Husband criticises Savita delay
The husband of the late Savita Halappanavar is “not at all happy” at the failure to deliver a preliminary report into his wife’s death before Christmas.
Praveen Halappanavar and his solicitor, Gerard O’Donnell, met Minister for Health James Reilly in Athlone on Wednesday night, at the request of the Minister.
They had been assured last month that they would receive a preliminary report “before Christmas” from the Health Service Executive inquiry into the death on October 28th of Ms Halappanavar (31) at Galway University Hospital. Mr O’Donnell says they expected to receive this at the Athlone meeting.
Ms Halappanavar died at the Galway hospital seven days after she had presented with back pain at its maternity unit. She had been 17 weeks pregnant and was found to be miscarrying. Her husband says she asked repeatedly over a three-day period for a termination but was refused as there was a foetal heartbeat present and they were told “this is a Catholic country”.
An autopsy carried out by Dr Grace Callagy two days later found she died of septicaemia “documented ante-mortem” and E.coli ESBL.
The HSE inquiry into her death was established on November 20th under the chairman ship of Prof Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, head of obstetrics and gynaecology at St George’s Hospital, University of London.
Refused to participate
The inquiry team had initially included three staff members from Galway University Hospital although they were later removed and replaced following objections by Mr Halappanavar.
Mr Halappanavar has refused to participate in the HSE inquiry as it is being held in private. He and Ms Halappanavar’s family in India are seeking a public, sworn inquiry.
Mr O’Donnell said when he and his client had set out for Athlone on Wednesday evening they had been expecting to receive the text of Prof Arulkumaran’s initial findings.
“We had expected to be perusing a document of some kind. Instead what we got was a sort of verbal report. Praveen indicated he was not at all happy with that and the Minister took that on board.
“The reality is we were to receive a report and the reality is we have received nothing.
“We are now being told it will be the end of January, possibly February,” he said.
“Under the European Convention of Human Rights a death such as this should be investigated promptly.
“We did tell the Minister that if there are any further delays we will put a line in the sand, and sit down with counsel about taking the case to Europe,” he added.
They decided they would not take a case to Europe until the HSE inquiry had concluded.
He said Mr Halappanavar was under “a lot of strain himself and also under pressure from her family to get answers on this”.
“I do think the Minister wants to be able to give us the report. All we can do now is trust his assurances.”
A spokesman for Dr Reilly said the Minister had a private meeting with Mr Halappanavar and his legal representative. “The meeting was a private one and followed their earlier meeting [in Galway] on Friday, November 23rd.”
'Extreme language, I don't think that's the way we go forward' - Archbishop of Dublin on receiving a threat over abortion stance
Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin has spoken of how he received a threatening letter about his views on abortion.
On Thursday the Archbishop was asked to comment on reports that Taoiseach Enda Kenny had received a message threatening “revenge for Cloyne”.
Archbishop Martin responded: “All I can say is that I’ve received also a threatening letter which says because of my views on abortion I should be careful when I go out on the streets. So, there are strange people around . . . I have no bulletproof vest on and I’m sure the Taoiseach .”
He said “extreme language, personal attacks, I don’t think that’s the way we go forward.”
The Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children will begin three days of hearings into the abortion issue on Tuesday, January 8th.
A range of experts and lobby groups will be invited to appear as witnesses . In a statement yesterday the committee said the hearings follow the decision by the Government to address the issues raised in the ABC judgment with legislation and regulations, within the parameters of article 40.3.3 of the Constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court.
The committee will hear contributions from experienced medical practitioners, legal experts, representatives of churches, religious groups and advocacy groups.
The committee chairman, Cork South Central TD Jerry Buttimer, said yesterday the Government had requested the assistance of the committee in the gathering of information to be considered in the drafting of the Heads of Bill.