A heartbreaking re telling of what happened to his wife.
The consultant said, ‘As long as there is a foetal heartbeat we can’t do anything’.
KITTY HOLLAND and PAUL CULLEN, Health Correspondent
Two investigations are under way into the death of a woman who was 17 weeks pregnant, at University Hospital Galway last month.
Savita Halappanavar (31), a dentist, presented with back pain at the hospital on October 21st, was found to be miscarrying, and died of septicaemia a week later.
Her husband, Praveen Halappanavar (34), an engineer at Boston Scientific in Galway, says she asked several times over a three-day period that the pregnancy be terminated. He says that, having been told she was miscarrying, and after one day in severe pain, Ms Halappanavar asked for a medical termination.
This was refused, he says, because the foetal heartbeat was still present and they were told, “this is a Catholic country”.
She spent a further 2½ days “in agony” until the foetal heartbeat stopped.
The dead foetus was removed and Savita was taken to the high dependency unit and then the intensive care unit, where she died of septicaemia on the 28th.
An autopsy carried out by Dr Grace Callagy two days later found she died of septicaemia “documented ante-mortem” and E.coli ESBL.
A hospital spokesman confirmed the Health Service Executive had begun an investigation while the hospital had also instigated an internal investigation. He said the hospital extended its sympathy to the family and friends of Ms Halappanavar but could not discuss the details of any individual case.
Speaking from Belgaum in the Karnataka region of southwest India, Mr Halappanavar said an internal examination was performed when she first presented.
“The doctor told us the cervix was fully dilated, amniotic fluid was leaking and unfortunately the baby wouldn’t survive.” The doctor, he says, said it should be over in a few hours. There followed three days, he says, of the foetal heartbeat being checked several times a day.
“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 foetal 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 [a Hindu] said: ‘I am neither Irish nor Catholic’ but they said there was nothing they could do.
“That evening she developed shakes and shivering and she was vomiting. She went to use the toilet and she collapsed. There were big alarms and a doctor took bloods and started her on antibiotics.
“The next morning I said she was so sick and asked again that they just end it, but they said they couldn’t.”
At lunchtime the foetal heart had stopped and Ms Halappanavar was brought to theatre to have the womb contents removed. “When she came out she was talking okay but she was very sick. That’s the last time I spoke to her.”
At 11 pm he got a call from the hospital. “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 7pm on Saturday they said her heart, kidneys and liver weren’t functioning. She was critically ill. That night, we lost her.”
Mr Halappanavar took his wife’s body home on Thursday, November 1st, where she was cremated and laid to rest on November 3rd.
The hospital spokesman said that in general sudden hospital deaths were reported to the coroner. In the case of maternal deaths, a risk review of the case was carried out.
External experts were involved in this review and the family consulted on the terms of reference. They were also interviewed by the review team and given a copy of the report.
This is a personal nightmare.
There are are issues with high blood pressure in my family.
This could have been my sister, my cousin or in years to come my daughter.
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
06/11/2012 15:44, Minister Varadkar Constituency wrote:
6th November 2012
Dear Ms [Sharrow]
Thank you for taking the time to contact me. You can be sure that I will take your views into account.
As committed to in the Programme for Government, an Expert Group, drawing on appropriate medical and legal expertise, was established in January to study the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) on the ABC v. Ireland case. In that judgement, the European Court held that the Irish State had failed to legislate to implement existing rights to lawful abortion when a mother’s life is at risk.
Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution states that: “The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right. “
The interpretation of Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution arose in the “X case” in 1992. A majority of the members of the Supreme Court of Ireland held that, if it were established, as a matter of probability, that there was a real and substantial risk to the life, as distinct from the health, of the mother and that this real and substantial risk could only be averted by the termination of her pregnancy, such a termination was lawful.
The judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the A, B and C v Ireland case confirmed that Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution is in conformity with the European Convention on Human Rights. However, the Court ruled that “no criteria or procedures have been… laid down in Irish law… by which that risk is to be measured or determined, leading to uncertainty…” and held that further legal clarity was required.
In order to address the judgment, and to fulfil a commitment included in the Programme for Government, the Government established an Expert Group, drawing on appropriate medical and legal expertise, with a view to making recommendations on how this matter should be properly addressed.
