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Ireland cabinet to take up abortion report amid protests

November 19, 2012 19:02 IST

The Irish cabinet will take up the report of an expert group on abortion on Tuesday even as thousands of people in Ireland protest the tragic death of an Indian dentist.

Irish Health Minister James Reilly has said he will be bringing the report of the expert group to the Cabinet on Tuesday.

Savita Halappanavar, 31, died in an Irish hospital in October after doctors refused to terminate her pregnancy despite telling her that she was miscarrying.

She died of blood poisoning after spending three days in pain and agony.

Speaking to Ireland's National Television & Radio Broadcaster RTE News on Sunday, Reilly extended his sympathies to Halappanavar's family.

"I have read the report and I need to study it further. It is a hugely complex issue that has divided the country and we are not going to solve it in a matter of weeks," he said.

It would be a "derogation of duty" not to deal with the issue, he said, adding that every woman had the right to have legal clarity regarding the treatment available to her.

In his view, it could be early 2013 before the government's position is made clear.

Reilly's comments came a day after thousands of people attended candle-light vigils in Dublin, Galway, Kilkenny, Carlow and London to demand that the government review the legislation on abortion following the death of Savita.

The Dublin march was headed by a giant banner stating 'Never Again', adorned with images of 31-year-old Savita.

Organisers of the Dublin march said nearly 20,000 people had turned out.

"Twenty years is far too long; ignoring women's rights is wrong," was bellowed from a megaphone at the front of the procession as loud cries of 'Never Again' filled the air.

"The anger extends beyond Ireland," organiser Sinead Kennedy of the Irish Choice Network told the crowd as they huddled in the rain at the beginning of the march.

"For more than 20 years we have seen political cowardice and inaction on this issue. The theme of this march is Never Again. Never again will a woman be allowed to die," she said.

Earlier, members of the Indian community in Galway held another ceremony outside University Hospital Galway, where they lay white roses under a photograph of Halappanavar.

H S Rao In London
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