Hundreds of people attended candlelight vigils in Ireland and India on Monday night to mark the first anniversary of the death of Savita Halappanavar.
In Ireland vigils were held in Galway – where 31-year-old dentist Savita died – and in Dublin and Cork. A vigil was also held in India, in her home town of Belguam.
Savita’s husband, Praveen, didn’t attend any of the vigils but spent the day with friends in Galway who comforted him on the anniversary of her death on October 28, 2012.
In Galway, candles were lit in front of a single picture of Savita with the words “For Savita, Never Again.”
A lone singer gave a rendition of “Nancy Spain,” and ended it simply with “Savita, we will never forget your name.”
Vishali Valluri, who was a close friend of Savita, said her group was struggling to believe a year had passed since her tragic death.
“We thought she would make it. I never thought she would die. It’s still very hard every day but especially today,” she said.
Savita and her husband had moved to Galway and looked forward to starting a family there, but she died at the city’s University College Hospital within days of presenting with signs of miscarriage.
A report three weeks ago by the Health Information and Qualify Authority (HIQA) on the death of Savita pointed to 13 “missed opportunities” in her care.
Savita was 17 weeks pregnant with the couple’s first child when she was admitted to the hospital complaining of back pain. She died a week later from septicemia following a miscarriage.
Her death caused a storm of controversy, reigniting the abortion debate amid claims by her 34-year-old husband that doctors had said she could not have an abortion because Ireland was a Catholic country. A midwife later admitted at the inquest that she made that comment.
Galway Mayor Padraig Conneely, who attended the anniversary vigil in the city, said, “This is the city Savita had lived in. Both she and her husband had made their homes here and it is important that we don’t forget her.”