Yesterday I found out that a 31 year old woman, Savita Halappanavar, had died because of my country's archaic laws. The laws that should have been signed into legislation over twenty years ago.
The pro-life response was predictable as usual. Accusations of the pro-choice side "exploiting the tragedy" and using Savita's death as a "political football". While we're on that there was no mention of the horrific images used by the likes of Youth Defence and their ilk. There was no mention of their using images of miscarriages and parading them as pictures of abortion. There was no mention of the vigils for the baby in the X-case (despite that baby being miscarried and not aborted), no mention of the Youth Defence member who 'wistfully sighed' "He could have been my husband". Well here's some news Savita WAS somebody's wife, no 'could have' about it, she WAS Paveen's wife, she WAS somebody's daughter, she WAS a living, breathing human being with a myriad of interests and hopes and dreams. She was a Hindu living in Ireland who was told that "we are a Catholic country". We ARE NOT a Catholic country, countries don't have a religion - people do. Ireland is, or at least is supposed to be, a republic. A republic that is supposed to serve the needs of all it's people regardless of their creed, colour, sexual orientation or anything else. A republic whose hospital service should give the optimum care to everybody regardless. Alas it appears we are a republic in name only, Ireland does not serve or care about the health of its women. Ireland is a country that prioritises an already miscarrying foetus over the life of its mother. Savita and her family have paid the price for this.
Many times we have been told that there is no such thing as a life-saving abortion. Many times people have stood up and protested and said there was and is a clear need to legislate. Many times people protested that the lack of legislation could cost women their lives and still that old lie was the governments response. Last April the Medical Treatment Bill 2012 was tabled before the Dáil. A Bill that may have gone some of the way of preventing a death like this. ONE HUNDRED AND ELEVEN TDs voted against this Bill, including the three from my own constituency. In my constituency Labour TD Jack Wall, Fine Gael TD Martin Heydon and Fianna Fáil TD Sean O' Fearghail voted against that Bill. One of those TDs consistently received my number 1 vote in every election but NEVER AGAIN. Never again in my lifetime will any of those TDs ever get my vote. Through the National Women's Council of Ireland I contacted those TDs a short while ago asking them to prioritise legislating to protect women’s lives in line with the judgement of the Supreme Court in the X case and the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights in the A, B and C v Ireland case.
NOT ONE OF THEM RESPONDED
Then the news broke the night before last. The news broke of the needless death of a young woman. A death caused by the political cowardice of the TDs in my constituency and their national counterparts.
The time has come for change. The time has come for this government to stand up and do their job after more than twenty long years. The time has come for the so called democratic government of the so called republic of Ireland to do their duty and legislate for what the people voted for in several referenda. The time has come for no more shame and no more deaths. If the government can't do their job then they need to leave - NOW.
There was a protest vigil for Savita outside Dáil Eireann last night and there will be another vigil this Saturday 17th November at 4pm beginning in the Garden of Remembrance and going to the Dáil again.
We need to ensure that this never happens again.
Rest in Peace Savita Halappanavar
The whole world is watching us.