Indian dies after being refused abortion in Ireland


Praveen took Savita's remains back to India for cremation on November 3. News of the circumstances that led to her death emerged Tuesday in Galway after the Indian community cancelled the city's Diwali festival. Savita had been one of the festival's main organisers.

Her case highlights the bizarre legal limbo in which pregnant women facing severe health problems can find themselves in predominantly Catholic Ireland.

Ireland's constitution officially bans abortion, but a 1992 Supreme Court ruling found the procedure should be legalised for situations when the woman's life is at risk from continued pregnancy. Five governments since have refused to pass a law resolving the confusion, forcing the vast bulk of Irish women wanting abortions, an estimated 4,000 per year, to travel next door to England. But that option is difficult, if not impossible, for women in failing health.

University Hospital Galway declined to say whether doctors believed Savita's blood poisoning could have been reversed had she received an abortion rather than wait for the foetus to die on its own. In a statement, it described its own investigation into the death, and a parallel probe by the national government's Health Service Executive, as "standard practice" whenever a pregnant woman dies in a hospital. The Galway coroner also planned a public inquest.

The couple had settled in 2008 in Galway, where Praveen works as an engineer at the medical devices manufacturer Boston Scientific. Savita had taken time off for her pregnancy. Her parents in India had just visited them in Galway and left the day before her hospitalisation.

Opposition politicians appealed Wednesday for Kenny's government to introduce legislation immediately to make the 1992 Supreme Court judgment part of statutory law. Barring any such Bill, the only legislation defining the illegality of abortion in Ireland dates to 1861, and it states that it is a crime punishable by life imprisonment to "procure a miscarriage".

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