And herein ends the beginning of the inquest into the death of Indian dentist Savita Halappanavar in Ireland! Savita was denied abortion as Ireland is a Catholic country and against abortion. Sadly, it was this failure to abort which caused her to die. The Halappanavars had repeatedly requested the hospital to carry out an abortion after doctors at the hospital found out that her 17-week-old foetus would die and that Savita experienced what was called a protracted miscarriage.
The hospital had apologized to the family over the mishap. The inquest sought to determine the reason how Halappanavar died when her miscarrying foetus was not aborted despite her complaints of severe pain. It was reported that she died from the result of blood poisoning and organ failure; four days after the baby’s heartbeat had stopped.
It was midwife of the hospital, Ann Maria Burke, who had told Halappanavar that an abortion was not possible because Ireland was a Catholic country. In court, she testified that although she had claimed this, she was trying to explain to the couple the laws of the country even though Halappanavar said she was a Hindu. Husband, Praveen Halappanavar, had supposedly pleaded for an abortion but his requests were dismissed twice for reasons that the foetus was still alive.
Despite losing his wife, Praveen open-heartedly thanked the midwife for her honesty and apology when she testified in court. He reportedly made a long statement at the beginning of the investigation. Evidently distraught, Praveen said that it was difficult for him to sit through the inquest but he was glad that the truth was beginning to emerge. He just wanted to know why his wife died and how she was being treated when she was unwell. The series of events that happened following her complaint of pain and admission to hospital were discussed and investigated in the inquest.
This tragedy has been instrumental in the move by the Irish government to amend Ireland’s abortion laws to make termination of pregnancy legal on exceptional cases like when the mother’s health or life is at stake. The final draft of health service executive report noted that there had been system failures in the care of Savita with an overemphasis on the foetus and no emphasis on her own deteriorating health. Through the leaked documents of the investigation, it was reported that the doctors had even failed to diagnose the infection that eventually led to the dead of the 31-year-old Indian dentist. The report added that for almost three days, the doctors had failed to look into the infection and that an abortion should have been considered even without being asked for it.