Irish people have turned out at the polling booths on Friday, May 25 to vote whether the country's Eighth Amendment, the strict abortion law, should repeal or change. 

The Eighth Amendment, which was added to the Constitution of the Republic of Ireland in 1983, "acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right."

Mural of Savita Halappanavar
Flowers are left at the foot of a new mural of Savita Halappanavar put up on the day of the Abortion Referendum on liberalising abortion laws in Dublin, Ireland May 25, 2018.REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

The Indian woman Savita Halappanavar's death had given the much-needed push for the decades-long debate about abortion in the Republic of Ireland. Halappanavar died in 2012 at University Hospital Galway due to blood poisoning and was also denied a life-saving abortion despite the fact that her miscarriage appeared to be inevitable. Her death sparked a huge uproar about abortion rights in the country.

Ireland's Indian-origin Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, who is in favour of the referendum, called it as "once in a generation decision".

"I do hope we will see more people taking part in this referendum, an exercise in democracy," Varadkar said.

Ireland's abortion referendum
Demonstrators take part in a 'Pro-Life' rally, ahead of a May 25 referendum on abortion law, in the centre of Dublin, Ireland, May 12, 2018.REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

Who was Savita Halappanavar?

Halappanavar, a 31-year-old India dentist from Belagavi, Karnataka, shifted to Ireland with her husband Praveen Halappanavar post marriage. She was looking forward to have her first child. Her husband has now moved to the US.

Halappanavar's father Andaneppa S Yalgi, a retired engineer, who is yet to recover from the loss of losing his daughter told Bangalore Mirror, "If the law is passed in favour of abortion, then we would want it to be named after Savita. The 8th amendment was responsible for the death of my daughter."

"There have been several protests in Ireland demanding a change to the 8th Amendment which will give pregnant women the choice to terminate pregnancy. People have held cut outs of my daughter for protests. In winter they have come out and held candlelight protests. A mother's life is important. Give her permission to abort, if it puts her life at risk. We are very positive about the outcome," he said.

He told The Guardian, "I think about her every day. She didn't get the medical treatment she needed because of the eighth amendment. They must change the law."