The face of Savita Halappanavar is linked within the troubling events of recent Irish history. Today is the 4th anniversary of her death at the Galway hospital. This young dentist was promised a good future with her husband in Ireland. They wanted to have a family together, until the laws of the country led her to a tragic death.
What happened in the last four years? Not much.
After the great success of marriage equality, the campaign to repeal the 8th amendment have risen again. It is time for Ireland to protect pregnant women and avoid cases like Savita’s. When you consider equal the life of a foetus and the woman who is carrying it, something is wrong. It is obvious that doctors should try to save them both in case of distress, but in the end women should make the right choice for themselves and should be the priority.
Doctors in Ireland are confused because of a very strict regulation. The so-called “pro-life” movement claims that they could have saved Savita within the current legislation. But they did not. Because they had to wait for the last heartbeat of the foetus to think about rescuing Savita. Too late. The baby was gone, and so the mother. They should have tried to save her first as the foetus was clearly not viable, but they were too scared to do so.
I am not even starting with the fact that most of hospitals are closely linked to the Catholic church, which would put them in a very difficult position if the legislation were ever to change. Don’t get me wrong, I respect religious views and values. The tiny problem is that Ireland is changing, fast.
Take Savita for instance. She was originally from India, from a different background and with different beliefs. She was imposed a Catholic view on her body. Last time I checked, the Catholic church has still a strong influence on Irish state and society, but legally Ireland is supposed to protect all its citizens, no matter what their religious background is. Well, that was the spirit of the Easter Rising proclamation anyway. At the time it was meant to be inclusive for protestant people, but it is still relevant today.
So what did we learn in four years?
That Ireland is very good to hide sensitive topics under the carpet. But I would love to think that Savita did not die in vain. That under the international pressure, the intense lobby group of passionate pro-choice campaigners, Ireland will repeal soon the shameful 8th amendment.