Sir — The death of the Indian citizen, Savita Halappanavar, who was denied an abortion in Galway, Ireland, should warn the world about the potentially dangerous ideologues who govern the problematic country (“Lady denied abortion dies”, Nov 15). Medical staff failed to act to save Halappanavar. This is disgraceful and shows the nation to be a theocracy that ignores civil liberties. The debate on abortion in the country has been dominated by the conservatives, who refuse to acknowledge dissent. The Irish political parties are divided on the matter and by no means is any movement on the issue guaranteed.
Halappanavar’s life could have been saved. Although abortion is made an offence in the country under the Offences Against the Person Act, it appears that the provision against abortion in the constitution (Article 40.3.3) only protects a foetus as far as practicable: “The state acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and... guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right”. This technically implies that when keeping the foetus alive is not practicable, a termination is allowed. Despite this, Halappanavar was denied abortion. The Indian government and the people should demand the safety of Indian women in Ireland.
Maurice Fitzgerald,Shanbally, County Cork, Republic of Ireland
Sir — The death of Savita Halappanavar, after being denied a life-saving abortion in Ireland, has outraged many Indians. However, India, where Mother Teresa is honoured and feted, should think about its choice of heroes before criticizing the Irish authorities. Mother Teresa always maintained that the life of a foetus is more precious than that of the mother. She also campaigned against abortion. Calcutta has built statues of Teresa and named roads after her. When will India develop the taste to choose the right kind of heroes?
Aroup Chatterjee, London
Sir — Savita Halappanavar’s death in the Republic of Ireland was a shocking revelation about its barbaric laws that prohibit abortion even when the mother’s life is at stake. The country should take an objective view of the episode and make necessary amendments to its laws, especially since this is an era that has seen tremendous progress in medical technology. Laws need to be pragmatic in their approach. Ideological and religious beliefs should be accommodative of exceptional circumstances. Rigidity will only lead to the loss of innocent lives.
Ashok Jayaram, Bangalore
Sir — Humanity should be given precedence over religion. The death of Savita Halappanavar, after doctors refused to perform an abortion on her citing Catholic doctrine as the law, is appalling. The doctors allegedly refused to intervene even when they knew that Halappanavar’s life was at risk. It is high time that the Catholic church and the government of that country amend their draconian stand against abortion.
Bidyut Kumar Chatterjee, Faridabad
Sir — The 25th death anniversary of the legendary singer, Shyamal Mitra, went by unnoticed on November 15. Mitra had a unique voice, which enabled him to be one of the most popular Bengali singers from the 1950s to the early 1970s. This was a time when Hemanta Mukhopadhyay and Manna Dey were at the zenith of their fame. Mitra has sung songs composed by nearly all the musical greats of the time. His rendition of songs such as Jodi kichhu amaarey sudhaao and Dur noy beshi dur oi is almost magical.
His work as a music composer was also commendable. The songs in the movie, Deya Neya, carried his signature tunes and were quite memorable. One of his compositions, Ei sundor prithibi chherey, is arguably one of the most notable compositions in modern Bengali music.
Besides being a singer of popular songs in Bengali, Mitra also forayed into playback singing. He delivered remarkable performances in such unforgettable films as Sagarika and Ananda Ashram.
Subhayu Saha, Khagra, Murshidabad