When I was growing up in Greece, my grandparents often told me that if I didn’t eat my food, they would call the Gypsies to take me away. Sadly, the old myths about Roma snatching babies were revived after police took a little blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl named Maria into custody in a Roma settlement in Farsala, central Greece, on October 16.
Irish legislators should take decisive action to safeguard in law the right of women and girls to terminate a life-threatening pregnancy, and explore further reforms to the countries’ near total ban on abortion. The Irish Human Rights Commission should advise the law makers on how current restrictive laws violate women’s human rights and put the lives and health of women and adolescent girls at risk.
The tragic death of a woman denied an abortion in Ireland should catalyze the Irish government to fulfill its international human rights obligation to ensure access to safe and legal abortions. Savita Halappanavar, 31, who was 17 weeks pregnant, died from septicemia on October 28, 2012 at a hospital in Galway after she was refused an abortion and miscarried.
I'd already been in Ireland for a few days, working on a report on Ireland's restrictive abortion laws, when I met Aisling. "Keep your voice down," she said, closing her office door and sitting behind her desk. The walls were thin, and she didn't want her colleagues to overhear us talking about her abortion.