During the agony Savita Halappanavar endured before her death, she made her husband promise not to reveal to her family that she was ill. The mass-market English-language paper, the Times of India reported that her parents, Andanappa and Akkamahadevi Yalagi, received the shattering news a few days after she died. Halappanavar’s father described his daughter as a “bold and intelligent woman with big dreams.”
While the hashtag Savita continues to trend across Twitter, protestors in Dublin are preparing for a candle-lit vigil to be held in the city centre on Nov. 17. Organizers predict that they will be joined by thousands holding vigils across Ireland, the U.K. and Belgium. A protest is planned in New York on Monday. Demonstrators took to the streets of New Delhi and Bangalore on Nov. 16.
Two inquiries into the death are being carried out by the hospital and by the HSE, the Irish Health Service Executive. Meanwhile, an expert report on recommendations for Irish abortion legislation has been presented to the Irish parliament. A spokesman for the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, told TIME that “the Government has established a comprehensive investigation into the circumstances surrounding [Savita’s] death. The findings of that investigation will be made known to Government as soon as it is completed.”
Rapid responses have not been a feature of Ireland’s long abortion debate. For 20 years Irish governments have delayed legislation that would have clarified abortion law. Savita Halappanavar’s case may prove a turning point.
That is a hope that remains for her family. Her mother told the Times of India she believes her daughter will only attain “moksha” [the end of death and rebirth cycle in Hinduism] after the Irish authorities clarify existing legislation on abortion. “Everybody should force the Ireland government to amend its laws,” she said. Savita’s widower told journalists that although he has decided not to pursue legal action, he intends to lobby the Irish government to permit abortions if a mother’s life is at risk.