Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Consultant 'refused abortion plea'

Savita Halappanavar (31) died at University College Hospital Galway last October eight days after being admitted

A consultant has been accused of refusing an Indian woman's demands for an abortion in Ireland as she miscarried on the grounds that it is "a Catholic country".

Widower Praveen Halappanavar told an inquest his Hindu wife Savita asked for a termination three times before she finally delivered her dead baby daughter on October 24, 2012. The 29-year-old died four days later at University Hospital Galway when her organs failed after she suffered septicaemia.

Mr Halappanavar accused consultant obstetrician Katherine Astbury of dismissing three separate requests for a termination because the foetus was alive.

"The consultant, Dr Astbury, came in," he told Galway coroner's court about the third request.

"Savita asked her 'can you terminate the baby?'

"Dr Astbury said 'unfortunately I cannot. This is a Catholic country, we are bound by the law. We can't terminate because the foetus is still alive'."

Mr Halappanavar said his wife, who was 17 weeks pregnant, cried and told the doctor she was Hindu and not an Irish citizen.

"Dr Astbury said 'sorry' and she walked away," Mr Halappanavar added.

The widower claimed a midwife also told his wife and her friend she could not have a termination because of the "Catholic thing" after calling the consultant.

Barristers for the hospital and the medic told Galway coroner, Dr Ciaran MacLoughlin, that the consultant denies the allegations and disputes she ever made reference to the words "Catholic country".

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