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Protestors gathered for a candlelit vigil in front of Dublin’s parliament in a show of support for the family of a seriously-ill pregnant woman who died after being denied an abortion.

31-year-old Savita Halappanavar pleaded for a termination but doctors refused because they could detect a foetal heartbeat.

Abortion is illegal in Ireland except where there is a substantial risk to the woman’s life. Savita’s death has propelled the issue to the top of the agenda.

“Obviously the matter is being investigated by the HSC (Health and Social Care) and I don’t think I should say any more than that, other than to send my deepest sympathies to the family” said Health Minister James Reilly.

But Sinead Ahern of campaign group Choice Ireland sees it differently: “Every day that the government fails to act to legislate for the ‘x case’ is another day that women’s rights are being violated and women are potentially being placed at risk.”

In 2010 a judgement from the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg ruled that the state had failed to implement existing rights to lawful abortion where the mother’s life was at risk.

A group of experts have yet to make recommendations in the wake of the judgement. Campaigners say a review of the current law is long overdue.

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