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 suffered a miscarriage when she was admitted to Galway University Hospital.
- The dentist, who was 17 weeks pregnant, was denied a medical abortion and died of septicemia on October 28.
- Indian officials have promised parents Anadappa and Akka Mahadevi Yalgi all possible help.
- Pro-choice activists plan mass demonstrations in Ireland calling for legalized abortion
A tragic loss: Savita’s parents have set up a shrine for her in their home, according to Hindu tradition
The parents of an Indian woman who died of blood poisoning after being denied an abortion by Irish doctors have met with officials to demand justice for their daughter.
Savita Halappanavar, 31, was 17 weeks pregnant when she began miscarrying and died of septicemia a week later.
Her husband, Praveen Halappanavar, 34, has told how she begged doctors at Galway University Hospital to terminate the pregnancy, but they refused to do so because she was “in a Catholic country” and the fetus’s heartbeat was still present.
The tragedy has sparked soul-searching in the Republic of Ireland, where abortion is illegal, as well as considerable anger in some quarters.
Activists demand a change in the law to allow abortion in case the mother’s life is in danger.
Savita’s parents, Anadappa Yalgi, 62, and his wife Akka Mahadevi Yalgi, 54, met municipal government officials Friday afternoon at the family home in Belgaum, southwest India.
The grieving couple asked Belgaum Deputy Commissioner Anbu Kumar to help ensure all possible assistance from the Indian government.
Mr Kumar said of the encounter: “I visited the house and offered our government’s help wherever possible.”
Seeking justice: Belgaum deputy commissioner Anbu Kumar (left) promised Savita’s father Anadappa Yalgi all possible help.
Paying his respects: Deputy Commissioner pauses for reflection at Savita shrine
Savita’s mother (left) had asked her daughter to return to Belgaum to give birth, but Savita felt she would be safer in Ireland.
A photograph of Savita now hangs in the garland-draped family home, as is traditional in India’s Hindu community after the death of a loved one.
Echoing comments made by her parents, India’s ambassador to Ireland said today that Mrs Halappanavar could still be alive if she had been treated in India.
Debashish Chakravarti He told RTÉ radio that he hoped the Irish government would take action to ensure that the circumstances that led to his death never arise again.
Abortion is not illegal in India when the mother’s life is at risk, the ambassador said.
Meanwhile, Ireland’s ambassador to India, Feilim McLaughlin, was officially summoned by the Delhi government on Friday to discuss an inquiry into Ms Halappanavar’s death.
Madhusudan Ganapathi, secretary (west) at the Ministry of External Affairs, told the Irish envoy that he hoped the investigation into the tragedy would be independent.
He also conveyed the sadness felt by the people of India that “a young life had come to a premature end.”
India’s Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid said of the tragedy: “Saving the life of the mother is of utmost importance, if the life of the child cannot be saved.”
Devastated: Praveen Halappanavar (pictured with his wife Savita at their home in Galway) says he watched helplessly as she died from blood poisoning due to a miscarriage after doctors refused to perform an abortion.
Savita Halappanavar, 31, died at Galway University Hospital, where doctors refused to perform a medical abortion on her because she was “in a Catholic country” and the fetus’s heartbeat was still present.
Halappanavar, Savita’s husband, has described how he held her hand as she died.
Reliving her last moments, she said: ‘At night, around one o’clock, the nurse came running, while I was outside the ICU.
“She just told me to be brave, took me close to Savita and said, ‘Will you be okay if you’re there, living out her last minutes?’
‘I said, “Yes, I do.” I was holding her hand, they were trying to pump her heart, there was a big team around her. The doctor just told me they lost her.
Halappanavar, who works as an engineer at Boston Scientific in Galway, came to Ireland from India with his wife four years ago to start a new life together. She had a job in Westport, Co Mayo and the couple lived in Galway city.
Public outcry: The tragedy has sparked enormous soul-searching in the Republic of Ireland, with campaigners demanding a change in the law to allow abortions when the mother’s life is in danger.
Happy Couple: Savita and her husband Praveen dancing at Diwali 2010 festival in Galway, YouTube video
They were so excited about the long-awaited birth of their first child, due on March 20, that they had an early baby shower in recent weeks when Mrs. Halappanavar’s parents were visiting.
Pro-choice activists in Ireland took to social media to organize a mass protest against the country’s abortion laws on Saturday.
A demonstration in central Dublin is expected to attract several thousand protesters, following similar demonstrations on Thursday night in Belfast and on Friday in Derry.