Emma Watson pays tribute to Dr Savita Halappanavar the face of changing Irish abortion law

New Delhi: In a historic move, Ireland voted to liberalise its highly restrictive abortion laws in a referendum this year. At the heart of this change is the tragic death of an Indian woman, Dr Savita Halappanavar, in 2012. In October 28, 2012, the repressive law had cost Dr Halappanavar’s life and made her a symbol of change in Ireland. Now, as the country set to make abortion legal, actor and women rights activist Emma Watson wrote a heartfelt tribute to Halappanavar in the October edition of Porter magazine.

Halappanavar, a dentist by profession had died of sepsis at a hospital in Galway, having been repeatedly denied medical permission to abort her 17-week foetus. In her evocative letter, UN Women Goodwill Ambassador wrote, “You didn’t want to become the face of a movement, you wanted a procedure that would have saved your life. When news of your death broke in 2012, the urgent call to action from Irish activists reverberated around the world – repeal the eighth amendment of the Irish constitution.”

Watson, who is an advocate on women’s issues and launched the UN’s HeForShe campaign in 2014. The 28-year-old also recently chaired a landmark philanthropic summit in London, having personally donated $5 million to gender equality and women’s rights causes over the last 12 months.

Watson said it was a “great honour” to be asked by Porter to “pay the deepest respect to the legacy of Dr Savita Halappanavar”. And also thanked her family for their graciousness and support.

“Sharing their mourning and hope with the world, your family publicly supported the Together for Yes campaign. Celebrating repeal, your father expressed his ‘gratitude to the people of Ireland’,” the open letter read.

“An inquiry showed that there had been 13 opportunities to save Halappavar’s life over the seven days she was under medical supervision, and that she would not have died if she had been allowed to abort the 17-week-old fetus,” the article added.

And asserting her role in the fight for reproductive justice, she added, “From Argentina to Poland, restrictive abortion laws still punish and endanger girls, women and pregnant people. Free, safe, legal and local abortion care is still needed across the globe.”

The letter made people online emotional and many lauded Watson for her efforts.

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