Abortion debate continues to rage in Ireland after Savita Halappanavar’s death
Family demands justice in wake of Savita's death
The family of Savita Halappanavar, who died in a Galway hospital last month after being refused a pregnancy termination for a baby she was miscarrying, has given the government until Thursday of this week to agree to an independent public inquiry or face a European court battle.
Their demand came as the Irish Cabinet on Tuesday considered the report of an expert review group on abortion.
Savita’s family’s move is effectively a rejection of an inquiry by the Health Service Executive (HSE) and a separate one by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA).
Savita’s husband Praveen said he had no faith in the HSE probe into the deaths at the Galway University College Hospital. He also rejected the HIQA probe which was launched last Friday.
He has said if there is not an independent public inquiry he will take a European Court of Human Rights case.
Savita’s father, Andanappa Yalagi, also made a direct appeal from India to the Irish government to hold an independent inquiry.
Savita, 31, from India, who worked as a dentist in Westport, Co. Mayo, died of septicemia on October 28, four days after asking for medical termination when she complained of bitter pain and was told she was miscarrying her fetus of 17 weeks.
Her husband Praveen, 34, an engineer at Boston Scientific in Galway, said the termination was refused because the fetal heartbeat was still present and the couple were told, “This is a Catholic country.”
When the fetal heartbeat stopped the dead fetus was removed and Savita was taken to the high dependency unit of University College Hospital, Galway, and then the intensive care unit, where she died. The Irish Catholic newspaper said this week that Catholic theology and the law did not stand in the way of doctors treating Savita.
But the Irish government is under growing pressure to legislate for abortion in limited circumstances after an expert review group came down in favor of clarifying the situation by way of new law and supporting regulations.
The review group was established in January and its report was presented to the government last week. The contents of the report by the review group, discussed at Cabinet on Tuesday and published later that day, were already leaked to media last weekend.
The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Ireland failed to properly implement the constitutional right to life of the mother set out by the Supreme Court in Dublin 20 years ago in the X case. The court decided that the life of the mother must be at risk, but it left the power with doctors, excluding the woman’s views.
Choice Ireland, which seeks to ensure a woman’s freedom to pursue all reproductive choices, said the government’s response to date left them fearful of further delays. Spokeswoman Stephanie Lord said. “The normal progression of legislation is very, very slow. The government should take the option of going with emergency legislation.
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