Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Woman died from blood poisoning after Irish medics refused to perform an abortion because she was in 'a Catholic country'

A woman who was suffering a miscarriage died after developing blood poisoning when doctors at an Irish hospital refused to perform an abortion. Savita Halappanavar, 31, was found to be miscarrying when she was admitted to Galway University Hospital suffering with agonising back pain, but doctors repeatedly denied her requests for a medical termination because the foetus' heartbeat was present. Her husband Praveen Halappanavar, 34, claims he and his wife - who had been 17 weeks pregnant - were told by staff at the hospital: 'This is a Catholic country
'.Savita Halappanavar, 31, died at Galway University Hospital, where doctors refused to perform a medical termination
Savita Halappanavar, 31, died at Galway University Hospital, where doctors refused to perform a medical termination

Abortion is illegal in the Republic of Ireland. Health chiefs in the country have launched an investigation after the dentist - who is understood to have been from India but was living in Ireland - developed septicaemia and died at the hospital on October 28. The woman's death has seen pressure heaped on Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny to legislate for abortion in cases where a mother's life is in danger, and a demonstration is due to take place in front of the Dail parliament in Ireland this evening.

Outrage: Irish TD Clare Daly wants to see new laws introduced to allow an abortion in specific, life-threatening circumstances
Outrage: Irish TD Clare Daly wants to see new laws introduced to allow an abortion in specific, life-threatening circumstances

Left-wing TDs Clare Daly and Joan Collins described the woman's death as an outrage. They criticised the Government for failing to adopt their X Case Bill earlier this year, which would have introduced new laws to allow an abortion in specific life-threatening circumstances. Ms Daly said: 'A woman has died because Galway University Hospital refused to perform an abortion needed to prevent serious risk to her life. This is a situation we were told would never arise. An unviable foetus - the woman was having a miscarriage - was given priority over the woman's life, who unfortunately and predictably developed septicaemia and died.'

 The 31-year-old, who was 17 weeks pregnant, was found to be miscarrying when she was admitted to Galway University Hospital in Ireland

The 31-year-old, who was 17 weeks pregnant, was found to be miscarrying when she was admitted to Galway University Hospital in Ireland

Taoiseach Enda Kenny would give no indication as to whether he would introduce laws allowing women to have a termination in certain life-threatening circumstances. Mr Kenny also dismissed calls for the Government to hold its own external inquiry into Mrs Halappanavar's death. The Health Service Executive and the Galway-Roscommon University Hospitals Group have both launched investigations. 'It would be very appropriate that we don't rule anything out here, but there are two reports and investigations going on at the moment,' said Mr Kenny. He said the Government would wait until Health Minister James Reilly received the reports from the hospital and HSE inquiries before deciding the best course of action. 'I don't think we should say anything about this until we are in possession of all the facts,' he added. The Taoiseach also extended his deepest sympathy to Mrs Halappanavar's family, including her husband Praveen. 'A child has been lost, a mother has died and a husband is bereaved,' said Mr Kenny. 'That is a tragedy.'

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams asked Mr Kenny when he intended to legislate for abortion, while Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin called for an external inquiry to be carried out by Government. Both opposition TDs were joined by Independent TD Shane Ross in expressing their sadness at Mrs Halappanavar's death. Ms Daly and Ms Collins have insisted their proposals would have ensured there was no equivocation over whether an abortion should have been performed. It is expected the hospital's investigation will be complete within three months. Mrs Halappanavar's family will be interviewed as part of the review. A spokesman for the hospital said: 'Firstly, the Galway Roscommon University Hospitals Group wishes to extend its sympathy to the husband, family and friends of Ms Halappanavar.'

The Galway hospital said medics have carried out all standard practices in notifying the death to the coroner, informing the Health Service Executive and completing a maternal death notification. 'It is standard practice to review unexpected deaths in line with the HSE's national incident management policy,' it said. 'The family of the deceased is consulted on the terms of reference, interviewed by the review team and given a copy of the final report.' The spokesman added that the hospital was waiting to consult Mrs Halappanavar's family on the terms of reference before beginning the review.


While abortion is legal almost everywhere in Europe, severe restrictions still apply in some countries - particularly those with large Roman Catholic populations.
Republic of Ireland: Abortion is banned in the Republic of Ireland, where laws governing the procedure acknowledge the 'right to life of the unborn'.
In theory, abortion is permitted in the country if there is a risk to the life of the woman - although instances are extremely rare. A provision exists in the Irish constitution for the country's Parliament to legislate on the controversial issue, but no political party has yet opted to do so. More than 4,000 Irish women travelled to the UK to undergo terminations in 2011.
Northern Ireland: Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK where the 1967 Abortion Act - which legalised the procedure by registered practitioners and regulated its free provision on the NHS - does not apply. Abortions are carried out in some rare cases in hospitals where a woman's life is directly at risk. Marie Stopes opened the first private abortion clinic on the island of Ireland in Belfast this year.
Malta: Abortion is illegal on any grounds
Andorra: Abortion is illegal on any grounds
Poland: Severe restrictions exist around abortion procedures

Source: Daily Mail UK 

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