As international pressure mounts on the Irish government to change legislation regarding abortion in the wake of the Savita Halappanavar tragedy, the Irish Voice undertook a survey of Irish people in New York to get their views on the contentious matter, with 72% of 50 people saying that they would favor limited abortion being introduced into Ireland.

Savita died in a Galway hospital in October of septicemia after being refused an abortion. The fetus she was carrying was terminally ill.  Her death attracted headlines around the world.

Jane Mahon, an architect, said she doesn’t consider herself totally pro-choice, but thinks that such a tragedy cannot be allowed happen again.

“I don’t really agree with abortion, but to let a woman die in a hospital like that is not right either. I think maybe it should be allowed in certain cases like rape and if keeping the baby is harmful to the mother, like in the case of Savita. I think it’s all making Ireland look very bad,” she said.

Therese M., undocumented and working in a bar, disagrees. She says abortion is never the right option.

“Finish this sentence…it’s all right to kill a baby when? Everybody says never, but this changes for some reason when the baby is inside a woman. Out of sight out of mind but nobody knows how alive a baby is inside a woman,” she says.

“It’s awful what happened to Savita but a baby should never be punished for that. My grandmother had a hole in her heart and she was told that having a baby may be fatal. She had my mother and died three days later and my mother had seven kids. Having a child is a sacrifice. The right thing to do is always the hardest.”

Jimmy N, also undocumented and working in construction, agrees.  

“Obviously it’s a tragedy and maybe could have been handled a bit better, but I think everybody is just jumping on the bandwagon without really researching the facts, without looking into things and seeing that a death like Savita’s does not happen that often. People are using the tragedy and have an agenda to get abortion into Ireland. Legalizing abortion is not the answer,” he feels.

Claire Nevelle, in New York for a year on a J-1 graduate visa and living in Yonkers, disagrees. She feels Ireland needs to have abortion provisions in place to prevent a tragedy like Savita’s from happening again.

“As usual, the Irish are slow in changing and make a big deal out of everything. As soon as abortion is legalized there will be no issue anymore,” she says.

“If a woman thinks that she cannot raise a child, if she is raped or too young why can’t she make the choice to have an abortion?  Some people are just not meant to be parents. Why do we need to be made a spectacle out of us a country before we make a change?”

John B, living in Queens, agrees that abortion should be legalized but should be monitored closely so it doesn’t get out of control.

“I am personally against abortion, but I’m just very aware of the times and the society we live in. I think abortion should be legalized but should not be abused, having people treat it like contraception,” he says.

“I think people should be responsible. I think if we legalize abortion there should be procedures put in place where a person wanting to get an abortion should be made go to three or four visits with a counselor beforehand to see if abortion is the right option so they can make an informed, educated decision.”