Savita Halappanavar is dead. She joins millions of women who die every year from complications with their pregnancies. What makes her case particularly tragic is that she was refused a medical procedure that may have saved her life. Why? Because the procedure was an abortion and she had the misfortune of being pregnant in the Republic of Ireland, a country with some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the world. Savita was admitted to hospital, informed that she was miscarrying and the fetus was not going to survive but according to her husband Praveen denied an abortion because the fetus still had a heartbeat. So the hospital staff waited until it didn’t. And then she died too.
For a deeper glimpse into what anti-choice policies really look like in ‘real life’ let’s trace the Titanic back across the Atlantic: to Ireland and its 100-year-old notions of women’s reproductive rights. The most radical modern-day U.S. Republicans would find little to complain about in a country with a constitutional ‘right to life’ for the unborn and an 1861 act inherited from the UK banning abortion. More than 4,000 women are forced to leave Ireland’s shores every year to deal with unwanted and dangerous pregnancies, essentially ‘exporting’ this medical issue to other countries and downloading the costs to women and their families.