Savita Halappanavar’s story is a complicated one. The 31-year-old dentist died at a hospital in Ireland on October 28 following a miscarriage at 17 weeks. In the wake of her tragic demise, her husband, Praveen, is claiming that an abortion — which the hospital refused — would have saved her life.
According to Halappanavar’s family, the native of India asked numerous times if staff members at University Hospital Galway would terminate her pregnancy. Her husband claims that medical professionals repeatedly insisted that Ireland is “a Catholic country” and that, as a result, an abortion would not be permitted.
In an interview following his wife’s untimely death, Praveen told the BBC that he is confident that his wife would still be alive if the hospital complied with her request. While Savita’s pregnancy commenced normally and she was overjoyed at the prospect of having her first child, the situation changed dramatically last month when she began having back pain.
Once she reached the hospital, she was told that she was having a miscarriage and that it would be over in just a few hours. But the pain didn’t improve, so she asked for the abortion. When her request was repeatedly rejected, she was confused.
“They said unfortunately she can’t because it’s a Catholic country,” Praveen said. “Savita said to her she is not Catholic, she is Hindu, and why impose the law on her.”
The story has attracted so much attention, that Irish politicians are speaking out:
The hospital, though, said that they could not terminate while a heartbeat was detectable, thus she was purportedly left to miscarry naturally. After three days later, Savita died. University Hospital Galway is launching its own investigation into the unexpected death as is Ireland’s Health Service Executive (HSE).
Pro-choice advocates are likely to hold the case up as an example of what might go wrong when abortion is ruled illegal. In Ireland, the procedure is not allowed unless the mother’s life is at risk (a health risk, though, is not considered a viable excuse). Savita’s cause of death was a blood infection. Additional details will likely emerge as the case progresses.