• Praveen Halappanavar, 34, pens heart-wrenching diary of days leading to death of wife Savita, 31
  • Savita died in hospital in Galway, Ireland, after surgeons didn't remove her miscarrying baby
  • They told her it wasn't possible in Catholic country

    Two months ago Savita and Praveen Halappanavar were looking forward to the birth of their first baby.

    Praveen, 34, an engineer at a firm that makes medical equipment, and dentist Savita, 31, lived in Galway city, Ireland, moving there from India after marrying. 

    When Savita was 17 weeks pregnant she was admitted to University hospital in Galway with back pain - and told she was miscarrying.


    Her repeated requests for a termination were refused on the grounds that Ireland 'is a Catholic country'.

    A week after arriving in hospital, she died holding Praveen's hand. Her death sparked an international storm, with calls for Ireland to immediately change its abortion laws. 

    Here Praveen chronicles his wife's heartbreaking story, from her first scan to her tragic death . . .

    FRIDAY, OCTOBER 19: We're thrilled to see the baby on the screen Savita and I have been waiting weeks for our first scan. When we finally see it, we couldn't be more happy. 

    When she became pregnant over the summer, we were over the moon. We are told the baby is 'absolutely fine' and given a due date of March 30.

    Early on, we decided not to find out if it was a boy or a girl, we really want it to be a surprise. Secretly though, Savita is wishing for a girl.

    As we drive home, she and I excitedly plan the next few months. She shares the news with her parents who are visiting us from India for a few weeks. They are delighted: this baby is going to be their first grandchild.

    SATURDAY, OCTOBER 20: We spend a lovely day celebrating with friends. That evening Savita's mum cooks us an Indian meal and we chat happily. 

    After watching television, we go to bed at 10pm. Savita is tired after a long but very pleasant day.

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    Firstly, I would like to first express my deep sadness at the death of Savita Halappanavar and express my condolences to her husband, her family and her friends. I say that both as a parent and a grandparent.

    I am very happy to be able to speak in the House on this issue. I think it is only right that every member is able to express their views on the report and to have their constituents hear the voice of the people they elected to represent them.

    I have been contacted by hundreds of my constituents expressing their views on the matter, and I want to thank them for doing so. I have never had as much contact from my constituents on a single issue, which I believe speaks volumes about how seriously the people view the matter of the X Case.

    As someone who remembers the 1983 referendum I welcome the calmer and rational debate that is taking place now. Those of us who disagreed with the wording in 1983 were subjected to a lot of aggravation at the time, and some of it happened in the work place. Thankfully today we can debate this question more maturely and with greater tolerance.

    As Justice Ryan says in the Report, the European Court of Human Rights concluded that there is an existing constitutional right which was identified by the Supreme Court in the X Case, and it is logical and rational that this right should be available and enforceable in law. Article 47 of the European Convention on Human Rights requires this Oireachtas to implement its judgement. As this State ratified that Convention, we cannot make excuses for ignoring this report.

    Read full article here

     
     
    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is being pressured to address the thorny topic of Irish abortion law when she visits Dublin Thursday on one of her last official foreign trips.

    A group of high-profile artists and academics, mostly Irish citizens based in the United States, has issued an open letter suggesting that Clinton publicly raise the issue of Ireland’s unclear yet restrictive abortion laws when she delivers a speech on human rights in the Irish capital.

    Among the signatories to the letter are actor Gabriel Byrne, Riverdancecomposer Bill Whelan and a number of prominent novelists, including Colum McCann, Colm Toibin, Peter Quinn and Belinda McKeon.

    The letter asks Clinton to “consider addressing this very real and present danger to the lives and health of pregnant women.”

    Read full article by Niall Stanage here
     
     
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    5 December 2012


    Dear Madam Secretary, 

                On the occasion of your visit to Ireland this week, as part of which you will deliver an address at Dublin City University on the theme of human rights, we would like to take this opportunity to express our deep concern at what Human Rights Watch last month described as an “urgent gap in women’s human rights” in Ireland. The failure of seven successive Irish governments to legislate for the constitutional right of women in Ireland to have access to safe and legal abortion when their lives are at risk has resulted in ongoing and unacceptable danger for pregnant women in the country. This danger was tragically highlighted last month by the death in an Irish hospital of a young Indian woman, Savita Halappanavar. As Irish citizens, as members of the Irish diaspora in the United States, and as citizens of the US and elsewhere who wish to express solidarity with women in Ireland, we respectfully ask that, as you meet with the Irish government, and as you speak at DCU, you bear in mind this extremely serious gap in Irish law which constitutes a clear violation of basic human rights. 

