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

Praveen Halapanavar is to take a case to the European Court of Human Rights - saying his right to a full public inquiry is being ignored.

The family of Savita Halappanavar’s had earlier warned the Governement they would make such an application if they didn't agree to a full public inquiry into the circumstances of her death by today.

Separate inquiries by the HSE and the Health Information and Quality Authority are to proceed.

Gerard O'Donnell is the solicitor for Mr Halappanavar:


THE long-awaited report of the expert group on the judgment in A, B and C v Ireland was published yesterday, and much of what was contained therein will not have come as a shock to those who have been following the debate on the issue.

The creation of an expert group in the first place was a mechanism designed by the then government to put off the inevitable act of legislating for the X case judgment which was handed down by the Supreme Court in 1992 that said pregnant women had a constitutional right to an abortion where it was established that as a matter of probability she had a real and substantial risk to her life. 

Full article by Stephaine Lord 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
Sinead Redmond is 8 months pregnant. Anyone who expected this condition had caused her to mellow her views on women's fertility would have those prejudices brushed aside once she took the mic.

Speaking for all women who find themselves in her circumstances she shelved her inevitable fear of birthing to express sympathy to Savita's. Sinead reserved her venom for the spineless politicians who refused to facilitate an environment which could have saved Savita's and other women's lives. She is down on a medical profession that chose not to provide adequate support to a mother in severe risk of death, and is ultimately angry and critical at her fellow citizens who seek to justify indignity Savita endured by appealing to some form of divine reason.

Sinead's child will be from to become the prevailing standard.

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.

Full article here

THREE doctors from University Hospital Galway are part of the investigation team assembled to inquire into the death.

The chairman of the inquiry has defended their positions, saying they needed to inform the team about their standards of practice in treating patients at the hospital.

Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, an eminent obstetrician of 40 years experience who practises at St George's hospital, University of London, was unveiled as chairman. [...]

Mr Arulkumaran said the main reason to have three Galway hospital doctors involved is not for them to give specific directions, but to inform the team about their standards of practice in treating patients.

He said this would include whether "they have standard guidelines in the hospital, and if they have deviations why do they do so".

For example the type of antibiotics given to patients can vary from hospital to hospital.

Full article here

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.

Full article here
CATHOLIC bishops have insisted that "Catholic teaching" had no role to play in the death of pregnant Indian dentist Savita Halappanavar, inset.

It is the first public comment by Catholic bishops on the issue that has sparked a debate on abortion around the country.

Ms Halappanavar's husband said that she had been told by doctors that "this is a Catholic country" when requesting an abortion to try to save her life.

The statement from the bishops came as the members of an independent committee set up to inquire into Ms Halappanavar's death were announced.

The standing committee of the Irish Bishops' Conference – which is made up of seven bishops from around the country – discussed the case at their meeting in Maynooth.

In a statement, they said that they wanted to re-affirm their position on the right to intervene where a mother's life was at risk. "Where a seriously ill pregnant woman needs medical treatment which may put the life of her baby at risk, such treatments are ethically permissible provided every effort has been made to save the life of both the mother and her baby," they said.

And the bishops insisted that the Catholic Church had never taught that the life of a child in the womb should be preferred to that of a mother.

Full article here

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.

Full article here