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Abortion referendum: Supporting Yes: Savita probe professor

Savita Halappanavar

The professor who headed the inquiry into the death of Savita Halappanavar has urged a Yes vote.

Prof Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran said Ireland was a just and compassionate society, but that an amendment in the constitution has resulted in that compassion not being extended to women who need to end a pregnancy that endangers her health or her life.

"People in Ireland have the opportunity to right a wrong, to better protect the health of pregnant women and to ensure that doctors can provide the best possible care to women in Ireland," he said.

Prof Arulkumaran headed the Irish government-backed inquiry into the death of Ms Halappanavar, a 31-year old woman who he said was admitted to University Hospital Galway with inevitable miscarriage when she was 17 weeks pregnant. She died at the hospital in October 2012. An abortion had not been carried out because of concerns over the foetal heartbeat.

Following the inquiry, the Republic's Health Service Executive said staff failed to properly assess or monitor her condition.

Prof Arulkumaran said the Eighth Amendment played a major role in Ms Halappanavar's death because the healthcare team were concerned about the foetal heartbeat. "They were worried that if they do a termination they might be accused of performing an illegal act" he said.

Belfast Telegraph