Parents of a woman who died when Irish doctors refused an abortion meet with the Indian government to demand justice
- Savita Halappanavar, 31, was diagnosed with a miscarriage when admitted to Galway University Hospital
- The dentist, who was 17 weeks pregnant, was denied a medical abortion and died of blood poisoning on October 28
- Indian officials have promised parents Anadappa and Akka Mahadevi Yalgi any help they can get
- Pro-choice activists are planning mass rallies in Ireland calling for abortion to be legalized
A tragic loss: Savita’s parents built her a shrine in their house according to 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 a week later of blood poisoning.
Her husband Praveen Halappanavar, 34, has told how he begged doctors at Galway University Hospital to terminate the pregnancy, but they refused because she was “in a Catholic country” and the fetus’s heartbeat was still there.
The tragedy has sparked soul searching in the Republic of Ireland, where abortion is illegal, and considerable anger in some circles.
Activists are calling for a law change to allow abortions when the mother’s life is in danger.
Savita’s parents Anadappa Yalgi, 62, and his wife Akka Mahadevi Yalgi, 54, met with city government officials late Friday afternoon at the family home in Belgaum, southwest India.
The grieving couple asked Belgaum Deputy Commissioner Anbu Kumar to help secure any help they could get from the Indian government.
Mr Kumar said of the encounter: “I visited the house and offered our government’s help where possible.”
Seeking justice: Belgaum’s deputy commissioner Anbu Kumar (left) promised Savita’s father Anadappa Yalgi all the help he could
Paying respect: The deputy commissioner paused for a moment of reflection in front of Savita’s shrine
Savita’s mother, left, had asked her daughter to return to Belgaum for the birth, but Savita felt safer in Ireland
A photo of Savita now hangs covered with a garland in the family home, as is the tradition in the Indian Hindu community following the death of a loved one.
Echoing what her parents said, India’s Ambassador to Ireland said today that Ms Halappanavar could be alive today if she had received treatment in India.
Debash Chakravarti told Radio RTÉ he hoped the Irish Government would take steps to ensure the circumstances that led to her death 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 formally summoned by the government in Delhi on Friday to discuss an inquest into Ms Halappanavar’s death.
Madhusudan Ganapathi, Secretary (West) at the Foreign Office, told the Irish envoy he hoped the investigation into the tragedy would be independent.
He also expressed the sadness felt by the people of India when “a young life had come to an untimely end”.
India’s Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid said of the tragedy: “Saving the life of the mother is of paramount importance when you cannot save the life of the child.”
Devastated: Praveen Halappanavar (pictured with his wife Savita at their home in Galway) says he watched helplessly as she died of blood poisoning from 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 because she was “in a Catholic country” and the fetus’s heartbeat was still present
Mr. Halappanavar, Savita’s husband, has described holding her hand as she died.
Re-living her final moments, he said: “That night, around one o’clock, the nurse came running as I was standing in front of the intensive care unit.
“She just told me to be brave, and she took me to see Savita, and she said, ‘Are you going to be okay to be there and live her last minutes?
“I said, ‘Yes, I will’. I held their hand, they tried to get their heart pumping, there was a big team there. The doctor just told me they lost her.’
Mr Halappanavar, an engineer with 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 Galway City.
Public outcry: The tragedy has sparked a major soul-searching in the Republic of Ireland, where activists are calling for a law change to allow abortions when the mother’s life is in danger
Happy couple: Savita and her husband Praveen dance at Diwali Festival 2010 in Galway, video from YouTube
They were so excited about the expected birth of their first child, who was expected on March 20, that they had an early baby shower in recent weeks when Ms Halappanavar’s parents were visiting.
Pro-choice activists in Ireland have taken to social media networks to organize a mass protest against the country’s abortion laws on Saturday.
A rally in central Dublin is expected to draw several thousand protesters and follows similar rallies in Belfast on Thursday night and in Derry on Friday.