Anti-abortion groups welcome inquest recommendations

Iona Institute says starting point must be guidelines from the Medical Council

Savita Halappanavar’s death triggerd pro-choice protests around the country. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Savita Halappanavar’s death triggerd pro-choice protests around the country. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times


Recommendations made in the Savita Halappanavar case has received a broad welcome from anti-abortion groups.

Returning a verdict of medical misadventure in the case, the jury issued nine recommendations including that the Medical Council “should lay out exactly when a doctor can intervene to save the life of the mother in similar circumstances”.

Dr Patricia Casey, of Catholic think-tank the Iona Institute, said if all the recommendations were implemented they would “act to ensure that this situation of multiple systems failures doesn’t occur again”.

She said she had “no difficulty” with the call for the Medical Council to clarify when an intervention should take place to save the life of a mother.

“It is the Medical Council that should be doing this and not the law,” she said.

“If this were done by Medical Council guidelines that could be incorporated into ministerial guidelines ... the starting point has to be the Medical Council and the doctors themselves giving clarity to obstetricians as to when they can intervene to save a woman’s life in this instance.”

She said the introduction of legislation based on the X-case judgment would cause “endless problems”.

The Pro-life Campaign also welcomed the recommendations.

Spokeswoman Dr Berry Kiely said the campaign welcomed all of the recommendations including the call for guidelines to provide clarity for doctors in relation to medical interventions for women in pregnancy, which may result “in the unintended loss of the baby”.

“It is now clear from the facts presented at the inquest, that a number of what the inquest terms systems failures and communications shortcomings significantly delayed the moment at which the medical team recognised the seriousness of her condition and carried out the appropriate medical intervention,” Dr Kiely said.

She said “the manner in which those seeking the introduction of abortion legislation based on the X case ruling have exploited the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar all along”, was “little short of shameless”.

Dr Kiely also acknowledged “how difficult and upsetting the experience of the inquest must have been for Savita’s husband”.

“I hope that the manner in which the inquest was conducted has brought clarify to the events which led to the tragic death of his wife,” she said.