Savita is one of the many women around the world whose rights to abortion have been curtailed by religious dogma. While it is fortunate that Catholic views on pregnancy, abortion and women are being debated because of Savita’s death, there is a need for this argument to extend to other religions as well.

In the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and the Middle East rigid and conservative interpretation of Christianity, Buddhism and Islam have stood in the way of women and their rights to family planning and abortion. In Nepal, a Hindu country, abortion was criminalized until 10 years ago, when extremely high maternal mortality rates forced the country to overlook religious dogma. India being a secular state has had the good fortune of having a liberal abortion law since 1972 . But in more recent times, traditional practices like sex-selection continue to threaten the access to these services. All these religions have also played a major role in the legislation of other restrictions imposed on women – including the right to inherit, right to adoption etc.

To ensure that women around the world have access to medical procedures that help improve and preserve the quality of their lives, it is important for countries to divorce their laws from religious beliefs entirely.

ASAP is featuring a week of blog posts to reflect on the tragic incident that lead to the death of Savita Halappanavar. For regular updates from ASAP please subscribe to our blog.