Praveen Halappanavar to meet Minister for Health next month

Vigils underway this evening to mark first anniversary of Savita Halappanavar’s death

People attend a Candlelit vigil at St Stephen’s Green in Dublin to mark one year since the death of Savita Halappanavar. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

People attend a Candlelit vigil at St Stephen’s Green in Dublin to mark one year since the death of Savita Halappanavar. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

 

The widower of Indian dentist Savita Halappanavar will ask Minister for Health James Reilly why his wife was allowed to die when they come face-to-face next month.

As candlelight vigils got under way tonight to mark the first anniversary of his wife’s death, Praveen Halappanavar will prepare for his next encounter with Dr Reilly, which is expected to take place within a fortnight.

Mr Halappanavar’s solicitor Gerard O’Donnell confirmed his client had received a long-awaited invitation to meet the minister, the details of which have yet to be agreed upon.

“The invitation only came on Friday so we still have to sit down and decide what time and date suits,” Mr O’Donnell said.

“We have been asking to meet James Reilly for quite some time now, so Praveen will be eager to put his questions to him.”

Mrs Halappanavar died on October 28th last year at Galway University Hospital.

The 31-year-old was 17 weeks pregnant when she was admitted to the hospital a week earlier undergoing a miscarriage. She suffered from septicaemia.

Her widower has maintained that she repeatedly requested a termination but was refused because a foetal heartbeat was present.

Mr Halappanavar has met Dr Reilly before, but three major reports have since emerged and the widower is hoping to finally discuss their results.

A clinical review into his wife’s death carried out by the hospital, a coroner’s inquest and a report by the Health Information and Quality Authority have been completed over the year.

Mr O’Donnell said while his client “has a clear picture” of the cause of his wife’s death and the events that led to it, he still wants to know why they were allowed to happen.

Mr Halappanavar is likely to challenge the health minister about his views on the level of accountability surrounding the treatment his wife received.

Last month, the widower’s solicitor initiated legal proceedings against health chiefs and Mrs Halappanavar’s obstetrician.

A personal injury summons was served against the Health Service Executive and Dr Katherine Astbury alleging negligence in the death of the 31-year-old.

An inquest in April into the pregnant woman’s death returned a verdict of medical misadventure, but no blame was attributed to any individuals.

A separate inquiry found medics in the Galway hospital missed an early opportunity to terminate her pregnancy on health grounds and unacceptable clinical practice.

The case sparked massive debate among obstetricians and politicians over whether the guidelines medics had been operating under were clear.

It also caused worldwide outcry and led to the Government eventually passing legislation for the first time to allow abortion in limited circumstances, which was enshrined into law during the summer.

Meanwhile, hundreds were expected to attend candlelight vigils to mark the anniversary of Mrs Halappanavar’s death.

The vigils were being held in Galway, Cork and Dublin, with those in the capital paying their respects at the gates of St Stephen’s Green.