Maria Faini and Kim Tran
NOC Featured Blogger
Published: Sunday 2 December 2012
“Women and their children are far better served by programs that advance their quality of life.”

Thirty-one year old Savita Halappanavar died in late October from a miscarriage. News of her death haunts women around the world, providing a valuable lesson in the way arguments for religious “freedom” often contradict the necessity of reproductive health.According to her husband, Praveen, Halappanavar went to the hospital a week prior to her death complaining of severe back pain. Her doctors told her she was having a miscarriage but, when she requested that her pregnancy be terminated, they refused, claiming they could still detect a fetal heartbeat. They added that Ireland “is a Catholic country.” Halappanavar and her husband returned home. Her pain continued for days. She died a short time later.As a country that remains under strong Roman Catholic influence, Ireland is known for having some of the strictest abortion laws of any nation in the world. Although abortion in Ireland has been constitutionally illegal since British rule in 1861, a 1992 Supreme Court ruling exempted cases in which “a real and substantial risk” threatens the woman’s life. Halappanavar’s death is, in part, a result of the ruling’s failure to outline clearly what constitutes such a risk, leaving decisions to medical professionals on a case-by-case basis. Since Halappanavar’s death, more than ten-thousand protesters have filled the streets of Dublin to demand reform to Ireland’s abortion laws.Such legal ambiguities and their consequences illustrate the ways religion-based laws regulating ...

ABOUT Maria Faini and Kim Tran
Maria Faini is a PhD student and instructor at the University of California, Berkeley. Kim Tran is a graduate student in the Ethnic Studies program at the University of California, Berkeley. Her work examines refugee communities, transnational labor, gender and queer studies. She is originally from San Jose, California, a proud survivor of California’s public schools and universities who aspires to think alongside young people in classrooms and community. Her work can be found at www.kimtranpoetry.com
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