Denied abortion, Indian woman dies in Ireland


By Team FI

Savita Halappanavar, a 31-year-old Indian woman died at the Galway hospital in Ireland, after being denied a life-saving abortion, reports Galway Pro-Choice organisation.

On October 21st, Savita Halappanavar was admitted to the University College Hospital, Galway, after complaining of severe back pain. Though asked at first to go home as her doctor expected her condition to be fine, Savita suffered a miscarriage. She was then told that the foetus had no chance of survival and that it would be all over within a few hours.

However, the foetal heartbeat continued over next two days and repeated requests by Savita and her husband to remove the foetus were denied. By Tuesday, her cervix had been fully open for nearly 72 hours, increasing the risk of infection. Savita developed septicemia. The foetus was not removed until Wednesday afternoon, when the foetal heartbeat stopped. Her condition did not improve and she died on Sunday, October 28th.

According to a press statement by Galway Pro-Choice, had the foetus been removed when it became clear that it could not survive, her cervix would have been closed and her chance of infection would have been reduced.

Though abortion is illegal in Ireland, in 1992, the Irish Supreme Court ruled that Irish women are entitled to abortion when it is necessary to save their life. However, this legislation was never passed. Leaving a woman’s cervix open constitutes a clear risk to her life. What is unclear is how medics in the country are expected to act in this situation.

“Deaths like Savitas’ are the most severe consequence of the criminalisation of abortion…We must reflect long and hard on the implications of Savita’s tragic and untimely passing, and we must act to ensure that such a tragedy never happens again.” says Sarah McCarthy of Galway Pro-Choice.

“We have to understand that the real, devastating tragedy of Savita’s story is a part of a larger picture. Irish governments have repeatedly failed to clarify the legal status of abortion in Ireland. We don’t yet know how many Savitas have died in our hospitals before in similar circumstances”. States Feminist Society of the National University of Ireland, Galway.

For years now, women’s rights activists in the country have been demanding legalisation of abortion.

Photo courtesy: The Irish Times

Related reading: The Silencing of Women: The Irish Abortion Laws and Religion



  1. D says:

    Rest in peace Savita, I am so sorry our government failed you.

  2. Thank you for your solidarity and support. The tragic demise of Savita has shocked and saddened all of us in the Irish feminist community. If you want to help us put pressure on the government, you can sign this petition:
    And email an Irish poltician:
    May Savita rest in peace.

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