Group to be made up of 'entirely independent' representatives

The Taoiseach says the 3 doctors from University Hospital Galway who were to sit on an inquiry into the death of Savita Halappanavar will not now do so. 

It comes after the husband of the 31-year-old declared he would not co-operate with the inquiry because of the inclusion of the doctors on the team. 

This afternoon Enda Kenny told the Dáil that Health Minister James Reilly had instructed the inquiry be made up of people with no association with the hospital. 

These were Prof. John J. Morrison, Dr. Catherine Fleming and Dr. Brian Harte.

All hold various posts at the hospital where Mrs. Halappanavar died last month.

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SAVITA Halappanavar's husband Praveen will try to block a HSE inquiry into her death by refusing to release her medical records.

Praveen Halappanavar, whose wife died after suffering a miscarriage and being refused an abortion, has called for an independent public inquiry into her death and says he has no faith in the HSE process.

Mr Halappanavar will not consent to have Savita's records examined by the investigation team, his lawyer said.

His solicitor Gerard O'Donnell announced the widower has no faith in the state's Health Service Executive (HSE), which appointed a team to review the case.

"I just don't know how the HSE will conduct an inquiry without his consent," said Mr O'Donnell.

"They will have to look at her records and we haven't given any consent to Savita's records being looked at."

However, it is understood the HSE inquiry will be able to review the records without Mr Halappanavar's permission.

Mr Halappanavar criticised the HSE probe, launched yesterday, because the team includes three employees of Galway University Hospital where his 31-year-old wife died on October 28.

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Medics involved in the care of a pregnant Indian woman who died after suffering a miscarriage will be interviewed over the next three days, health chiefs have revealed.

A seven-strong team, headed by professor of obstetrics and gynaecology Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, will examine case notes and medical guidelines to establish whether she received the best possible care.
Savita Halappanavar, 31, died on October 28 after contracting septicaemia. Her husband has claimed she was denied an abortion as she miscarried 17 weeks into her pregnancy.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) said no overall timeframe has been set for the completion of a report, which will be sent to HSE national director of quality and patient safety Philip Crowley.

"We will obviously interview all the members of the local team who were involved in the care and clearly analyse every step of Mrs Halappanavar's care to ensure that we uncover the root causes of her untimely death," Dr Crowley said.

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TANAISTE Eamon Gilmore has ordered Labour ministers to push for action on the controversial abortion issue despite his absence from Cabinet today.

And his party colleague, Education Minister Ruairi Quinn, has warned there will be "consequences" for TDs who vote against the Government on the contentious issue.

The death of Savita Halappanavar has propelled the issue to the top of the political agenda and the Cabinet will today decide on the coalition response to a Sinn Fein motion calling for immediate legislation.

But Mr Gilmore will miss the key meeting as he is attending a crucial gathering of EU foreign affairs ministers in Brussels about agreeing the €1 trillion EU budget for 2014-2020.

A Labour source said its ministers were "very clear" about Mr Gilmore's desire to get legal clarity on abortions when a pregnant mother's life was at risk.

"We want a decision as quickly as possible," the source said.

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By now news of Savita Halappanavar's senseless death has traveled around the world, drawing attention to Ireland's near-total ban on abortion and the horrific consequences of such policies. This is not a stand-alone case. Every 90 seconds a woman dies from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth, totaling more than 350,000 deaths worldwide each year. Nearly all of these deaths occur in developing countries, where access to modern medical care is scarce.

What makes Savita's story so shocking is that she died in a modern hospital in a developed European country. We health advocates spend a lot of time and energy fighting for the kind of access Savita (almost) had. Hers was a planned pregnancy. She herself was a medical professional, a dentist, who recognized the warning signs of pregnancy complications. When she felt severe pains, she and her husband didn't have to travel far to reach a clean, modern hospital where her health problems were quickly diagnosed. And when she learned that she was miscarrying and that her life was in danger, she asked her doctor about her options and requested that her pregnancy be ended before it killed her.

Lack of access to medical care did not kill Savita -- politics did.

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A slightly strained week, which was spent trying to explain to Americans here in San Francisco how it is that healthy young women have to die in Irish hospitals.

Ever since Savita Halappanavar’s lovely face appeared on page three of Wednesday’s New York Times, it has been kind of uncomfortable to be an Irish person in certain circles here. But sure that’s pregnant women for you, always a source of embarrassment. Always making fools of us in front of the whole world.

Perhaps America is tired of Ireland’s excuses. The sad bewilderment among liberals here, when they heard the news of Savita Halappanavar’s death in a Galway hospital in October, is worse than any aggression. The thing is, Americans just can’t understand why surgical treatment for a miscarriage can be withheld from a woman on the grounds that the foetal heart is still beating, when medical staff have already agreed that the pregnancy has no chance of survival, as is claimed to have happened in this case. This is proving rather difficult to explain.

It is surprising how much Americans know about Irish abortion law, or the lack of it. “The mother’s life has priority, right?” they ask. Since Wednesday there has been no clear answer to that question. Is it, “We would like to think so”? Is it, “Well, it depends on where you are in Ireland, and also where in Ireland the pregnant woman is at the time”? Or is it “Er, we’d prefer not to think about that, if you don’t mind. Now bung us a couple of call centres, and leave us in peace”?

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Inquiry terms The husband of the late Savita Halappanavar has been sent a copy of the draft terms of reference for the internal inquiry to be conducted by University Hospital Galway into her death.

Praveen Halappanavar is believed to have arrived back in Ireland and to be staying with friends.

Mr Halappanavar has still not heard personally from the Health Service Executive, Department of Health or the Department of the Taoiseach about the independent investigation into the death of his wife, who died at University Hospital Galway last month.

A friend said he had been checking the post at the home the couple shared at Roscam in Galway and that the draft terms of reference had arrived on Friday.

Mr Halappanavar has also had contact from the coroner in Galway, who assured him an inquest would take place as soon as all the statements and medical reports had been gathered.

By last night Mr Halappanavar had not yet read the draft terms.

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This video footage was recorded on the 17th of March 2012 as the Galway's small Indian Community took part in the St Patrick's Day Celebrations, and later as Ireland mourned the death of Savita Halappanavar; an outstanding ambassador for her home country and someone who will be sorely missed.