The journalist who broke the story of Savita Halappanavar has said the real issues raised by the mother-to-be’s death have yet to be fully discussed.
Kitty Holland, a reporter with the Irish Times and daughter of prominent Derry civil rights commentator Eamonn McCann, said the atmosphere around the debate into maternal rights and the rights of the unborn remains “completely toxic”.
Ms Holland, who has just released her book ‘Savita: The Tragedy that Shook a Nation’, said that while the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act - which came into law earlier this year - was “an exceptionally significant piece of legislation”, it did not go far enough.
“What this marks is the start of a long process. It may be the most significant piece of legislation in this issue in decades but in terms of the entire issue - of a woman’s right to have a say in what happens to her - it falls well short.
“Even now when we speak about Savita, the debate remains about whether or not she should have been allowed to have a termination.
“No-one asks what she may have wanted, and until a woman can have that say, tragedies may still happen.
“There is no doubt we have a long way to go - and public opinion is ripe for that debate - but the issue remains completely toxic to so many and it is hard to see when and how that will change.”
Ms Holland said she knew as soon as she got the tip-off about the Savita story she was “onto something huge”.
“I knew that if events were as I was told - which they turned out to be - it would a story of huge significance and one which would cause convulsions throughout the country.
“And it did.”
She admits that for the last year the story of Savita has “consumed her” and that it is one she feels exceptionally passionate about.
“This is likely to be the biggest story I will ever cover, and one which has had huge historical importance.”
But behind the headlines Kitty has been determined to tell the story not only of the political debate into the issue of maternal rights but also to talk about the person Savita was and the impact her loss has had on her family, most of all on her husband Praveen.
“It was important for me also to reflect what Praveen was going through in the aftermath of his wife’s death,” she said.
‘Savita: The Tragedy that Shook a Nation’ is published by Transworld Ireland and is priced at £14.99.
(See also Page 16)