Thousands march for abortion rights in Ireland

Associated Press Modified: November 17, 2012 at 3:16 pm •  Published: November 17, 2012
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Speakers from socialist parties, women's groups and abortion rights activists addressed Saturday's crowd from atop a flat-bed truck. They decried the fact that two decades had passed without any political decision to define when hospitals could, and could not, perform abortions.

"Twenty years is far too long. Ignoring women's rights is wrong!" the crowd chanted.

About 1,000 people staged a more prayer-oriented rally in the western city of Galway, where the Halappavanars settled in 2008. Some placed candles spelling SAVITA on the pavement in Galway's central Eyre Square.

Halappanavar's husband Praveen, took her body back to India for a Hindu funeral service and cremation Nov. 3 but intends to return to his job as a medical devices engineer at Boston Scientific in Galway.

The Irish government's inaction on abortion means that the only law on the books dates to British rule in 1861, declaring that the "procurement of a miscarriage" amounts to murder and could be punishable by up to life in prison.

Irish voters in 1992 passed constitutional amendments legalizing the right of Irish women to receive information on abortion services in neighboring England, where the practice has been legal since 1967, and to travel there without fear of facing prosecution. British health authorities estimate that 4,000 to 5,000 Irish residents travel annually to England for abortions.