Ireland to vote on May 25 for historic abortion referendum after death of Savita Halappanavar from Belagavi

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Not many in Belagavi would know Savita Halappanavar, but Savita is a household name in Ireland as her death was a defining moment in Ireland’s soul-searching on abortion.

The 31-year-old, who was miscarrying her first baby, was refused a termination in a Galway hospital five years ago. She died of blood poisoning. Halappanavar, a dentist fromBelagavi, was 17 weeks pregnant with her first child when she sought advice at University Hospital Galway for intense back pain on Sunday 21 October 2012.


The fact that a midwife had told her “this is a Catholic country” sparked protest and set Ireland on course to this week’s vote on whether or not repeal its constitutional ban on abortion.

Andanappa Yalagi, whose daughter died after a miscarriage at a Galway hospital, hopes the referendum will change the law.

I hope the people of Ireland remember my daughter Savita on the day of the referendum, and that what happened to her won’t happen to any other family,” Andanappa Yalagi said.

He said his daughter’s death at the age of 31 had devastated the family. “It’s still very emotional after five years. I think about her every day. She didn’t get the medical treatment she needed because of the eighth amendment. They must change the law.”

But the leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland told me the vote taking place on Friday is not about religion but about human rights and equality.

“We are asking for abortion to be carried out. They have to change their laws. That was the fight, the demand from day one and now that the referendum is going on, they need to vote yes.” Andanappa Yalagi added.


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