Medics said ’it’s a Catholic thing’, friend tells Galway inquest

Midwife told Savita Halappanavar termination not done here, inquest hears

Mrudula Vasealli was a  witness at the inquest into the death of Savita Halappanavar in Galway today. Photograph: Eric Luke / THE IRISH TIMES

Mrudula Vasealli was a witness at the inquest into the death of Savita Halappanavar in Galway today. Photograph: Eric Luke / THE IRISH TIMES

Tue, Apr 9, 2013, 19:30

A friend of Savita Halappanavar has told an inequest that medical staff at Galway University Hospital refused to carry out a termination on Savita Halappanavar because “it's a Catholic thing”.

Mrudula Vasealli said she and Ms Halappanavar asked a midwife in the hospital whether something could be done to stop her baby's heartbeat.

At the time last October, Ms Halappanavar's pregnancy was not viable because her membranes had ruptured but the foetal heartbeat was still present.

Ms Vasealli said the midwife went off to check with a doctor and when she returned, said: “We don't do that here dear. It's a Catholic thing”.

Her version of events tallies with that of Ms Halappanavar's husband Praveen, who says the couple asked for a termination on three occasions over two days. However, hospital staff dispute this.

“The nurses were lovely. They took care of her. It's the system that is wrong,” Ms Vasealli told the inquest this morning.

Galway coroner Ciaran McLoughlin asked lawyers for the HSE if it was possible to identify the midwife to whom ms Vasealli had spoken. Declan Buckley SC, for the HSE, said he didn't think it was possible.

Eugene Gleeson SC, for Mr Halappanavar, said the HSE had refused to provide them with the staff roster for the period. Mr Buckley said this wasn't correct. It wasn't appropriate for the HSE to provide the documentation at an inquest. Mr McLoughlin said he wasn't entitled to seek discovery of the document.