Consultant to deny key elements of claims made by Savita Halappanavar’s husband

Inquest to be told ‘Ireland is a Catholic country’ conversation never took place

Praveen Halappanavar, the husband of the late Savita Halappanavar, at her inquest in Galway yesterday. Photograph: Eric Luke

Praveen Halappanavar, the husband of the late Savita Halappanavar, at her inquest in Galway yesterday. Photograph: Eric Luke

Tue, Apr 9, 2013, 10:05

The inquest into the death of Savita Halappanavar, which was resuming at 10am today, is expected to hear the consultant who treated her contest key elements of her husband Praveen’s account of her treatment at Galway University Hospital.

Obstetrician Dr Katherine Astbury, who is due to give evidence to the inquest in coming days, denies ever having said Ms Halappanavar could not get a termination “because Ireland is a Catholic country”, as Mr Halappanavar again claimed in his evidence yesterday.

Termination

He told the inquest that he and his wife asked Dr Astbury for a termination on two occasions last October after learning that she was miscarrying at 17 weeks.

Ms Halappanavar died of septicaemia one week after being admitted to the hospital.

However, Dr Astbury’s lawyers said that, four days after Ms Halappanavar’s admission to hospital, she told her that if her condition did not improve she might have to consider a termination “regardless of the foetal heartbeat”.

Lawyers for the hospital said Dr Astbury “didn’t mention anything about Catholicism” in discussions with the couple.

They also disputed Mr Halappanavar’s timing of key meetings and claimed he could not have been present for one meeting as claimed because he was bringing his wife’s parents to Dublin airport at the time.

Witness box 

However, Mr Halappanavar, who spent most of the day in the witness box, said he had given his best recollection of events and pointed out he was with his wife most of the time during her stay in the hospital.

He said the “Catholic” comment was made in the presence of a midwife, two junior doctors, and a family friend.

His account was supported by family friend and orthopaedic consultant Dr CVD Prasad, who told the inquest Mr Halappanavar kept telling him “he was told it was a Catholic country and it was against the law to terminate”.

Dr Astbury will deny this exchange took place, her lawyers said yesterday.

Mr Halappanavar acknowledged he may have got the timing of some events wrong.

He also accused the hospital of making retrospective changes to his wife’s medical records.