Reilly wants HSE Savita inquiry to proceed
Minister for Health James Reilly and his officials appear determined to proceed with an inquiry into the death of Savita Halappanavar despite opposition from her husband and criticism from anti-abortion activists.
Dr Reilly said he had a duty of care to women to ensure there weren’t any unsafe practices in Galway University Hospital, where Ms Halappanavar died last month. He said he wanted the Health Service Executive to get on with the investigation as quickly as possible.
The HSE yesterday stood down the three members of the inquiry team who were consultants at the hospital. However, Ms Halappanavars husband Praveen said he would not co-operate with any investigation run by the HSE.
Mr Halappanavar is seeking a public investigation of the death of his wife, who died of septicaemia seven days after she presented with back pain. She had been 17 weeks pregnant and her husband says she asked repeatedly for a termination but was refused as there was a foetal heartbeat present.
However, Dr Reilly said a public inquiry would take longer to carry out than the private inquiry currently proposed and the answers to what happened would be “an awful lot” slower to come out.
HSE director designate Tony O’Brien said it needed the full co-operation of the family in order to get to the bottom of what happened. “I must make arrangements for this to proceed,” he told the Oireachtas health committee.
The chairman of the inquiry, Prof Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, is seeking a direct meeting with Mr Halappanavar. However, Mr Halappanavar told The Irish Times he would not meet the chairman.
The choice of Prof Arulkumaran to chair the inquiry was criticised last night by the Pro Life Campaign. It said the appointment was “unfortunate and inappropriate” given “his strong advocacy of very liberal abortion laws.
The Dáil last night began debating a Sinn Féin motion calling on the Government to implement the Supreme Court decision in the X case. A Government counter-motion will commit to the publication of a report on abortion commissioned by Dr Reilly .