Woman Dies After Doctors Refuse to Give Her an Abortion

By Carla St. Louis

On October 21st, Savita Halappanavar, 31 years old and 17 weeks pregnant, began suffering from back pains. She was admitted into Ireland’s University Hospital Galway and was found to be miscarrying.

Her husband, 34 years old Praveen Halappanavar, an engineer at Boston Scientific in Galway, says his wife asked several times over a three-day period that her pregnancy be aborted after enduring one day of severe pain.

The doctor, he says, said it should be over in a few hours but that turned into three days of torment for his wife.

Savita Halappanavar

Again, the couple asked for an abortion, but their request was denied.

“Savita was really in agony. She was very upset, but she accepted she was losing the baby. When the consultant came on the ward rounds on Monday morning Savita asked if they could not save the baby could they induce to end the pregnancy. The consultant said, ‘As long as there is a foetal heartbeat we can’t do anything.’

“Again on Tuesday morning, the ward rounds and the same discussion”, said Halappanavar. “The consultant said it was the law, that this is a Catholic country.” Savita [a Hindu] said: ‘I am neither Irish nor Catholic’ but they said there was nothing they could do.

In 1992, the Irish Supreme Court legalized abortion in cases where the mother’s life is threatened; however, 20 years later the Irish Republic has failed to put the law into effect. Even though Hlappanavar developed shakes, shivers, and was vomiting, the hospital said there was nothing to be done.

Two and a half days later, the fetal heartbeat stopped which prompted doctors to remove her dead fetus.

Halappanavar was taken to intensive care where she passed away on October 28th. Two days later, an autopsy revealed she succumbed to septicaemia and E.coli ESBL.

A hospital spokesman confirmed the Health Service Executive had begun an investigation while the hospital had also initiated an internal investigation.

He said the hospital extended its sympathy to the family and friends of Halappanavar but could not discuss the details of any individual case.

Halappanavar was cremated on Nov. 3.

On the heels of this tragedy, Belfast Marie Stopes International abortion clinic opened late last month, and more clinics are scheduled.

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