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The Pro-Choice/Pro-Life Debate Rages on in Ireland

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By Summun Jafri This week The Irish Times reported the death of a woman at the University Hospital Galway in Ireland. Her death was largely blamed on her doctors' refusal to give her an abortion. Savita Halappanavar, a 31-year-old Dentist, arrived at the hospital when she was seventeen weeks pregnant with complaints of back pain. Doctors were aware that she was miscarrying-- however they refused to terminate the pregnancy. As long as a fetal heartbeat exists, it is against the law for a doctor to perform an abortion in Ireland. Two days later when the fetal heartbeat stopped, the doctors performed the surgery. Sadly, to her family's horror, she passed away shortly after due to blood poisoning.

Savita Halappanavar with husband Praveen

While Halappanavar argued saying ‘I am neither Irish nor Catholic’, she was refused an abortion because Ireland is a “Catholic country”, and that is the law. This tragedy has cause a huge debate in Ireland, as the topic of pro-choice is gaining popular support. A common practice for Irish women is to travel to UK to abort, as the Island’s first abortion clinic only opened last month. While the procedure is accepted in obvious life-threatening circumstances following 1992’s Supreme Court ruling, this was not practiced for Halappanavar. A full investigation into the hospital and this event has been launched by Ireland’s Health Service Executive.

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