Woman dies after request for abortion is refused

Savita Halappanavar died of septicaemia after being told she couldn't have a termination even though her life was at risk

A young woman died in Ireland after her abortion request was refused.

Savita Halappanavar, a 31-year-old dentist, was 17 weeks pregnant when she began suffering from severe back pain.

She was sent to University Hospital Galway, where she was found to be miscarrying. According to her family, she requested a termination several times in the three days she spent in hospital before she died.

However, this was refused as there was a foetal heartbeat, and she died on October 28 from septicaemia.

Her husband Praveen told the Irish Times that his wife was refused an abortion by medical staff after they said they could not do this as Ireland was a Catholic country and the foetus was still alive.

There will be two investigations at University Hospital Galway – one will be carried out by the hospital itself, while the other will be carried out externally by the Health Service Executive.

Abortion is a highly contentious issue in Ireland and is illegal except where there is a real and substantial risk to the mother’s life, but not necessarily her health.

Speaking to the Irish Times Mr Halappanavar said: ‘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”.’

The Galway Roscommon University Hospitals Group has released a statement saying: ‘In general in relation to media enquiries about issues where there may be onward legal action, we must reserve our position on what action we may take if assertions about a patient’s care are published and we cannot speak for individual doctors or other medical professionals if a report were to name or identify any.’

Meanwhile, a vigil protest has been organised in Dublin, and there will be a demonstration outside the Irish Embassy in London at 6pm this evening.

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