The recent death of a woman reportedly denied an abortion has sparked outrage. In Dublin, thousands of marchers demanded liberalization of Ireland's tough – and, some say, unclear – anti-abortion laws.
The street protest, the second the city has seen in three days, was called in response to the Oct. 28 death in a Galway hospital of Savita Halappanavar, who was pregnant and arrived at the hospital complaining of severe pain. She was reportedly refused an abortion, and died after complications during a miscarriage. Her widower, Praveen, says they were told this was because Ireland was "a Catholic country."
The death has sparked outrage across Ireland — and the world. One headline in an Indian newspaper's online edition accused Ireland of murdering Ms. Halappanavar.
March organizers claim a turnout of 20,000, but Irish police gave a figure of 6,000. Either way, the march was unusually large by Irish standards, wending its way from the Garden of Remembrance, a national independence memorial, to Ireland's Parliament, DáIl Éireann, just over a mile away.
"The mood was somber and angry and determined," says Wendy Lyon, a feminist activist and trainee attorney who attended the demonstration. "The sense was there has to be a turning point. That things can't be allowed to go on without change. Enough is enough, basically."
Ms. Lyon says Halappanavar's death has resulted in a sea change in Irish opinion, politicizing the previously apolitical: "I think the people really have shifted on it. I've spoken to people who were hesitant before but said something had to be done."