Indian dies after being refused abortion in Ireland

FP

SHAWN POGATCHNIK

A 31-year-old Indian woman dentist, Savita Halappanavar, died in Ireland from blood poisoning after doctors allegedly refused to terminate her 17-week-long pregnancy despite a miscarriage, telling her that "this is a Catholic country". Prime Minister Enda Kenny said he was awaiting findings from three investigations into the death.

Savita's husband Praveen said doctors at University Hospital Galway determined she was miscarrying within hours of her hospitalisation for severe pain and blood poisoning on Sunday, October 21. He said that over the next three days, doctors refused their requests for an abortion to combat her surging pain and fading health.

"Savita was really in agony. She was very upset, but she accepted she was losing the baby," he told The Irish Times in a telephone interview from Belgaum, Karnataka. "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 consultant said it was the law, that this is a Catholic country. Savita said: 'I am neither Irish nor Catholic', but they said there was nothing they could do," Praveen, an engineer at Boston Scientific in Galway, said.

He said his wife vomited repeatedly and collapsed in a restroom that night, but doctors wouldn't terminate the foetus because its heart was still beating.

The foetus died the following day and its remains were surgically removed. Within hours, Praveen said, his wife was placed under sedation in intensive care with blood poisoning and he was never able to speak with her again. By Saturday her heart, kidneys and liver had stopped working and she was pronounced dead early October 28.

An autopsy carried out two days later reportedly found she died of septicaemia "documented ante-mortem" and E.coli ESBL.

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