"International human rights groups" have contacted the husband of the late Savita Halappanavar and have pledged to help him in his European court battle.

Praveen Halappanavar’s solicitor, Gerard O’Donnell, revealed the situation to the Irish Examiner after the deadline the widower gave for an independent State inquiry to be set up passed yesterday without progress. 

Mr O’Donnell said that three days after he wrote to Health Minister James Reilly on the matter, the only response had been a note on Wednesday evening confirming the correspondence had been received. 

Mr O’Donnell said he and his client are now committing to taking a European Court of Human Rights case against the State — with the move receiving "international" support. 

"Given the huge amount of international attention this has received we do have offers of help from people in human rights groups [in relation to the case]. 

"There are a wealth of people, from Britain and elsewhere, who said they want to offer their services to Praveen. Some of these organisations are known internationally, although I don’t wish to name them yet," the solicitor said. 

Full article by Fiachra Ó Cionnaith here

 
 
The Irish Catholic Bishops have seen fit to clarify the church’s view on gynecology given Savita Halappanavar’s death from sepsis at 17 weeks in her pregnancy and the concern that evacuating her uterus was delayed because the fetus still had a heart beat. The full statement is here, but this is the excerpt I find most troubling:

- Whereas abortion is the direct and intentional destruction of an unborn baby and is gravely immoral in all circumstances, this is different from medical treatments which do not directly and intentionally seek to end the life of the unborn baby. Current law and medical guidelines in Ireland allow nurses and doctors in Irish hospitals to apply this vital distinction in practice while upholding the equal right to life of both a mother and her unborn baby.

I spent quite sometime trying to understand how one could possibly translate this statement into medical care. I’ve been a doctor for 22 years and an OB/GYN for 17 years and I admit that I am at a bit of a loss. My three interpretations are as follows.

  • Terminating a pregnancy is “gravely immoral in all circumstances.” All circumstances includes 17 weeks and ruptured membranes. Unless I misunderstand the meaning of “all,” then Irish Catholic Bishops also view ending a pregnancy at 17 weeks with ruptured membranes and sepsis, either by induction of labor or the surgical dilation and evaluation (D & E), to be “gravely immoral.” They must also view ending a pregnancy for a woman who previously had postpartum cardiomyopathy and a 50% risk of death in her pregnancy as “gravely immoral.” So if you have a medical condition that is rapidly deteriorating because of your pregnancy, too bad for you if you live in Ireland. Because the mother and unborn baby have equal rights to life, Irish law spares women the anguish of choosing their own life. Neither can be first, so both must die.

Full article by Dr Jen Gunter here
 
 
The father of the late Savita Halappanavar has made a public appeal to the Government to hold a public inquiry into his daughter’s death.

Andanappa Yalagi, speaking to a freelance video journalist at the family home in the Srinigar neighbourhood of Belgaum, Karnataka, in southwest India, said he was not happy with progress so far in finding out why his daughter died in Galway University Hospital on October 28th.

“We would like to appeal to the Irish Government to please consider funding a public inquiry. We are not happy with the progress made so far. We all don’t understand the HSE investigation. So once again I ask the Irish Government to consider funding a public inquiry.”

The parents of Ms Halappanavar (31) also said in an interview with the Times of India that they hoped her death might lead to legislative change that could save other people’s daughters in the future.

Full article by Kitty Holland here

 
 
FINE Gael is tearing itself apart over the threat of suicide being grounds for abortion – as a shadow is cast over the expert advice given to the Government on the issue.

A respected member of the expert group on abortion resigned last summer, but her departure was never disclosed by Health Minister James Reilly.

A leading family doctors' representative, Dr Ailis Ni Riain, was one of two GPs on the expert group, but she left the group in unexplained circumstances in May. Dr Ni Riain was to the forefront of research into crisis pregnancies and post-abortion counselling.

Her resignation only came to light last night, as tensions mount in Fine Gael over abortion, with the risk of suicide as a grounds for a termination becoming the new battleground.

Party ministers and TDs told the Irish Independent they have a concern about the threat of suicide being used as a pretext for obtaining an abortion where there is not actually any psychological risk to the mother.

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Dear Taoiseach,

I write to you as a middle-aged Irishwoman who marched the streets of Dublin back in 1983 to protest the eighth amendment to the Irish constitution, and marched again and again throughout the eighties and nineties as that amendment's sorry consequences unfolded.

I write as a freethinker, who can say with Voltaire, that even if I disapprove of what you say, I will defend your right to say it. I write as a mother of two, now grown, who has penned articles about this question from many perspectives and written a novel about Irish freedom, which centres on an 18-year-old who terminated, as so many have, an Irish pregnancy in Engand.

And I write as one of the offshore Irish, who spoke outside the Irish embassy in London last week to honour the memory of Savita Halappanavar and urge your government to respond appropriately to her death.

 
 
KITTY HOLLAND and MARESE McDONAGH

Crucial information including repeated requests for a termination were not recorded in Savita Halappanavar’s medical records, her husband’s solicitor claimed yesterday.

Gerard O’Donnell, representing Praveen Halappanavar, said the notes covering her care on Monday, October 22nd, when it is alleged she made her first request for a termination, were “particularly scant”.

“It’s almost as if a whole day is missing from the notes,” he said last night. He said while there were records kept of her having cups of tea or of her husband asking for extra blankets for her, there was none on the requested termination.

