Think of your own daughters say parents of Savita Halappanavar

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Savita Halappanavar is a household name in Ireland.

The death of the Indian woman was a defining moment in the nation’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.

Savita's image features on Yes campaign posters Think of your own daughters say parents of Savita Halappanavar Think of your own daughters say parents of Savita Halappanavar skynews savita halappanavar 4318231
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Savita’s image features on Yes campaign posters in Ireland

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.

Days before the historic referendum, Sky News travelled to southwest India to meet the parents of the woman who has become the face of the “yes” campaign.

Her mother, Akhmedevi Yalagi, said she had “no tears left to cry” for her daughter, an up-and-coming dentist, and misses the sound of Savita’s voice.

“She used to talk to us daily,” she said. “She would call to ask ‘what are you doing, what is your routine today?’

“There should be some mercy, at least when the mother’s life is at risk. The abortion should be done.”

“What is religion if it wants to take away life?” she asked.

People protested in front of the Irish embassy in New Delhi when Savita died in 2012 Think of your own daughters say parents of Savita Halappanavar Think of your own daughters say parents of Savita Halappanavar skynews abortion savita halappanavar 4318209
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People protested in front of the Irish embassy in New Delhi when Savita died in 2012
The were also protests in Dublin in the months after the 31-year-old died Think of your own daughters say parents of Savita Halappanavar Think of your own daughters say parents of Savita Halappanavar skynews savita halappanavar 4318212
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There were also protests in Dublin in the months after the 31-year-old died

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.

Archbishop Eamon Martin said: “The last big referendum in Ireland was an equality referendum, talking about marriage equality, and yet this particularly referendum is to remove equality from our constitution.

“It’s a rather amazing situation that we’re going into the constitution to remove a right and we’re actually going in there to remove the fundamental right to life from all unborn children.”

Archbishop Eamon Martin Think of your own daughters say parents of Savita Halappanavar Think of your own daughters say parents of Savita Halappanavar skynews archbishop eamon martin 4318232
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Archbishop Martin says the vote could remove equality from the constitution

Savita’s father, Andanappa Yalagi, said they could never have imagined losing their daughter as they knew nothing about Ireland’s abortion laws.

“Because she was there in Ireland, she lost her life. If she was in India and some other countries, it could have happened, we would have had an abortion,” he said.

Flicking through photographs of his daughter in an album, he urged people to think about their own daughters before deciding how to vote.

A portrait of Savita Halappanavar who died after allegedly being refused an abortion in Ireland Think of your own daughters say parents of Savita Halappanavar Think of your own daughters say parents of Savita Halappanavar skynews savita halappanavar 4111494
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Savita died of blood poisoning on 28 October 2012

“We want them to see Savita’s fate, what happened to Savita. You are also having daughters. You must know that one should not have the same fate as Savita,” he said.

“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.”

Belgaum in southwest India might be 5,000 miles from Dublin but there are few places where Ireland’s decision will be more significance than in Savita’s home town.

If the constitutional ban on terminations is overturned, her parents hope Ireland will honour her memory by naming any new abortion legislation Savita’s Law.



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