Health

Pregnant Savita Halappanavar Denied Abortion by Hospital During Miscarriage, Dies Days Later

| by Michael Allen

Pregnant mom-to-be Savita Halappanavar went to the Galway University Hospital in Galway, Ireland, when she first began to miscarry her unborn baby on October 21, but because of the country's strict abortion ban, doctors denied her repeated requests to terminate the pregnancy because they could still detect a fetal heartbeat.

The hospital required her to extend her miscarriage over three days until the fetus’ heartbeat stopped, reports the Daily Mail.

Her husband, Praveen Halappanavar told The Guardian: "Savita was really in agony. She was very upset, but she accepted she was losing the baby. When the consultant came on the ward rounds on Monday morning Savita asked if they could not save the baby could they induce to end the pregnancy. The consultant said: 'As long as there is a fetal heartbeat we can't do anything.'"

"Again on Tuesday morning, the ward rounds and the same discussion. The consultant said it was the law, that this is a Catholic country. Savita [an Indian Hindu] said: 'I am neither Irish nor Catholic,' but they said there was nothing they could do."

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After three days, the dead fetus was removed. Savita Halappanavar was taken to the hospital's intensive care unit where she died on October 28, after developing blood poisoning.

Praveen Halappanavar recalled: "They said they were shifting her to intensive care. Her heart and pulse were low, her temperature was high. She was sedated and critical but stable. She stayed stable on Friday but by 7 p.m. on Saturday they said her heart, kidneys and liver weren't functioning. She was critically ill. That night, we lost her."

The hospital said it could not discuss the details of an individual patient with the media, but expressed its sympathy to the family. Praveen Halappanavar is considering filing a lawsuit.

A 1992 court ruling in Ireland changed the country’s abortion ban to include an exception in cases where the woman’s life is in danger, but apparently hospitals don’t always know how far that exception can stretch and are reluctant to spare the mother's life in the heavily-Catholic country.