[ View the story "#Savita's death triggers abortion debate" on Storify] #Savita's death triggers abortion debate Irish citizens express outrage and call for legislative action after pregnancy-related death.
Storified by The Stream · Wed, Nov 14 2012 12:58:09
Many Irish citizens expressed shame and outrage that this would happen in their country on religious grounds:
I'm ashamed that Savita Halappanavar died because of this being a Catholic Country . How can this happen in the 21st Century ?Katherine Lynch
I'm ashamed of being called an Irishman today, that catholic nonsense prevalent in our country cost #savita her life.Francis Foley
@hudsonism Its appalling Hudson. I'm Irish and am outraged. Legacy of religious control-This might finally prompt legislative action #SavitaAdam Long
Savita's husband also went on the record, saying: "It was all in their hands and they just let her go. How can you let a young woman go to save a baby who will die anyway? Savita could have had more babies. What is the use in being angry? I've lost her."
Immediately, people drew parallels to an incident in 1992 which prompted judicial intervention when a 14-year-old Irish girl was suicidal after being impregnated by her rapist. The
1992 Supreme Court case
, referred to as the "X case", ruled that women have a right to abortion if their life is at risk, including risks of suicide.
Irish citizens are now calling on elected officials to take legislative action on the X case, using the hashtag
On my way into Dublin for the #actiononx protest at the Dail. Scandaleous we're still protesting for a legislative framework two decades on.Claire McGing
What a needless tragedy; very distressing. No words for this. A direct result of failure of political system for 20 years #actiononXSinead Ni Chulachain
Rónán says the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO)'s guidelines on abortion are not official laws. The IMO
endorsed a ruling by the Irish Medical Council that called for doctors to be taken off the register if they perform an abortion.
The IMO guidelines aren't law. The constitutional right and X-case haven't been legislated for at all. #actiononxRónán Burtenshaw
Many gathered outside the Dáil on Wednesday in remembrance of Savita and called for legislative action:
On Twitter, John O'Neill juxtaposed photos of Irish citizens protesting and calling for policy changes on abortion from 1992 and 2012, highlighting government inaction on the issue over the past 20 years:
Many placed the blame directly on politicians and pointed to their hypocrisy:
The Dáil started as it does every day with a prayer, then politicians from parties who could have legislated wrung their hands. #ActionOnXJoan Collins T.D.
Particular congratulations to @kathleenlynchtd and @ciaramconway who spoke for #actiononx and then voted against. Hypocrites. #xcaseNigel Irritable
@katherinelyncho It's because we've allowed our laws to be drawn up by a bunch of neaderthals. Maybe now we'll find the will to change this.Caroline Newell
One netizen even posted a list of all parliamentary members who voted against legislation to address abortion:
At the center of the online discussion over Savita's case has been the Supreme Court's wording on the types of risks that allow for an abortion. The Supreme Court ruled that a woman had a right to an abortion if there was a "real and substantial risk" to her life, not including risks to her health:
It found that a woman had a right to an abortion under Article 40.3.3 if there was “a real and substantial risk” to her life. This right did not exist if there was a risk to her health but not her life; but it did exist if the risk was the possibility of suicide.Tragedy, shame and outrage as pregnant Savita dies in Irish hospital because of Catholic dogma and political cowardice
Many said the wording distinguishing 'a risk to life' versus 'a risk to health' leads to vague and confusing interpretations of the law:
@KennedySinger It's the grey interpretation of our law that's in question, or at least, that's what I see it as. Dreadful. Stay vocal!Ciarán Behan
There needs to be counter-spin on the spurious arguments from the pro-Life side that the law on life-saving abortions is clear. #actiononxRónán Burtenshaw
@RonanBurtenshaw Anti-choicers don't even believe internal logic of own argument. Supposedly law was broken but none calling for Gardai.Paul Moloney
This distinction of what constitutes a risk to life versus a risk to health sparked strong debates online:
Any medical professional who holds the view that Roman Catholic doctrine supersedes state law should be disbarred immediately. #savitaMaurice Dockrell
@MauriceDockrell He was following state law, which follows Catholic doctrine. The decision was not up to any one individual.Rebecca
@rabbitwho actually it doesn't not since the X case and indeed before it. Caroline Simons specifically ruled this scenario out recently.Maurice Dockrell
@rabbitwho that is not what the law saysMaurice Dockrell
@MauriceDockrell yes it is. Or that's how understand it and certainly the doctors did. There has to be a certainty of life being in danger.Rebecca
@rabbitwho @mauricedockrell I agree re the law here.With no threat to the mother and a still beating foetal heart they could be held liable.lacanlune
@lacanlune @rabbitwho there was a threat to the mother - that is the whole point - interpretation of the law that says otherwise is wrongMaurice Dockrell
@MauriceDockrell @lacanlune If the law is open to interpretation then the law is wrong.Rebecca
Recently, parliamentary member Gerry Adams brought the issue before the Dáil, calling for a timeline for officials to take legislative action. Adams, a Sinn Fein member, admitted even his left-leaning political party does not have a unified opinion on abortion.
Enda Kenny, the prime minister, or Taoiseach, and member of the centre-right Fine Gael party, said two separate investigations are taking place which would produce recommendations with a series of options on how to address cases such as Savita's in the future, "taking into account the constitutional, legal, medical, and ethical considerations". Take a look at the session below:
Gerry Adams raises issue of tragic death of Savita Halappanavarsinnfeinireland
Meanwhile, some have lamented the fact that the 'human issue' of Savita's death was overlooked for theological and political arguments:
This is primarily a human issue, about the life and death of an actual living person, a factor that Catholic Bishops and Irish politicians often seem to forget in their obsessions with the theological status of embryos and foetuses, and the political power of the conservative vote.Tragedy, shame and outrage as pregnant Savita dies in Irish hospital because of Catholic dogma and political cowardice
Best quote I've read all day, from the FB page for the Dublin protest : "#Savita had a heartbeat too."JL Pagano
Some have also alleged that the reason for denying Savita an abortion was racist in nature:
The thought occurs as well that 'this is a Catholic country' is pretty condescending, even racist, in this context. #savitaJames Heslin
"This is a catholic country" I'm wondering was there a racial element to this unnecessary death too? #SavitaJJ Carolan
Imagine the uproar if an Irish woman died in another country, having been denied treatment on religious grounds #SavitaSeamus Conboy
In addition to planned protests in front of parliament and embassies, people have also begun writing letters to elected officials, sometimes telling their personal stories: