Galway Pro-choice statement re the death of Savita Praveen

For Release: Woman Dies in UCHG after Being Denied a Life-Saving Abortion

On Sunday the 28th of October, Savita Praveen died at UCHG after being denied a termination which would most likely have saved her life. She was 31 years old, married for four years and hoping to start a family.

If legislation is not introduced immediately, more women will die. Under the X Case ruling, women in Ireland are legally entitled to an abortion when it is necessary to save their life. However, legislation has never been passed to reflect this. It is the failure of successive governments to do so that led to Savita’s death.

Savita was first admitted to the hospital on October 21st complaining of severe back pain. Her doctor initially told her that she would be fine, but she refused to go home. It became clear that her waters had broken, and she was having a miscarriage (spontaneous abortion). She was told that the foetus had no chance of survival, and it would all be over within a few hours.

However, her condition did not take its expected course, and the foetus remained inside her body. Although it was evident that it could not survive, a foetal heartbeat was detected. For this reason her repeated requests to remove the foetus were denied. By Tuesday it was clear that her condition was deteriorating. She had developed a fever, and collapsed when attempting to walk. The cervix had now been fully open for nearly 72 hours, creating a danger of infection comparable to an untreated open head wound. She developed septicaemia.

Despite this, the foetus was not removed until Wednesday afternoon, after the foetal heartbeat had stopped. Immediately after the procedure she was taken to the high dependency unit. Her condition never improved. She died at 1.09am on Sunday the 28th of October.

Had the foetus been removed when it became clear that it could not survive, her cervix would have been closed and her chance of infection dramatically reduced. Leaving a woman’s cervix open constitutes a clear risk to her life. What is unclear is how doctors are expected to act in this situation.

Rachel Donnelly, Galway Pro-Choice spokesperson stated:
“This was an obstetric emergency which should have been dealt with in a routine manner. Yet Irish doctors are restrained from making obvious medical decisions by a fear of potentially severe consequences. As the European Court of Human Rights ruled, as long as the 1861 Act remains in place, alongside a complete political unwillingness to touch the issue, pregnant women will continue to be unsafe in this country.”

Sarah McCarthy, Galway Pro-Choice member said:
“Galway Pro-Choice believes that Ireland must legislate for freely available abortion for all women. Deaths like Savita’s are the most severe consequence of the criminalisation of abortion, yet it has countless adverse effects. We must reflect long and hard on the implications of Savita’s tragic and untimely passing, and we must act to ensure that such a tragedy never happens again.”

For more information please contact Galway Pro-Choice on 087 706 0715 or Sarah McCarthy on 085 7477 907

22 thoughts on “Galway Pro-choice statement re the death of Savita Praveen”

  1. Sadly, this sounds more like the Doctors were at fault than the legislation. It’s a very difficult job, and the full context of why an abortion was denied needs to come to light. Answers need to be sought to learn from such tragic mistakes. Life is so precious.

    1. They can face criminal charges under the Offences against the Person Act 1861 which is still on the law books here, loose their medical license and be blacklisted for medical insurance leading to them facing prison and loss career and livelihood.

  2. Very tragic case.

    But I wonder if this is more about the state of healthcre in Ireland than the abortion debate.

    Sounds like she was going to lose the baby anyway and there was negligence in her proper care. But I don’t have all the facts nor the expertise to be sure.

    I would like to see the full brunt of the law brought against the Dr if negligence is proved.

  3. From the Guardian

    “Rachel Donnelly, a spokeswoman for pro-choice campaigners in Galway said: “This was an obstetric emergency which should have been dealt with in a routine manner. Yet Irish doctors are restrained from making obvious medical decisions by a fear of potentially severe consequences.”

    Ms Donnelly surely understates the case, what more severe consequences are there than the death of both mother and child? A terrible tragedy that could have been averted. And with good fortune might have led to successful pregnancies in later days.Instead all that is left is devastating grief for the family and memories of unbearable torment.

  4. How could the medical staff in the hospital allow a woman to die because there was a heartbeat in a foetus she was carrying? A 17 week foetus could not survive anyway without its mother. This is appalling in 2012, I am again ashamed to be Irish.

  5. The doctors who refused to help a dying woman on religious fundamentalist grounds should be prosecuted for negligence by the state and struck off the register of practitioners as ethically unfit to practice by the Irish medical association. As for the politicians who have refused to legislate on the European Court recommendation post the X case they must be harried in public. The needless death of this young woman makes me squirm about being Irish.
    James Grealy

  6. I do not see how this tragedy can be attributed to the doctor following a medical policy, unless it was a policy on torture. There are at least three instances when a pregnancy is terminated— lack of fetal heartbeat because the fetus is not viable, or cervix is beginning to open which leaves the mother exposed to seriouos infections, or the mother’s blood will no longer clot which will cause the mother to bleed out. I know because I was a habitual misscarrier. Thank goodness I was in Boston MA, USA, and not at a Catholic hospital!

  7. Perhaps Ireland will take a good responsible look at their numbers of women who have suffered harm or delay during their pregnancies, birth process to both the mother’s and the Child or Children. Tragically, it’s very apparent stronger,responsible laws must be directed at this exact situation. Doctors must advance their training and equipment in order to prevent suffering and tragic results. No mother or child should ever be placed in a harmful condition while modern medical methods are possible to save or prevent a situation of harm or death.

  8. It seems to me that the pro-choice lobby has made up its mind about the cause of Ms Halapannavar’s death before any inquiry even starts. It is very cynical of it to make an instrument out of the deaths of two people – a woman and her child. We must await the outcome of the investigation and then make a balanced decision as a society, based on the facts, not on the ‘wish list’ of a totally partisan group.

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