Emma Watson has published an open letter praising Dr. Savita Halappanavar, an Irish woman whose death after being denied an abortion helped to spur Ireland to repeal its abortion ban, People is reporting.
In the letter, published in Net-a-Porter, the Harry Potter actress writes lovingly about the woman, saying that Dr. Halappanavar never wanted her name to be attached to a political cause; rather, she just wanted to live.
“You didn’t want to become the face of a movement; you wanted a procedure that would have saved your life.”
Back in 2012, Savita Halappanavar was a 31-year-old dentist living in Dublin, Ireland. As reported by an inquest into her death, published by the Health Service Executive of Ireland, Dr. Halappanavar was 17 weeks pregnant with her first child when she showed up at University Hospital Galway complaining of back pain. It was later deemed that she was about to miscarry, and she requested an abortion.
However, at the time, Ireland had some of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe — dating back to 1861 — which stated that anyone who performed an abortion could be punished with life in prison. A 1992 update to the law allowed abortion in cases where the woman’s life was in danger, but the law was vague and didn’t specify a process by which that determination could be made.
As it would later turn out, Dr. Halappanavar was septic at the time, and she later died of a related blood infection. An abortion would likely have saved her life, an inquest later concluded.
In her death, Dr. Halappanavar became a martyr of sorts for the pro-choice movement. What’s more, her death is credited with bringing about the repeal of Ireland’s 8th Amendment, which was effectively a blanket ban on abortion.
In her letter, Watson promises to work tirelessly to stop other preventable deaths such as Dr. Halappanavar’s.
“Time and again, when our local and global communities collectively mourn a tragic death due to social injustice, we pay tribute, mobilize and proclaim: rest in power. A promise to the departed and a rallying call to society, we chant: never again.”
She also goes on to point out that women outside of Ireland remain without access to safe, legal abortion.
“From Argentina to Poland, restrictive abortion laws punish and endanger girls, women and pregnant people.”
Though still working as an actress, Emma Watson has devoted much of her working life — and considerable amounts of money — to feminist causes and towards improving the lives of girls and women.