Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 31 August 2014

Savita friend backs husband's claim

Praveen Halappanavar and his solicitor Gerard O'Donnell leave the inquest into her death

A friend of Savita Halappanavar has backed up claims that the young dentist was told abortion was not an option because of Catholic teaching.

Mrudula Vasealli told an inquest into the 31-year-old's death that a senior midwife remarked to the suffering woman that termination could not be used as a treatment for the miscarriage in an Irish hospital.

"She said, the midwife, 'We do not do that here, dear. It's a Catholic thing'," she said.

The remark is the second allegation facing a member of the medical team in the obstetrics unit at University Hospital Galway but it differs from husband Praveen Halappanavar's claim that consultant Katherine Astbury made a similar statement.

The second day at the coroner's court in the Galway courthouse heard how grief hit the widower in the minutes after his wife's death.

Ms Vasealli and friends were at the hospital when Mr Halappanavar was told that his wife had suffered multi-organ failure and had died from a heart attack.

"Somebody said Praveen collapsed," she said.

"He was brought to the lobby. He was vomiting there. He couldn't walk. After about half an hour we all went home."

Ms Vasealli told the coroner's court that Mrs Halappanavar had first pleaded for her unborn girl's heartbeat to be stopped when medics revealed that the foetus could not be saved.

Mr Halappanavar told the inquest that his Hindu wife asked for a termination three times before she finally delivered her dead baby daughter four days later. He also claimed that a doctor had remarked to them that an abortion was not allowed because Ireland is "a Catholic country".

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