Tag Archives: Savita

Chairman says health of mother and not just life needs protection

Chairman says health of mother and not just life needs protection .

The legal situation should be addressed “urgently” to ensure that not only the life but the health of the mother can be protected in pregnancy, the chairman of the review team said.

Prof Sabaratnam Arulkumaran was asked whether, to ensure another woman did not die in circumstances similar to those in which Savita Halappanavar had died, the law should permit termination of pregnancy where there was a threat to the health and not just to the life of the mother.

He replied: “Yes.”

More women could die in Irish hospitals in a manner similar to Savita Halappanavar unless legal clarity is provided for doctors on when they can intervene to terminate a pregnancy, the HSE report into her death has warned.Savita Halappanavar report: Tragic. Devastating.
Savita Halappanavar (left of photo) with children at Galway’s St Patrick’s day parade.The girl with the diamond smile
Dr Katherine Astbury advised Savita Halappanavar and her husband that a termination might have to be considered after a diagnosis of sepsis was confirmed. Photograph: Eric LukeTermination was denied at first because clinicians believed their ‘hands were tied’
Sabaratnam Arulkatumaran (left), Chairperson, and Dr Philip Crowler, National Director for Quality and Patient Safety, at the publication of the HSE clinical review report into the death of Savita Halappanavar on Thursday. Photograph: Eric LukeSerious gaps remain in what we know about operations in the hospital
“Failing to devise and follow a plan of care for this patient” is a fairly damning indictment of the healthcare professionals who looked after Ms Halappanavar. Photograph: Eric LukeMedical view: Focus on basics of care likely to help save lives

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“There are certain conditions a pregnant mother might have which can suddenly escalate – for example in this particular situation from an infection that is very localised but which spreads to the whole body and is sepsis.

“With severe sepsis the mortality rate is about 40 per cent, and if she goes into septic shock the mortality rate can be as much as 60 per cent. This can be in a very short period of time which means that [if] intervening is at a later stage it is difficult to bring the patient back to normality and to control.

Medical community
“So what we are saying is the medical community have to discuss with the legal profession if you really want to say the chances of making sure someone survives; this needs discussion.

“We don’t want another death happening because there is some ambiguity about how they interpret the law.”

He also said there were situations where a mother’s health only was threatened but which could escalate rapidly into a situation where her health would be permanently damaged.

“If you have infection, by the time it comes to sepsis and severe sepsis the fallopian tubes might be injured, she can become sub-fertile, she might have [later] an ectopic pregnancy. Life-long she might have pelvic inflammatory disease. I mean, how much are you prepared to take before considering termination of pregnancy?

“At what point is this going to give permanent injury to the woman, or what point might it escalate to death.”

He said too much responsibility was on individual doctors to interpret when it was legal to intervene, leading some to wait until the foetal heart stopped to be sure they were acting within the law.

“Even until the last minute they are waiting for the foetal heart to disappear before the termination would be considered. Some might have done it much earlier … so it seems to be a little bit individual, even within Ireland. So we must have some definitive meanings as to when you think this should be done.”

His patient
If Savita had been his patient in the UK she would have been offered a termination on Sunday, October 21st, the day she went into hospital. “If it was my case I would have terminated the pregnancy,” he said.

We need to get the 8th amendment repealed to safe guard women’s health.

Statement from Galway ProChoice: Savita inquest proves urgent need for legislative change.

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

Email: prochoicegalway@gmail.com

The 8th amendment needs to be repealed for the sake of the health and lives of women.


The Health Service Executive report on the death last year at Galway University Hospital of Savita Halappanavar has found there was an overemphasis by hospital staff on the welfare of Ms Halappanavar’s unviable foetus and an underemphasis on her deteriorating health.

The final draft report says: “The investigating team considers there was an apparent overemphasis on the need not to intervene until the foetal heart stopped, together with an underemphasis on the need to focus an appropriate attention on monitoring for and managing the risk of infection and sepsis in the mother.”

