Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Decision due on Savita death probe

Savita Halappanavar

Health chiefs will announce on Friday whether to launch an independent statutory inquiry into the death of an Indian dentist in Ireland after a miscarriage.

A formal request for a second investigation over Savita Halappanavar's hospital death was made as President Michael D Higgins defended his intervention in the row over the make-up of an investigation.

Her husband Praveen is battling the Irish Government to hold a sworn, public inquiry into her death on October 28, which he claims happened after she was denied an abortion as she miscarried.

The President said he spoke out to show solidarity with concerned citizens and express the great sadness felt in Ireland.

"I said that it was a great tragedy, a young woman, and I expressed my sympathies to her husband and her extended family," he said. "I was joining the thousands of Irish people who are on the streets saying the same thing and then, on the specific issue, where do we go from here. I said it's very important that the investigation be such as satisfies the genuine concern of the Irish people and that meets, in some way - in some small way - helps reducing the grief for Savita's husband and her family and then that meets the needs of the state's responsibilities."

Mr Halappanavar has refused to co-operate with the existing Health Service Executive (HSE) inquiry. A second investigation - a statutory inquiry run by the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) watchdog - was requested by the HSE. A decision is due on Friday.

As demands for an independent inquiry deepened, Mr Halappanavar's lawyers revealed some detail of his wife's medical notes from Galway University Hospital, October 21-28.

They claim there is no record in the files of the several requests for a termination. They said the notes include requests for tea, toast and an extra blanket but records for his wife's care on Monday October 22 is blank.

Mrs Halappanavar, 31, died on October 28, 17 weeks into her pregnancy. She miscarried and subsequently suffered septicaemia, and her husband claims that doctors refused to carry out an abortion because a foetal heartbeat was present. He says they were told Ireland "is a Catholic country".

Meanwhile, a phone number which was being used to make unsolicited calls with automated messages related to the wider abortion rights debate has been shut down after about 70 complaints to regulators.

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