Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Parents condemn Irish abortion laws

Savita Halappanavar died at University Hospital Galway

The parents of an Indian woman who suffered a miscarriage and died after being refused an abortion in an Irish hospital have hit out at Ireland's abortion laws. Savita Halappanavar was 17 weeks pregnant when she miscarried and died last month.

The Irish government confirmed that Mrs Halappanavar suffered from blood poisoning and died after being denied an abortion, reigniting the debate over legalising abortion in the predominantly Catholic country.

"In an attempt to save a four-month-old foetus they killed my 30-year-old daughter. How is that fair you tell me?" Mrs A Mahadevi, Mrs Halappanavar's mother, told Indian TV. Her daughter was actually 31 when she died.

"How many more cases will there be? The rules should be changed as per the requirement of Hindus. We are Hindus, not Christians," she said.

Savita Halappanavar's father, Mr Andanappa Yalagi, said the combination of medical negligence and Irish abortion laws led to his daughter's death.

The spokesman for India's Ministry of External Affairs, Syed Akbaruddin, said in a Twitter post that the Indian Embassy in Dublin was "following the matter".

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

Mrs Halappanavar's husband, Praveen, said doctors at University Hospital Galway in western Ireland determined that his wife was miscarrying within hours of her being taken to hospital in severe pain on October 21. He said over the next three days, doctors refused their requests for an abortion to combat her pain and fading health.

It was only after the foetus died that its remains were surgically removed. Within hours, Savita was placed under sedation in intensive care with blood poisoning, her husband said. By October 27, her heart, kidneys and liver had stopped working, and she was pronounced dead the next day. Three separate investigations are looking into the cause of Mrs Halappanavar's death.

Ireland's constitution officially bans abortion, but a 1992 Supreme Court ruling said the procedure should be legalised for situations when the woman's life is at risk from continuing the pregnancy. Five governments since have refused to pass a law resolving the confusion, leaving Irish hospitals reluctant to terminate pregnancies except in the most obviously life-threatening circumstances.

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