HSE report was a whitewash, say Savita Halappanavar’s parents
Parents tell of their grief and why they believe justice has not been done
Mahadevi and Andanappa Yalagi, parents of Savita Halappanavar, hold her portrait as their house in Belgaum in the southern Indian state of Karnataka. Photograph: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters
The parents of Savita Halappanavar have described the HSE report into her death as “a whitewash”. And they say the Government’s proposed legislation on abortion does not go far enough to save women’s lives.
Speaking to The Irish Times in their home in the Sri Nigar area of Belgaum, in the southern Indian province of Karnataka yesterday, they say nobody takes responsibility for their only daughter’s death in the recently published HSE report into her care and death at Galway’s University Hospital last October.
‘Our only daughter’
Andanappa Yalagi and his wife Akamahadevi break down several times while recalling what happened. Apologising for his tears, Mr Yalagi says: “Every time I think of her I cannot help it. She was our only daughter. She was a very sweet daughter for us.”
Mr Yalagi has read the report of the HSE inquiry into Savita’s death on the internet. “I have read the news reports about it and they are very clear. It is only a clinical report. There is no responsibility in it. It is a whitewash for everyone. The Government is hiding behind the doctors and the hospital, and the doctors and hospital are hiding behind the law. It is not enough. There are lots of recommendations for what should have been done and what should be done in the future, but what about my Savita? Someone must take care and responsibility for my Savita.”
Asked about the litany of failures pinpointed in the HSE report, including the inadequate assessment and monitoring of Savita’s condition in the hospital, he says he and his wife take some satisfaction from these issues being highlighted. “There were so many failures, yes. But why is no-one taking responsibility? In India, if a healthy person died like this in a hospital there would be responsibility. We have not got justice from this report. My daughter’s life has been sacrificed and there needs to be justice for that.”
Savita Halappanavar (31) died at the Galway hospital on October 28th last year, having presented a week earlier with severe back pain. She had been 17 weeks pregnant and was found to be miscarrying. She asked for a termination and this was refused because the foetal heartbeat was present. One staff member, senior midwife Ann Maria Burke, told the inquest into her death in April that she had explained to Savita an abortion was not possible while the foetus’s heart was beating and that this was a “Catholic thing”.
The heartbeat stopped four days after Savita was admitted and the womb contents were removed. However, Savita died in the intensive care unit having contracted septicaemia.