Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 23 October 2014

Furore over pregnant woman's death

Savita Halappanavar died after suffering a miscarriage and septicaemia at a hospital in Galway last month (PA/Irish Times)

Ireland's ambassador to India is attempting to ease concerns in the country over the death of a woman who was refused an abortion as she miscarried.

Feilim McLaughlin is briefing government and opposition figures in New Delhi as two investigations got under way into Savita Halappanavar's death on October 28 in Galway University Hospital.

Officials in diplomatic circles in Dublin said meetings were planned with politicians of all creeds in an effort to indicate the exact position on abortion in Ireland "in light of strong headlines".

The Times of India reported the death of Mrs Halappanavar as: "Ireland Murders Pregnant Indian Dentist."

Mrs Halappanavar, 31, was 17 weeks pregnant when she died after suffering a miscarriage and septicaemia. Her husband Praveen has alleged that doctors refused several requests for a medical termination because the foetus's heartbeat was present.

He also alleged the couple were told: "This is a Catholic country."

In Dublin, Indian ambassador Debashish Chakravarti was brought in to meet officials in the Department of Foreign Affairs. "There have been contacts with Indian authorities," said a foreign affairs spokesman.

Junior minister Brian Hayes said he accepted that Ireland has suffered reputational damage as a result of Mrs Halappanavar's death.

Two inquiries into the death are under way - one by the Galway-Roscommon University Hospitals Group, due to report n three months, and a second Health Service Executive (HSE) investigation involving an independent expert in obstetrics and gynaecology from Northern Ireland.

A coroner's report will also be handed over to government.

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