Category: World / November 15, 2012 1:10 PM EST
Thousands of people rallied outside Ireland's parliament on Wednesday (November 14) to demand strict abortion rules be eased after a pregnant Indian woman repeatedly denied a termination died in an Irish hospital.
Savita Halappanavar, 31, admitted to University Hospital Galway in the west of Ireland last month, died a week after miscarrying 17 weeks into her pregnancy.
Her repeated requests for termination were rejected because of the presence of a fetal heartbeat.
Abortion remains an extremely contraversial issue in Ireland, an overwhelmingly Roman Catholic country, which has some of the world's most restrictive laws on medical terminations.
Prime Minister Enda Kenny, offered condolences to the woman's family, but said he could not comment further until an investigation into the death.
"There are two reports and investigations going on at the moment -- an internal investigation by the Galway University Hospital Group and the second by the HSE national incident management team. I think it will be very appropriate that the minister for health should receive both those reports as we should consider those reports and decide what the best option from there is," he said.
The Irish Minister for Health James Reilly said for a woman to die while giving birth is upsetting.
"For any woman to die during pregnancy is something that we're all very upset by. I have no knowledge of the full circumstance -- I've seen reports in the paper, I know the HSE are investigating it and I know it will be referred to the coroner and beyond that I don't want to make any statement at this point,"
At least 2,000 people gathered for a candle-lit vigil in Dublin to demand the government legislate to close a legal loophole that leaves it unclear when the threat to the life of a pregnant woman provides legal justification for an abortion.
The news of the woman’s death overnight sparked a wave of anger on Irish social media, with more than 50,000 people sharing Times’ lead story on the issue on Wednesday.
The organizers of the Dublin protest said they expected a much larger crowd at a weekend demonstration and called on people to protest at Irish embassies around the world.