Miscarriage management in this country is based on catholic dogma, which was wedged into our constitution in 1983. If a woman is miscarrying and it is unavoidable and the fetus will not survive, they do not intervene if there is a fetal heartbeat, unless the life of the woman is in imminent danger.

Never mind her physical, mental or emotional heath. She will be left to miscarry (often with out pain relief which may effect the dying fetus and be said to hasten the miscarriage) until her life is at risk or the fetal heart beat stops. In other countries once it is found that the miscarriage is un avoidable and the fetus will not survive women are offered to have the pregnancy ended rather then put them at further risk to their health.

If we had the same model if miscarriage management as other western countries, no woman would be left to suffer and miscarry in such a cruel fashion. X Case legislation will not deal with the risks to the health of women only risk to the life of women in the cases of suicide. The 8th amendment needs to be repealed for the sake of the health and lives of women.

“Why I Voted No” and honest answer from a TD.


Sean Kenny, Labour TD for Dublin North East.

Lisa Powell writes;

I re-e-mailed my TDs re: legislation this morning, this was one response:

Hello Lisa,

You might be aware that Labour TDs including myself, did not support Clare Daly’s billon the X case last night. As your TD, I want to explain why I voted No.

In order to succeed in getting legislation for the X case, I, as a legislator, have to work with the reality of the political games that are being played in order to get X case legislation passed into law.

Fine Gael, Labour’s coalition partners would not support Clare Daly’s bill. I believe that Labour Ministers suggested to them that they should support it. But they did not wish to do so – they want to wait to debate the Expert Group Report which has been published recently. This is because Fine Gael and Labour agreed on the Expert Group process a year ago.

Fine Gael now want to see that through. It is clear on reading the Expert Group
report that the Expert Group believes legislation for the X case and regulations for doctors, is the way forward on this matter.

Fine Gael are a very conservative political party. They do not really want legislation. Labour will have to force them to support legislation.

It is very, very difficult getting them to move on this – but it is working previously, for example, Enda Kenny has said he will not be rushed. But earlier this week he said he would move swiftly.

The really conservative Fine Gael TDs and Ministers are now speaking out in the media about their opposition. They are doing that because they know that Labour is influencing Fine Gael and that they will have to support legislation. They are trying to re-assure their anti-choice voters.

All of that going on in Fine Gael is down to Labour Party TDs and Ministers pushing Fine Gael on this.

As part of that, if Labour, their coalition partner, were to antagonise Fine Gael by supporting Clare Daly’s Bill and breaking with the Expert Group route, Fine Gael will not trust Labour and then there never will be any legislation because Fine Gael will not support it.

I also would like you to consider the way in which Dáil seats are divided up in this Dáil. Each seat in the Dáil is worth one vote.

Labour have 37 seats in the Dáil.
Fine Gael have 74 seats in the Dáil.

Fianna Fáil have 19 seats.
Sinn Féin have 14 seats.
Independents have 20 seats.
ULA have 4 seats.
The Ceann Comhairle has one vote – this vote is cast only in the event
of a tie.
If Fine Gael seats (ie, votes) are left out of the equation, there are not enough TDs who will support legislating for the X case. A number of the FF and Independent TDs are very pro-life – some will vote against legislating and others will simply not show up to vote at all.

Just 27 votes supported Clare Daly’s Bill last night. Even if all the Labour TDs had supported it, it still would have failed to pass.

In other words, for X case legislation to be passed without question in the Dáil, Fine Gael AND Labour are needed to support X case legislation when it comes down to a vote on in the Dáil because they have the most seats, and therefore, the most votes.

Fine Gael control Dáil Éirean and Labour supporting legislation alone will not get that legislation voted through.

Fine Gael are required.Over the next couple of weeks, there will be a debate on the Expert Group report. After that, the Government will decide what steps to take. I
am confident that there will be legislation on the X case and that it will happen within the next two or three months.

