Doctors and protesters join growing clamour for a change in the abortion law

 

Galway

Irish abortion laws have become “like a sword of Damocles” hanging over doctors because there are grey areas where they were left at risk of committing a criminal offence, according to the leading consultant obstetrician Dr Peter Boylan.

"Politicians need to act," he said yesterday. "We need to start acting like an adult state and get on with it."

Judging from the streets, the airwaves and the internet, almost the entire country seemed to be seething about the treatment of Savita Halappanavar, the Indian dentist who died after she was refused a termination of her pregnancy.

On Eyre Square in Galway, the anger was palpable. Several women actually shook with anger as they spoke of the fate of Mrs Halappanavar. A typical response came from retired African aid worker Paud Murphy, who said: "It's awful, it's a disaster. I just feel very upset about it, as an awful lot of people do. We have to legislate so that it never happens again."

A vigil is to be held in the square tomorrow night. Some blame the medical profession but most anger was focused on the politicians who, it was widely said, had for two decades run away from clarifying abortion law.

Outside the Dail in Dublin on Wednesday night one of the protesters held a placard bearing the words: "Savita had a heartbeat too."

There remains a substantial minority resistant to change, including Rebecca Roughneen, a 27-year-old graphic designer and an organiser of the anti-abortion group Mayo Youth Defence. When she heard of the death, she said, "I thought it was horrific – really, really tragic. My heart went out to that family." But she added: "Nobody's really sure why she died, and I'd be afraid of the pro-abortion people using this to further their own agenda."

Earlier this month, an anti-abortion rally called by her group attracted several thousand people to Castlebar, home town of the Prime Minister, Enda Kenny. While much of the power of the Irish Catholic Church has ebbed, Ms Roughneen's group boasts it has been called "the cutting edge of the pro-life movement." It maintains: "We know that abortion is always wrong."

Attempts to change the law are sure to meet resistance. But opposition to abortion has faded and the Halappanavar case has roused public anger. Government minister Brian Hayes, admitted the issue has "festered away for many years". There was a resolve in the cabinet, he said, that "action in some shape or form will follow".

News
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
News
Boris Johnson may be manoeuvring to succeed David Cameron
i100
News
peopleHis band Survivor was due to resume touring this month
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
News
In this photo illustration a school student eats a hamburger as part of his lunch which was brought from a fast food shop near his school, on October 5, 2005 in London, England. The British government has announced plans to remove junk food from school lunches. From September 2006, food that is high in fat, sugar or salt will be banned from meals and removed from vending machines in schools across England. The move comes in response to a campaign by celebrity TV chef Jamie Oliver to improve school meals.
science
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Life and Style
fashionPart of 'best-selling' Demeter scent range
News
i100
Sport
Tom Cleverley
footballLoan move comes 17 hours after close of transfer window
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
footballRadamel Falcao and Diego Costa head record £835m influx
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Deputy Education Manager

Negotiable: Randstad Education Sheffield: Deputy Education Manager (permanent ...

Science Teacher Urgently required for October start

£6720 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Nottingham: We are currently recr...

ICT Teacher

£120 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Group: We are looking for an outstandi...

Art & Design Teacher

£120 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Group: We are looking for an outstandi...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering