Public inquiry demanded into death of woman refused abortion
Mr Halappanavar yesterday repeated his belief that his wife would not have died if she had been given the termination that the couple repeatedly asked for in the hospital. Asked whether he thought things could have turned out differently if a termination had been carried out, he said: “Yes of course.”
Speaking to The Irish Times from Belgaum in southwestern India, his wife’s home region, he said Ireland’s reputation for being a “good place to have a baby” was among the factors in their decision to start a family here. “All our friends had great stories to tell about the babies they had in Ireland. So we decided we’d go there. We had heard Ireland was a good place to have a baby. Most of our friends there had babies there and they’re all fine and so we decided: have a baby in Ireland.”
A postmortem has been carried out on Ms Halappanavar and the coroner has been notified. The couple came to Ireland in 2008. She had a dental post in Westport, Co Mayo.
Several hundred people gathered at Leinster House last night to demonstrate in favour of abortion legislation, while candle-lit vigils were held in Cork, Limerick and London. Further protests are planned in Dublin, Limerick, Belfast and Galway in coming days.
Minister for Health Dr James Reilly said it would be an extremely serious matter if there had been any hesitation in relation to Ms Halappanavar because of moral or religious beliefs. However, he said he had no evidence of the application of a Catholic bias in relation to treatment and he warned against prejudging the circumstances surrounding the death.
Dr Reilly said it was a terrible tragedy for the family involved. For the staff involved, it was an emotionally traumatic time and they were entitled to due process.
Speaking in the Dáil, he said he had asked his officials to consider the report of the expert group on abortion, which had been submitted to his department on Tuesday.
Independent Senator Ronan Mullen described the case as deeply tragic but said it should not be “used as a wedge by abortion campaigners”
He added: “Its regrettable that some people are seeking to use this tragedy as an argument for legislating for the Supreme Court decision in the X case”.
Two years ago, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Ireland had failed to provide for abortion in circumstances where the mother’s life is at risk. The decision means Ireland has to legislate but Dr Reilly is facing resistance from within Fine Gael to any liberalisation of the laws on abortion.
*This article was amended on November 16th, 2012, to correct a factual error.