The Expert Group, Chaired by Mr Justice Sean Ryan, will report in September with recommendations on a series of options on how to implement the judgment taking into account the constitutional, legal, medical, and ethical considerations involved in the formulation of public policy in this area and the over-riding need for expeditious action in light of the ECtHR judgement.
The Government believes that this is the appropriate forum in which to examine this complex and sensitive matter.
When the Group finalises its report later this year the Government will then decide how to proceed.
Leo Varadkar T.D.
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport
Anyone spot that?
The Expert Group, Chaired by Mr Justice Sean Ryan, will report in September
Ok this is either an old stock reply, as it is now November or else the expert group is not reporting back until September 2013 which is far from expeditious. I have written back asking for clarity on this.
Still no reply from Joan Burton or Patrick Nulty.
IF you have still not Emailed your own TDs you can do, in one go here:
On 02/11/2012 17:20, Joe Higgins wrote:
Many thanks for getting in touch in relation to this important issue. Myself and my colleagues in the United Left Alliance have been to the fore in pushing for legislation for the X-case. We will continue to pressure the Government to introduce this long overdue legislation. We will continue to raise this issue in the Dail if there is continued delaying tactics in relation to the report of the expert group.
Dail Assistant to Joe Higgins TD
I got a wonderfully prompt reply, still waiting on replies from Joan burton and Patrick Nulty. I am going to email them again.
In 1968 contraceptives were still illegal in Ireland, this didn’t change until the mid 80s. Women were often told after having anything between 8 to 12 children to not have any more by drs but would be told by priests they had to do their duty and it was not possible to press charges if your husband raped you.
The contraceptive pill could how ever be prescribed for other reasons.
But every pill taken was deemed a mortal sin and if a woman was known to be on the pill she could be refused communion and even barred from the church.
This film was recorded in Ballyfermot and two women speak about their large families and the moral and legal dilemma they faced in order to take the contraceptive pill for the sake of their health, their lives and their families.
My Nana was one of those women rearing 10 children in a small 3 bedroom house.
When one of the neighbors in confession admitted to do doing her duties to her husband the priest ran her out of the church and told her not to darken the door until she had preformed them. My grandmother with the rest of the women’s solidarity in the parish boycotted the priest until he was moved.
Ireland has come a long way in shrugging off the shackles imposed on it but the roman catholic church which has caused such suffering, but we still have a long way to go, as most of our schools and hospitals are still controlled by it.
If you are committed to feminist parenting, there is no more foundational tenet than ensuring your daughter knows that there is no wrong way to be a girl. The corollary, of course, is also true; for your sons, there is no wrong way to be a boy. Are there wrong ways to be human? Yes, like being a jerk or intentionally hurting people, but attaching your love or respect for your children to gendered assumptions, or to gendered hopes for their future, means that they can fail simply by being themselves.”
The first ever clinic to offer abortions on the island of Ireland will open in one weeks’ time.
Marie Stopes International is setting up a centre on Great Victoria Street in Belfast.
The not-for-profit organisation operates in 42 countries around the world.
It is one of the leading providers of sexual and reproductive healthcare services in Britian.
The new Belfast clinic will be open to women over the age of 16 including those who travel from the Republic.
Women who attend there will have a consultation and a scan before 2 doctors assess whether they are eligible for an abortion up to 9 weeks into their pregnancy.
The cost of the non-surgical procedure is expected to be around stg£350 (€435).
The director of the new clinic in the city is Dawn Purvis.
She spoke with Breakfast here on Newstalk.
There is a Maire Stopes clinic in Dublin, the will not currently be able to offer the service of medical abortions but they should have information about the services in the Belfast clinic.
Marie Stopes Reproductive Choices
10/11 Berkeley Street
Phone: (01) 830 0630
Fax: (01) 830 0629
The first sexual and reproductive health centre to offer abortion services on the island of Ireland will open in Belfast next Thursday.
Marie Stopes Northern Ireland, based in purpose-built city centre premises on Great Victoria Street, will offer contraceptive options, HIV testing, STI testing and treatment, ultrasound scanning, and medical abortion up to nine weeks gestation.
Anyone over the age of 16 can access the centre, including people from the Republic, and services are available by appointment only. Marie Stopes International, which is a not-for-profit organisation, is the UK’s leading provider of sexual and reproductive healthcare services. It has been established for over 30 years, and works in 42 countries around the world.
It will be medical abortions only which means for some women living up there they won’t have to travel to the mainland UK. It’s a start, hopefully we will have similar services here too.