Inquest into Irish abortion death

Thursday 11 April 2013 @ 9.17 a.m. | Legal Research

An inquest into the death of an Indian dentist in an Irish hospital has heard that the woman was denied an abortion because "this is a Catholic country," despite the fact that she was beginning to miscarry.

Savita Halappanavar's widow told the court that his wife was in great pain, but was told by the hospital consultant that a termination was not possible because the foetus was still alive. A consultant obstetrician who treated Mrs Halappanavar told the court that the law "does not permit termination even if there is no prospect of viability of foetus." She denied Mr. Halappanavar's claim that staff had made any reference to Ireland's Catholicism. 

The inquiry has heard that staff did not show sufficient concern for the risks to Mrs Halappanavar. She died the following Sunday after being admitted to hospital for suspected septicaemia. 

The tragedy caused an international outcry, with the Indian government issuing a diplomatic protest to Dublin. The case has also put pressure on the Fine Gael-Labour coalition to reform abortion law, and to permit abortions in cases where a woman's life is at risk.

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