospital Galway, when she was 17 weeks pregnant, in severe pain, and was quickly found to be miscarrying. After three days, she died of septicemia, or blood poisoning, which might have been avoided if the fetus had been aborted immediately. Savita was denied the procedure, according to The Telegraph, because her doctors could still hear the fetus’s heartbeat. “This is a Catholic country,” she was reportedly told, although Savita was neither Catholic nor Irish (she was Indian and a Hindu). She was 31 years old.

2. Thousands of people attended a candelight vigil in her honor outside the Irish parliament.

Peter Muhly / AFP / Getty Images

The vigil served as a protest against Ireland’s vague abortion laws; although the constitution bans abortions outright, in 1992 the Supreme Court ruled in favor of legalizing it when the woman’s life is in danger. However, the law was never changed.

Peter Muhly / AFP / Getty Images
Peter Muhly / AFP / Getty Images
Peter Muhly / AFP / Getty Images

6. Protesters also demonstrated outside University Hospital Galway, which had refused the abortion.

Cathal Mcnaughton / Reuters

7. The Irish health authority has since launched an inquiry, and the government has pledged to clarify the laws.

Cathal Mcnaughton / Reuters

According to Reuters, Deputy Prime Minister Eamon Gilmore said before parliament, “I don’t think as a country we should allow a situation where women’s rights are put at risk in this way.”

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