The case of Savita Halappanavar, a 31-year-old Indian dentist who died of blood poisoning at Galway University Hospital in Ireland in October 2012 after she was denied a life-saving abortion, is among the significant cases, promoting Ireland to vote by a landslide to legalise abortion in a stunning outcome that marks a dramatic defeat for the Catholic church’s one-time domination of the Republic.
The Irish electorate voted by 1,429,981 votes to 723,632 in favour of abolishing a controversial constitutional amendment that gave equal legal status to the lives of a foetus and the woman carrying it. The result was a 2/3rd yes majority to 1/3rd no. Importantly the voting yes was unexpectedly in large numbers to abolish the eighth amendment to the Irish constitution. The Eighth Amendment, which effectively has its roots as far back as 1983, prohibited termination in most cases, including rape, incest or fatal foetal abnormality.
Welcoming the massive endorsement in favour of reform, Ireland’s Indian-origin Prime Minister, Leo Varadkar, promised to introduce legal terminations by the end of this year. The country has enabled the government in Dublin to introduce abortion in Ireland’s health service up to 12 weeks into pregnancy.
Savita’s father Anandaneppa Yalagi said he was “really, really happy” at the news “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 also had released a video. 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.