Back in October I linked to the Statement from Galways Prochoice as the news about Savita broke and a statement explaining how they had been approached initially by Savita#s friends now they have a follow up.
For Immediate Release:
Savita inquest proves urgent need for legislative change.
The media reports from Savita’s inquest this week have shocked and saddened many across the country. Hearing the different accounts of how and why Savita died brings home more than ever the urgent need for legal clarity and compassion in cases where a pregnant woman’s health is at risk.
The strength and bravery of Praveen Halapannavar throughout the investigative process have been remarkable. Despite aggressive cross-examination, Praveen’s account of Savita’s final days has been largely vindicated. Savita was denied a termination when she requested one, and this was at least partly because of the legal ban on abortion in Ireland. System failures have been acknowledged, and a midwife in the inquest was brave to admit the truth: that Savita was indeed told that ‘Ireland is a Catholic country’ in an attempt to explain this decision to withhold treatment.
It has been clearly revealed this week that Ireland’s ban on abortion was a leading factor in Savita not receiving the care that she required. Dr. Astbury, the consultant managing Savita’s case, confirmed that termination of pregnancy would have been the intended treatment for Savita’s condition. However, she was forced to deal with a ‘balance of probabilities’ – delaying treatment against her patient’s wishes as Savita got progressively more unwell. It was only after consulting with other senior colleagues after Savita’s health rapidly declined did she feel in a position to provide a termination. However by then it was too late and Savita was moved to ICU with severe sepsis.
This case highlights that a ‘real and substantial risk to the life’ of a woman can develop within a matter of hours. In cases such as these, how can doctors efficiently interpret this law and what constitutes a substantial risk? 40%? 60%? How long must doctors really be expected to wait and consult before providing life saving terminations? The law here in Ireland simply does not protect doctors, or the women living here.
The inquest this week has also revealed some of the system failures at UCHG in Savita’s care. Medical staff failed to follow up the results of a blood test taken on her admission to the hospital, and her vital signs were not monitored closely enough. It was also revealed that there was a delay in sending the blood cultures to the lab for testing and one test for lactate was refused as it was in the wrong bottle. This refusal was not communicated to the ward. Nonetheless, the ban on abortion in Ireland was a crucial cause for delay in what has been revealed this week would have actually been the intended treatment for her condition.
Legislative change is urgently needed to prevent more unnecessary deaths.
Rachel Donnelly of Galway Pro Choice said:
“Dr. Katherine Astbury, Savita’s obstetrician, made clear at the inquest this week that she felt constrained by Irish law from acting to protect Savita’s health. This situation can no longer continue. We must have X Case legislation by the summer, and then we must have a referendum to remove Article 40.3.3 from the Irish Constitution as soon as possible.”
Orlaith Reidy of Galway Pro Choice stated:
“Savita’s case proves beyond any doubt that the lives and the health of women in Ireland are being endangered by the constitutional ban on abortion. This is not about scapegoating individual medical personnel. No doctor should feel that for legal reasons they have to wait until their patient is at death’s door before administering treatment. We need a referendum now to remove the 8th Amendment from our constitution and ensure that no woman ever again has to go through what Savita did.”
For more information please contact Galway Pro Choice:
Tel.: 087 706 0715