Proposed law not sufficient, say Savita Halappanavar’s parents
‘They must change the law to save women’s health, not just her life’
Savita Halappanavar: her parents believe the Government’s proposed abortion legislation does not go far enough
The parents of Savita Halappanavar have said the Government’s proposed abortion legislation does not go far enough to save women’s lives.
In an interview with The Irish Times in India, Andanappa Yalagi and his wife Akamahadevi expressed shock that Irish law did not permit abortion to protect women’s health in cases of rapidly escalating conditions such as sepsis.
“They must change the law to save women’s health, not just her life. Women’s health is as important as a man’s. If the law does not do that, Savita has been sacrificed for nothing. How many Savitas do they want?” Mr Yalagi said.
“They must look after Irish women. We would like a law that saves women,” he said.
Ms Halappanavar died at Galway University Hospital last October, having been admitted miscarrying at 17 weeks of pregnancy. A Health Service Executive report on her death found there had been an apparent overemphasis on the need not to intervene until the foetal heartbeat stopped and not enough emphasis on the need to focus on managing the risk of infection.
Senator will not back Bill
Separately, another Fine Gael Senator has become the latest member of the parliamentary party to confirm he will not support the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill as it stands. Tom Sheahan from Kerry revealed he was prepared to go further than other opponents in Fine Gael.
“I’d quit the party before I’d vote against the party because I’ve serious issues with the legislation,” he said. Mr Sheahan said he was concerned about the inclusion of a suicide clause and the lack of a time limit stating how late into a pregnancy a termination can be performed.
“I’m not in any camp. This is a personal view. I’ve asked several Fine Gael people if we were in Opposition how would you vote, and they said we’d vote against it.”
Government sources have denied that high-profile criticism of the legislation will affect the passage of the Bill through the Oireachtas. Minister of State for European Affairs Lucinda Creighton and former director of public prosecutions Éamonn Barnes have revived the argument that legal representation should be granted to the unborn.
A leading Irish expert on constitutional law has said the idea the Attorney General or her representative would “turn up in a hospital” for a routine hearing for a woman wishing to have a termination was “ludicrous”. Prof Fiona de Londras, professor of law and co-director of the Durham Human Rights Centre at Durham University, said the Bill already created a formula for balancing the rights to life of the unborn and the pregnant woman required under the Constitution and there was “no need” for a separate legal advocate for the unborn.
Minister of State in the Department of Finance Brian Hayes said Mr Barnes’s suggestion, outlined in an article in The Irish Times on Saturday, was not practical. He predicted the “great majority” of the Fine Gael parliamentary party would back the Bill and defectors would be small in number. Minister of State at the Department of Health Alex White said it would be inappropriate to introduce a legal procedure with separate representation for the unborn.