Yours sincerely,

Sean Kenny TD

Abortion amendment has been disaster and must go

Abortion amendment has been disaster and must go.

Women must be allowed to make informed decisions about crisis pregnancies

A few days before the 1983 referendum that gave us article 40.3.3 of the Constitution, a heartbroken man spoke out. Brendan Hodgers described the death of his wife Sheila in an Irish hospital.

She had cancer but was taken off all drugs and treatments when she became pregnant because they might harm or kill the foetus. Mr Hodgers said that with his wife screaming in agony, he asked for her to be given an abortion. He got no reply. After giving birth to a premature baby girl who died immediately, Sheila Hodgers died.

He revealed his personal tragedy in the hope that it would remind Irish people that sometimes a woman needs an abortion and that the amendment could cost women’s lives. In the same year, an Irish man was convicted of the rape of two girls aged 14 and 16, both of whom had given birth to babies.

The architects of the amendment swept aside all such sorrowful facts. Ireland was a Catholic country, they insisted. Feminists who said they wanted contraception, women’s refuges, rape crisis centres, support for single mothers and divorce, were out to destroy traditional Irish values. Abortion must be banned in all circumstances. Leading campaigner John Reilly warned that those who opposed the amendment were opportunists whose strategy would be to spread confusion by arguing for abortion in cases of rape, incest, alleged “life and death” situations, and in the case of foetal abnormality.

The counter-strategy was to convince the people that abortion was, in the words of Fine Gael TD Alice Glenn “a slaughter of the innocents”.

The Catholic bishop Joseph Cassidy said in the full confidence of his moral authority that the most dangerous place for a child to be in the world was in a woman’s womb.

The zealots didn’t get the wording they originally wanted. Women were to be given equal rights with the foetus. However, they were confident when the amendment was passed that Ireland was the safest place in the world to be unborn.

In 1992, they were appalled when the Supreme Court ruled that a suicidal 14-year-old girl, pregnant as a result of rape, had a constitutional right to an abortion in Ireland. This followed huge demonstrations of solidarity for the child by the Irish public, with candlelit marches, impassioned debates, and, most potent of all, the brave and sometimes devastated voices of women and children telling their own secret abortion stories to journalists.

The late John McGahern believed pregnancy was a private matter and felt “nothing but shame” upon being asked to vote in the subsequent referendum to give or withhold from women the right to travel or obtain information about abortion. The whole sorry situation was the fault of cowardly politicians who had failed to legislate, he wrote.

Praveen Halapannavar has described the death in agony of his pregnant wife Savita. He said that when, knowing she was miscarrying, she asked for an abortion, she was refused and told that she was in a Catholic country. The foetus died and was delivered, and later Savita died. They should, her grieving husband said, have saved “the bigger life”. The couple could have had other babies.

Anti-abortionists – and let us call them this, for they are no more pro-life than the rest of us – have accused pro-choice activists of being opportunists over this case. There is no problem with our laws or our Constitution, they insist.

But Mr Halapannavar, through his friends, went to the Galway Pro-Choice group and decided with its support to reveal the story of his tragedy because, like Brendan Hodgers 30 years ago, he wanted to let the Irish people know that our prohibition on abortion can cost the lives of women.

Article 40.3.3 has been a disaster. It has led to misery and it has failed to stop women from wanting, needing and in many cases getting abortions.

Ten women a day leave Ireland for terminations, and others go online and order abortion drugs. Proposed restrictions through further amendments were rejected in 1992 and 2002. Opinion polls show steadily increasing support for liberalising abortion law.

Successive governments have claimed legislating for article 40.3.3 is too complicated. This one must give us the chance to remove it and legislate in a way that trusts women to make informed decisions about crisis pregnancies.

Doctors should never be distracted in clinical emergencies by worries about the distinction between life and health, intentional and unintentional outcomes.

