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Why we are marching on Savita's 10th anniversary

ROSA Socialist Feminist Movement, Ireland

October 2022 is the 10th anniversary of the death of Savita Halappanavar. Savita lost her life suffering in agony in a Galway hospital with a healthcare worker explaining she couldn’t help because “this is a Catholic country” and a foetal heartbeat could still be detected. Savita repeatedly begged for, and was denied, what would have been a life-saving abortion after she learned that she was sadly suffering an inevitable miscarriage.

Gone at age 31 so cruelly, so unnecessarily. It was inhuman.

This moment of private tragedy for Savita’s family was a moment of public outrage , sparking a movement from below that took on the obsequious political establishment . This political establishment has presided atop of a backward state that has meshed in Catholic hierarchy influence from its outset.

The movement’s call for “Never Again” was for Savita and all pregnant people’s lives. But also for much more.

Travelling for abortion and gender affirming healthcare — no more!

Catholic Church influence in public health and education — no more !

Culture of Misogyny , LGBTQphobia & racism — no more !

Inequality , injustice, all vestiges of a backward and misogynistic state and system — no more !

ROSA has called a march from the Garden of Remembrance, Dublin 1 to the Dail at 1pm on Saturday 29 October, 10 years after the death of Savita, both to commemorate her and to restate what we vowed following her death— ‘Never Again’.

The issues that flowed from Savita’s death are still pressing. Repeal and the subsequent abortion law has been a seminal achievement, but limits in the law and access are leaving people behind. 375 people had to travel for abortions to England and Wales in 2019; only one in 10 GPs are providing abortion services; only 10 of the 19 maternity hospitals.

In the North, politicians across the sectarian political spectrum in Stormont has actively blocked or delayed progress on abortion rights over and over. Only after a huge movement of pressure and the international embarrassment it caused did the Westminster government intervene but since the law changed in 2020 access is still out of reach for many. Stormont politicians have through their inaction ensured services have not been put in place meaning abortion for many is still not easily or locally accessible on the NHS.

Furthermore, the debacle of the National Maternity Hospital (NMH) shows that Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Greens are unwilling /unable to stand up to the church. This was the first maternity hospital established since repeal and an epic fail for social progress.

There is an epidemic of gender based and homophobic violence, as we’ve seen graphically this year with the murders of Ashling Murphy, Michael Snee and Aidan Moffitt in the South and the shocking rise in femicides in the North in recent years. Despite this we still have massive barriers to the provision of comprehensive sex education in all schools that is LGBT-inclusive and consent-focused. These barriers include the existence of single sex Catholic influenced public schools in the South and a segregated education system in the North in which single-sex education remains the norm with significant control remaining in the hands of Protestant and Catholic churches.

In Poland deaths like that of Savita’s have happened since the abortion ban in 2020. Furthermore, the US Roe V Wade ruling that legalised abortion half a century ago, has frighteningly been overturned raising the appalling vista of yet more similar deaths. Gains made in Ireland, Argentina & Mexico in recent years by mass feminist struggles, are contrasted with brutal backward measures to try to quell the feminist and lgbtq global tidewave that emerged in the 2010s. We will not be dragged backwards! We will march in October in memory of Savita to truly deliver all aspects of the “Never Again” sentiment that launched a movement that achieved an historic victory with repeal . The backwardness of the political establishment continues as shown by the NMH debacle in the South. The Catholic Church is a significant capitalist power as a landowner and the government does not want to rock the boat. There is also a concerted attempt by elements of the media in particular to drum up dangerous and disgusting transphobia.

“Without struggle, there is no progress”. We need to reactivate and deepen the spirit of the repeal movement to force through change and rights.

Savita's 10th anniversary - march for health, equality and bodily autonomy

Saturday 29 October, 1pm Garden of Remembrance D1 -- marching to the Dail

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