Abortion protesters march in Ireland

Published: Nov. 17, 2012 at 5:01 PM

DUBLIN, Ireland, Nov. 17 (UPI) -- Protesters at candlelight vigils for a woman who died in a Galway hospital after being denied an abortion called for called for a change in Irish abortion law.

Thousands of people, most of them women, rallied Saturday in Irish cities and in London, The Irish Times reported. In Dublin, marchers carried a banner with Savita Halappanavar's picture and the words "Never Again."

Halappanavar died in October at University Hospital Galway after doctors refused to terminate her pregnancy when she went into premature labor, saying they could only remove the fetus when they could no longer detect a heartbeat. Her husband says he was told Ireland is a "Catholic country" when he begged doctors to act.

The government has ordered an investigation into the death, which was only reported this week.

The Abortion Support Network says many of the Irish women who seek its help are desperate to end their pregnancies, The Guardian reported.

The organization provides assistance, and sometimes financial help, to women who must travel to England or Scotland for abortions. Abortion is illegal in both the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland.

The group said, it has helped 335 Irish women and 228 from Northern Ireland in the past three years. The Irish women included 19 who had become pregnant through rape, 21 with severe health problems, 21 who were under 16 years old and six with histories of recent suicide attempts.

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