independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

Edinburgh protest over abortion row

Protesters during a march in O'Connell Street, Dublin, to demand legislation on abortion after the death of Savita Halappanavar

Campaigners in Scotland are to stage a protest in support of greater access to abortions for women in Ireland.

Protesters will hold a demonstration outside the Irish Consulate in Edinburgh.

It comes in the wake of the death of Savita Halappanavar, who died last month, with her husband claiming she was denied an abortion as she miscarried 17 weeks into her pregnancy. She died on October 28 after contracting septicaemia.

But her husband Praveen Halappanavar has said his wife was denied an abortion by staff at Galway University Hospital on medical grounds because a foetal heartbeat was present.

The Edinburgh protest coincides with similar events at the Dail and Irish embassies across the world. Since the death of Mrs Halappanavar, the Dublin Government has come under heightened pressure to reform the country's complex abortion laws.

The current coalition is the seventh Irish government which has failed to legislate on the back of the 1992 X Case where the Supreme Court ruled a teenage girl who had been raped and became pregnant should have the right to travel for an abortion.

But Sinead Daly, one of the organisers of the protest in Edinburgh, said reforms needed to go further than that.

Ms Daly, an Irish citizen living in Scotland, said the "tragic" case of Mrs Halappanavar "points to the need that legislation would go beyond the terms of the Irish Supreme Court ruling on the X case, as this in itself would not guarantee that Savita or any other pregnant woman in the future would get the treatment that they would require".

She said: "The X case rulings only allows for an abortion if there is a real and substantive risk to a woman's life, as opposed to her health, and it seems that it was this very restrictive stipulation that may have been used to justify not giving Savita the termination she needed.

"We reject the counter posing of the health of a woman to her life, in 21st-century Ireland are they saying that women's health doesn't matter? It is now necessary for the right to free, legal and safe abortion to be available in this country."

Press Association

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