“You didn’t want to become the face of a movement; you wanted a procedure that would have saved your life”

Actor and activist Emma Watson has penned a heart-felt tribute to Savita Halappanavar ahead of the sixth anniversary of her passing.

The 31-year-old dentist died at University Hospital Galway from sepsis while she was suffering a miscarriage in 2012.

An investigation later found that the Eighth Amendment and Irish abortion laws played a role in her death - after her request for an abortion was denied.

Ms Watson, who has advocated on a range of issues from violence against women to global sustainability, was asked by fashion magazine Porter to pen a letter in honour of Dr Halappanavar.

Opening her letter she notes: “You didn’t want to become the face of a movement; you wanted a procedure that would have saved your life.”

“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,” she wrote.

“A promise to the departed and a rallying call to society, we chant: never again.

“But it is rare that justice truly prevails for those whose deaths come to symbolize structural inequality.

“Rarer still is a historic feminist victory that emboldens the fight for reproductive justice everywhere.”

You can read the letter in full here:

Dear Dr Savita Halappanavar,

You didn’t want to become the face of a movement; you wanted a procedure that would have saved your life. When news of your death broke in 2012, the urgent call to action from Irish activists reverberated around the world – repeal the Eighth Amendment of the Irish Constitution. 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. But it is rare that justice truly prevails for those whose deaths come to symbolize structural inequality. Rarer still is a historic feminist victory that emboldens the fight for reproductive justice everywhere.

Your family and friends were gracious and galvanizing in their sharing of your memory. They told us you were passionate and vivacious, a natural-born leader. I heard that at Diwali in 2010 you won dancer of the night, going on to choreograph routines with children in your community. I watch the video of you dancing in Galway’s 2011 St Patrick’s Day parade and am moved to tears by your thousand-watt smile and palpable enthusiasm. Sharing their mourning and hope with the world, your family publicly supported the Together for Yes campaign. Celebrating repeal, your father expressed his “gratitude to the people of Ireland”. In reciprocity, I heard Ireland’s ‘repealers’ say that they owe your family a great debt.

A note on your memorial in Dublin read, “Because you slept, many of us woke.” That the eighth amendment enabled valuing the life of an unborn fetus over a living woman was a wake-up call to a nation. For you, and those forced to travel to the UK to access safe, legal abortion, justice was hard-won. From Argentina to Poland, restrictive abortion laws punish and endanger girls, women and pregnant people. Still, Northern Ireland’s abortion law predates the lightbulb. In your memory, and towards our liberation, we continue the fight for reproductive justice.

With all my love and solidarity,

Emma Watson

File photo of protestors holding up pictures of Savita Halappanavar outside Leinster House in Dublin, 21-11-2012. Image: Julien Behal/PA Archive/PA Images