Parents of woman who died when Irish doctors refused to perform abortion meet Indian government to demand justice

Parents of woman who died when Irish doctors refused to perform abortion meet Indian government to demand justice

  • Savita Halappanavar, 31, was found to have miscarried when admitted to Galway University Hospital
  • The dentist, who was 17 weeks pregnant, was denied medical termination and died of blood poisoning on October 28
  • Indian officials have promised parents Anadappa and Akka Mahadevi Yalgi all possible help
  • Pro-choice campaigners plan mass rallies in Ireland calling for abortion legalization

Tragic loss: Savita’s parents installed a shrine to her in their home, in keeping with Hindu tradition

The parents of an Indian woman who died of blood poisoning after Irish doctors refused her an abortion have met with officials to demand justice for their daughter.

Savita Halappanavar, 31, was 17 weeks pregnant when she miscarried and died of blood poisoning a week later.

Her husband Praveen Halappanavar, 34, has shared how he begged doctors at Galway University Hospital to terminate the pregnancy, but they refused because she was “in a Catholic country” and the fetal heartbeat was still present.

The tragedy has sparked a soul search in the Republic of Ireland, where abortion is illegal, and outrage in some quarters.

Campaigners are demanding a change in the law to allow abortion in the event the mother’s life is in danger.

Savita’s parents Anadappa Yalgi, 62, and his wife Akka Mahadevi Yalgi, 54, met with city officials late Friday afternoon at the family home in Belgaum, southwest India.

The grieving couple asked Belgaum’s deputy commissioner, Anbu Kumar, to secure all possible assistance from the Indian government.

Mr Kumar said of the meeting: “I have visited the house and offered the assistance of our government where possible.”

Seeking justice: Belgaum's deputy commissioner Anbu Kumar (left) promised Savita's father Anadappa Yalgi every possible help

Seeking justice: Belgaum’s deputy commissioner Anbu Kumar (left) promised Savita’s father Anadappa Yalgi every possible help

Pay respect: The deputy commissioner paused for a moment of reflection in front of Savita's shrine sh

Pay respect: The deputy commissioner paused for a moment of reflection in front of Savita’s shrine sh

Savita's mother, left, had asked her daughter to return to Belgaum to give birth, but Savita thought she would be safer in Ireland

Savita’s mother, left, had asked her daughter to return to Belgaum to give birth, but Savita thought she would be safer in Ireland

A photo of Savita now hangs in the family home covered with a flower garland, as is customary in the Hindu community in India after the death of a loved one.

Following her parents’ comments, the Indian Ambassador to Ireland said today that Ms Halappanavar might still be alive today if she had been treated in India.

Debashish Chakravartic told RTÉ radio that he hoped the Irish government would take steps to ensure the circumstances leading to her death would never recur.

Abortion is not illegal in India if the mother’s life is in danger, the ambassador noted.

Meanwhile, Ireland’s ambassador to India, Feilim McLaughlin, was officially summoned by the Delhi government on Friday to discuss an investigation into Ms Halappanavar’s death.

Madhusudan Ganapathi, Secretary (West) of the Foreign Office, told the Irish envoy he hoped the investigation into the tragedy would be independent.

He also conveyed the sadness that people in India felt because “a young life had come to an untimely end.”

Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid said of the tragedy: “Saving the mother’s life is paramount, if you cannot save the child’s life.”

Devastated: Praveen Halappanavar (pictured with wife Savita in their Galway home) says he watched helplessly as she died of blood poisoning from miscarriage after doctors refused to perform an abortion

Devastated: Praveen Halappanavar (pictured with wife Savita in their Galway home) says he watched helplessly as she died of blood poisoning from miscarriage after doctors refused to perform an abortion

Savita Halappanavar, 31, died at Galway University Hospital, where doctors refused to perform a medical termination because she was

Savita Halappanavar, 31, died at Galway University Hospital, where doctors refused to perform a medical termination because she was “in a Catholic country” and the fetal heartbeat was still present

Mr Halappanavar, Savita’s husband, has described how he held her hand when she died.

Reliving her last moments, he said: ‘In the night, about one o’clock, the nurse came running, while I was outside the ICU.

“She just told me to be brave, and she took me to Savita, and she said, ‘Would it be all right for you to be there and live her last minutes?

‘I said, ‘Yes, I will’. I held her hand, they tried to pump her heart, there was a big team around. The doctor just told me they lost her.’

Mr. Halappanavar, who works as an engineer at Boston Scientific in Galway, came to Ireland with his wife from India four years ago to start a new life together. She had a job in Westport, Co Mayo and the couple lived in the city of Galway.

Public outcry: The tragedy has sparked a huge amount of soul-searching in the Republic of Ireland, as activists are demanding a change in law to allow abortions when the mother's life is in danger

Public outcry: The tragedy has sparked a huge amount of soul-searching in the Republic of Ireland, as activists are demanding a change in law to allow abortions when the mother’s life is in danger

Happy couple: Savita and her husband Praveen dance at the 2010 Diwali festival in Galway, video from youtube

Happy couple: Savita and her husband Praveen dance at the 2010 Diwali festival in Galway, video from YouTube

They were so excited about the expected birth of their first child, due on March 20, that they had an early baby shower in recent weeks when Ms Halappanavar’s parents visited.

Pro-choice activists in Ireland have turned to social media networks to stage a mass protest against the country’s abortion laws on Saturday.

A demonstration in central Dublin is expected to attract several thousand protesters, and will follow similar demonstrations on Thursday evening in Belfast and on Friday in Derry.

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