Ireland votes to change anti-abortion law; ‘justice’, says Savita Halappanavar’s family
Almost six years after the death of Savita Halappanavar, a 31-year-old Indian immigrant, because of septic miscarriage after she was refused an abortion, Ireland on Friday, May 25, voted overwhelmingly in favour of amending the country's constitution to legally allow women to terminate in a historic referendum.
Out of a turnout of 64.13 per cent, 66.4 per cent voted in favour of the amendment while 33.6 per cent was against it, according to Ireland's Referendum Commission. Early predictions announced that it would be a tight race but it wasn't so eventually.
The death of Halappanavar, a doctor, led to a massive uproar nationally as well as internationally and the latest referendum favouring a change in the law in Europe's one of most socially conservative countries is what its Prime Minister Leo Varadkar called the "culmination of a quiet revolution".
Exit polls said on Friday evening that the voters were estimated to have backed the amendment by more than two-to-one and with the referendum results coming out in favour of change, the government now has plans to enact the law by the end of 2018.
"It's incredible. For all the years and years and years we've been trying to look after women and not been able to look after women, this means everything," Reuters quoted Mary Higgins, obstetrician and Together For Yes campaigner, as saying.
Ireland has been witnessing some key social changes over the past two decades. In 1995, the country legalised divorce by a slight majority while in 2015, it became the first country to adopt gay marriage by popular votes. Its current prime minister is also the country's first openly gay head of government.
Back in India, Halappanavar's father Anandappa Yalagi, a resident of Belgaum, Karnataka, said the referendum result in Ireland finally gave them "justice" and that his daughter's death did not go in vain.