Ms Halappanavar died at the hospital on October 28th, having presented with severe backpain a week earlier. She had been 17-weeks pregnant and had been found to be miscarrying. Mr Halappanavar says she asked repeatedly, between Monday 21st and Wednesday 23rd, that the pregnancy be terminated. This was refused, he says, as a foetal heartbeat was present and he claims they were told: “This is a Catholic country.”

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Praveen Halappanavar, husband of the late Savita Halappanavar, met Minister for Health James Reilly for a 25-minutes today.

They met in Galway in the company of his solicitor, Gerard O’Donnell.

Speaking afterwards Mr O’Donnell described their talks as “positive”. The meeting was sought by the Department of Health and Mr Halappanavar agreed to meet Mr Reilly during a previously arranged visit to the city today.

Mr Reilly expressed condolences to Mr Halappanavar on the death of his wife at Galway University Hospital last month, on his behalf and on behalf of the Government.

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STATEMENT - 22nd November 2012

For Release: Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s remarks in the Dáil were insensitive and an abuse of parliament.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s remarks in the Dáil today(21/11) were a gross and insensitive abuse of parliament. The inappropriate nature of directly addressing Savita’s grieving husband from the Dáil chamber cannot be emphasised enough.

Praveen Halappanavar’s refusal to cooperate with the HSE inquiry is completely understandable. Like Galway Pro-Choice, he believes that only a fully independent public inquiry has the ability to objectively investigate this matter. Mr Kenny’s attempt to persuade Mr Halappanavar to cooperate with the HSE was a shameful abuse of his position.

How Mr Kenny believes that it is acceptable to comment in the Dáil on the actions of a bereaved husband is inconceivable. Praveen feels that his wife’s death was avoidable. Acting through his solicitor is the most reasonable and sensible course of action.

Mr Kenny’s actions seem even more incredible in light of the fact that Savita’s family have received no personal apology or expression of condolences from any Government or HSE official.

The fact that the HSE are going ahead with the investigation without Mr Halappanavar’s consent is both impractical and yet another example of Government arrogance. Without Praveen’s co-operation the inquiry team will not have adequate access to the evidence they require. Furthermore, the credibility of any findings will be completely undermined by the dismissal of Praveen’s serious objections.

The Government defeat of Sinn Féin’s motion to immediately legislate for the X Case is shameful and disappointing. We have had twenty years to establish legal clarity on this issue, yet Labour and Fine Gael continue to hide behind a fifth expert group on the matter.

Galway Pro-Choice welcomes the reintroduction by United Left Alliance TD’s of the Medical Treatment (Termination Of Pregnancy In Case Of Risk To Life Of Pregnant Woman) Bill to legislate for the X Case. This is a real opportunity to improve the safety of pregnant women in Ireland. There is no justifiable reason for Labour and Fine Gael TD’s to vote against it.

Galway Pro-Choice is hosting a public meeting this evening on the immediate need to legislate for the X Case. It will take place at 7.30 pm, at the Harbour Hotel, New Docks Road, Galway City.

There will also be a national demonstration in Galway City on December 1st, leaving from the Spanish Arch at 2.00 pm.

For more information please contact: Galway Pro-Choice on 087 706 0715, Rachel Donnelly on 086 062 1503 or Sarah McCarthy on 085 7477 907

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Mr Halappanavar objected to the inclusion on the panel of three employees of the hospital and within 24 hours they had been dropped amid concerns of a conflict of interest.

The replacements are: Professor James Walker, Professor and honorary consultant of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in St James Hospital in Leeds, Dr Brian Marsh, consultant in Intensive Care Medicine, Mater Misericordiae University Hospital and immediate past-Dean, Joint Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine of Ireland and Professor Mary Horgan, Consultant Physician in Cork University Hospital and Professor in the School of Medicine, University College Cork.

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Ireland's President Michael D Higgins says he hopes women will be safer in the wake of the death of an Indian dentist after a miscarriage.

He expressed his wish that Irish women will get the medical services they are entitled to internationally after Savita Halappanavar, 31, died 17 weeks into her pregnancy.

Her husband Praveen is battling the Irish Government and health chiefs to hold a sworn, public inquiry into her death, which he claims happened after she was denied an abortion on medical grounds.

Mr Higgins, on a three day trip to Liverpool and Manchester, rejected suggestions that Ireland's reputation around the world has been damaged by the controversy.

"I think that what is very important and what is very moving to me as president is to see the enormous response among the Irish public to the sad death of the wonderful Savita and how tragic it all is," Mr Higgins said.

"My wish, frankly, is that there be some form of investigation which meets the needs of the concerned public and meets the needs of the family and meets the need of the state."

At least 10,000 people marched through Dublin on Saturday demanding reform of abortion laws. Further protests and candlelit vigils have taken place in New York, India and elsewhere, including another demonstration at Ireland's Dail parliament tonight.

Mr Higgins urged respect for the Irish constitution, which gives equal right to life to the mother and unborn child, and for a 2010 European court ruling which found a woman living in Ireland had her human rights violated by being forced to travel overseas for a termination for fear she would suffer a cancer relapse during pregnancy.

"The Irish constitution and later European court cases have to be respected and we have to move on," he said.

Ms Halappanavar died in Galway University Hospital on October 28 after losing her baby. She contracted septicaemia.

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