This is not a Catholic country. It is not opportunistic to talk about rape and incest and life and death situations and foetal abnormality in relation to abortion. It is the real experience of women.

Who, instinctively and lovingly, does not understand and support what Praveen Halapannavar said about “the bigger life”?

Review of expert group report from Rte Primetime.

Reporter Oonagh Murphy reported on the excerpts of the report from the Expert group set up to review the X Case ruling.


It seems that the expert group reports back that the options are to put in place guidelines, legislation or regulations.

Guidelines, which can be put in place quickly can be easily amended but they would have no legal force behind them and would not meet the recommendations of the EU court of human rights.

Legislation would meet the recommendations of the EU courts of human rights, but it will mean time spent drawing them up, time spent debating for it to be passed. Legislation will take more time and has a lack of flexibility in the future as medical advances are made.

Regulations in conjunction with legislation may offer flexibility but will have to be backed with legislation which will allow the regulations to be changed as needed.

It was also reported that the X Case only deals with the risk to the life of the woman rather then the risk to health and as a result cases like those of Savita may not be covered by anything which the government put in place.

Tuesday the 27th of November has been given for the publication of the report.

Pro life tatics haven’t changed from 1983.

Those who opposed the 8th amendment were accused of being pro abortion and running a campaign for abortion when they were questioning the flawed nature of the 8th amendment.


The 8th Amendment introduced the following clause into Article 40.3 of the Constitution:

3° 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.

Do we need to appeal the 8th amendment?

The reason we are in this mess is 29 years ago when there was pressure to legalise contraception (yes you heard me legalise contraception which happened in 1984) there was a fear as Irish law is case law and precedents that a high court could make a ruling and allow for access to abortion, an Irish Roe V Wade. So we ended up with a bad amendment which even back then legal minds point out could in face result in what it was touted not do to. By constitutional Lawyer Mary Robinson and even in the Dáil by Alan Shatter who is now our Minster for Justice.

So do we need to appeal the 8 amendment and do a better job?
When it was passed Mary Robinson stated that it could lead to putting the lives of women at risk as she was on the side which opposed the amendment.

Constitutional lawyers William Binchy (Pro-Life Amendment Campaign) and Mary Robinson (Anti-Amendment Campaign) debate the legal implications of the result of the referendum on the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution on a Today Tonight Referendum Results special, 8 September 1983.

She pointed out that the term ‘unborn’ was not a legal term and that there would be test cases against the amendment as it was ambiguous. She was right, and women have been paying the price for the last 29 years and it’s time we repealed the 8th amendment.

SOLIDARITY REQUEST : if you are outside Ireland how to get involved.


Protest the death of Savita Halappanavar in Ireland


To: Taoiseach Enda Kenny (Irish Prime Minister)

cc: Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore (Irish Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs)





Copy also to the Irish Embassy in your country. Find contact details here:

Re: Death of Savita Halappanavar in Galway

Honourable Taoiseach,

We are writing to you to express our concern about the recent death of Savita Halappanavar, who was repeatedly denied an abortion in Galway. This tragic case demonstrates once again that the prohibition of abortion in Ireland is not just undermining the autonomy of the women across the country, it is leading to unacceptable suffering and even death.

Savita Halappanavar made repeated requests for an abortion after presenting at University Hospital Galway on 21 October while miscarrying during the 17th week of her pregnancy. Her requests were refused, and she died one week later after several days in agonising pain and distress.

The situation of Savita Halappanavar provides the clearest possible evidence that laws that permit abortion only to save the life of a woman, such as the Irish law, are clinically unworkable and ethically unacceptable. There are numerous clinical situations in which a serious risk posed to a pregnant woman’s health may become a risk to her life, and delaying emergency action only increases that risk. There is only one way to know if a woman’s life is at risk: wait until she has died. Medical practitioners must be empowered by law to intervene on the grounds of risk to life and health, rather than wait for a situation to deteriorate.