                The situation to which we refer is a consequence of the unwillingness of Irish governments to introduce legislation giving force to the Irish Supreme Court’s 1992 ruling in the X case, which stated that a woman is entitled to an abortion when a continued pregnancy would pose a real and substantial threat to her life. A 2010 ruling by the European Court of Human Rights in the A, B and C case further found Ireland to be in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights by failing to implement procedures which would allow a woman to establish her right to an abortion within Ireland. The Court also noted that the criminal provisions enshrined in the current law, which dates from 1861, constituted a “chilling factor” for women and medical professionals. 

                Savita Halappanavar died in University Hospital Galway on October 28th, having been admitted whilst suffering a miscarriage one week previously. Her husband, Praveen Halappanavar, has stated that her request for a termination was refused by hospital staff, with one doctor invoking the reasoning that Ireland was “a Catholic country”. After an agonizing three-day miscarriage, Savita was found to have contracted septicemia and E-Coli, and died three days later. 

                Savita’s death has provoked a mass outpouring of grief and anger from those who believe that a termination may have saved her life and, more crucially, that the lives of pregnant women in Ireland must be protected by clear legislation for the twenty-year-old X case ruling. Organizations including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International as well as the UN’s Committee Against Torture have stated that there is an urgent need for domestic legislation in line with international human rights principles, including the very clear ruling from the European Court of Human Rights. The government recently informed the Council of Europe that it plans to take a decision on how to implement the judgment of the Court by December 20th, after the Irish Parliament has debated a report by an Expert Group established to examine this issue. We hope that both the debate and the government’s decision will be based on Ireland’s human rights obligations including its obligations on women’s rights, and that it will be followed by swift implementation. 

                Otherwise, Ireland will continue to be in clear violation of its international obligations on human rights, despite having committed, during its recent successful campaign for membership of the UN Human Rights Council, to the full promotion of such rights in its domestic policy. Deeming this to be a matter of urgent concern both on an Irish and international scale, we would ask, Madam Secretary, that you might consider addressing this very real and present danger to the lives and health of pregnant women during your visit to Ireland this week. The Irish government must take the right decision to protect the rights of women in Ireland, and it should do so without further delay. 

                Yours sincerely, 



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    All those who are interested in ensuring that what happened to Savita Halappanavar never happens again to another woman in Ireland, in ensuring that women's rights to life, health and self-determination are respected on this island, are invited to a national open meeting to launch a national pro-choice campaign on December 8th, to be held in Dublin city centre. 

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    TRANSPORT Minister Leo Varadkar says he still has concerns about suicide being included as grounds for abortion and there will need to be a "wall of safeguards".

    His comments come in the wake of a poll showing eight out of 10 people support legislation for the X-Case ruling on abortion.

    Fine Gael has also suffered a dramatic dive in support on the back of the botched handling of the Savita Halappanavar tragedy.

    Mr Varadkar also lashed out at pro-choice "extremists" as he said the majority of people do not want abortion on demand.

    The minister repeated his call for the Government to consider holding a referendum on abortion, despite Taoiseach Enda Kenny ruling it out.

    Full article by Fionnan Sheahan here

     
     
    Video with thanks to Paula Geraghty of Trade Union TV.
     
     
    The Health Information and Quality Authority may have to establish a further investigation into how pregnant women who are getting increasingly ill are cared for in Irish hospitals, following its inquiry into the death of Savita Halappanavar.

    The authority, which this afternoon published the terms of reference for its investigation into the death of the 31 year-old pregnant woman at Galway University Hospital last month, said if it emerged that there may be “serious risks” to any other woman in a similar situation in the future, it may recommend “further investigation or ..a new [one] “.

    Full article by Kitty Holland here

     
     
    When I argued a case challenging Ireland's ban on abortion before the European Court of Human Rights in 2009, I told the story of my client, "Ms. C," who had been battling cancer when she became pregnant. Ms. C's doctors in Ireland, where abortion is illegal and lifesaving abortion is largely unavailable, refused to provide her with even basic information about the risk that continuation of pregnancy posed to her life, and so she had no option but to travel to England to obtain an abortion.

    The human rights court found this to be a clear violation of my client's rights under the European Convention on Human Rights and in 2010 demanded that Ireland reform its abortion laws. The case was considered a major victory for women.

    But the victory exists only on paper, as is clear from the tragic case of Savita Halappanavar. Last month Halappanavar, 31, died from a pregnancy-related blood infection after doctors in Ireland refused to perform an abortion. According to her husband, as Halappanavar's health deteriorated, she had begged doctors for medically necessary treatment. Even after her doctors acknowledged that there was no chance her fetus would survive, they refused to terminate the pregnancy as long as they could detect even the faintest fetal heartbeat. Halappanavar slipped into a coma from which she never recovered.

    Full article by Julie F. Kay here
     
     
    "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