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Savita’s sad story opens debate about abortion

Some of the protestor’s outside Enda Kenny’s office last Wednesday
MAKING THEIR POINT Some of the protestor’s outside Enda Kenny’s office last Wednesday following the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar in Galway. ?Pic: Alison Laredo

Savita’s sad story opens debate about abortion

No confirmation forthcoming of dentist’s work in Westport

Áine Ryan

IT is the tragic story that has gripped all of us for almost a week now. Pictures of this beautiful young woman, Savita Halappanavar, haunt us as we hear further details and reactions to her untimely death at a Galway hospital, while 17 weeks pregnant.
Naturally, when The Mayo News read that this qualified dentist worked until the beginning of her pregnancy as a dental nurse in Westport, we did what all good newspapers do. But each of the small town’s five dental practices in turn responded that the 31-year-old Indian woman never worked with them.
Scratching our heads, we then contacted the HSE yesterday afternoon and put in a formal request asking if she had been employed at their dental services in Westport. We failed to get a response but the Communications Advisor said that even if she did they may not comment because of the sensitivity around her death.
This sensitivity has already transformed into marches and candlelit protests here and around the world. In the words of Sinn Féin Cllr Thérese Ruane this was  ‘a tragedy that should never have happened’. The Castlebar councillor has now urged that the upcoming expert group report ‘be debated fully in the Oireachtas and legislation brought forward immediately for the X case so as to protect the lives of women in this State’.
“My deepest sympathies go out to the family of Savita Halappanavar at this tragic and difficult time. People across the country are grieving; they are shocked that a woman has been put through this ordeal and has lost her life. It is a tragedy that should never have happened. It has been reported that she died of blood poisoning, having spent almost three days in agony, having been refused a termination while miscarrying her child. If that is so, then a young woman has died needlessly and avoidably,” Cllr Ruane said.
“I recall the Minister for Health James Reilly saying that he did not want to be the seventh successive government to fail to take action on the Supreme Court findings on the X Case 20 years ago. It’s time he lived up to his word,” she continued.
Sinn Féin has put a motion before today (Tuesday’s) sitting of the Dáil to ‘immediately’ legislate on the X Case, which is now almost 20 years old and if enacted would clarify vague areas relating to medical abortions.
Meanwhile, Socialist Party MEP Paul Murphy, whose family hails from Castlebar, was the only Irish representative to put his name to a letter – co-signed by 52 other MEPs from all over Europe – to Taoiseach Enda Kenny, about the tragedy.
The letter states: “This tragedy highlights the need for immediate action to introduce legislation for abortion in Ireland. Despite the ruling of the Supreme Court in Ireland in the ‘X Case’ that abortion should be permitted in cases where the mother’s life is in danger, successive governments have failed to legislate for this. In the A, B and C v Ireland case, the European Court of Human Rights found that Ireland had violated the European Convention on Human Rights by failing to provide an accessible and effective procedure by which a woman can have established whether she qualifies for a legal abortion under current Irish law.”

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