You will be aware that the European Court of Human Rights, as well as a number of United Nations human rights bodies, have called upon the Irish government to bring its abortion law in line with international human rights standards. Had these calls been heeded before now, the death of Savita Halappanavar would have been prevented.

With the death of Savita Halappanavar, Ireland joins the ranks of countries worldwide where abortion is denied to women and leads to their deaths.

We call on your government to take urgent and decisive steps to reform the legislation that led to the death of Savita Halappanavar. Until the Irish legal system is reformed the lives, health and autonomy of women across Ireland are in jeopardy.

Yours faithfully,

Galway Pro Choice Were Approached by Savita’s Friends

For Release: Galway Pro Choice Were Approached by Savita’s Friends

As was made clear by Sarah McCarthy of Galway Pro Choice on last night’s Prime Time programme on RTE, Galway Pro Choice were approached by the friends of Savita Praveen Halapannavar on 3rd November 2012. They came to us before going public with her story. Their only wish was to try to make sure that what
happened to Savita would never happen to another woman again in Ireland.

After an initial phone call on 3rd November from a friend of Savita and Praveen’s, Savita’s friends sent Galway Pro Choice an email containing more details of the case. A meeting between Galway Pro Choice and approximately ten of Savita’s friends then took place, during which they explained the facts of the case as they saw them. They believed that a termination may have saved Savita’s life. They requested the assistance of Galway Pro Choice in deciding how to proceed.

Galway Pro Choice presented Savita’s friends with a number of options, including the option of not releasing the story at all. The option of releasing the story anonymously, without a name or place being mentioned, was also discussed. However, Savita’s friends and her husband Praveen felt that going fully public with the tragic story of Savita’s death was what they wanted to do in order to bring home to the public how Ireland’s abortion laws can place pregnant women in danger. A phone call between Galway Pro Choice and Savita’s husband Praveen, in India, also occurred, in which Praveen reiterated his desire to go public with the story.

Galway Pro Choice then put Praveen and his friends in touch with the Irish Times. We explicitly made clear to Praveen and his friends that if they were uncomfortable in any way, at any stage, with any of our activities they should just say so and we would immediately do what they wished. We have informed them in advance of all of our planned activities so far, and they have been supportive of all of them. Savita’s friends were present at the candlelit vigil we held on Saturday in Galway, and expressed their amazement that anyone could say that we were ‘taking advantage of’ or ‘hijacking’ the tragedy of Savita’s death.

Now that these facts have been made clear, any and all implications by anti-choice campaigners or politicians to the effect that Pro-Choice groups are taking advantage of this tragedy should stop. If they do not, they must be interpreted as deliberately misleading statements. As well as being false, they are offensive and potentially upsetting to Savita’s family and friends.

Galway Pro Choice would also like to make the following points:

– We must legislate on the X Case immediately; Government statements that it will take months to get legal clarity are unacceptable.

– Minister for Health James Reilly must instigate a fully independent public inquiry now.

– The Expert Group Report should be released to the public immediately.

– The only way to safeguard the health of pregnant women in Ireland is to guarantee access to free, safe, and legal abortion for all women.

We will be holding a public meeting this Thursday, 22nd November, at 7:30pm in the Harbour Hotel in Galway on the urgent need to legislate for the X Case. Speakers include Clare Daly ULA TD; Mary Smith, a retired midwife and pro-choice activist, and Ailbhe Smyth, former Head of Women’s Studies at University College Dublin, and women’s rights activist. Sarah McCarthy of Galway Pro-Choice will chair the meeting.

On Saturday, December 1st we will be hosting a national demonstration in Galway on the need to immediately legislate for the X Case. The demonstration will assemble at the Spanish Arch at 2pm.

For more information email us at prochoicegalway@gmail.com or call 0860621503 or 0877060715.

Yes Pro Choice groups did know about Savita’s death before the newspapers were published and they respected the family’s requests.