Tag Archives: Savita Halappanavar


Savita Halappavanar

Today marks the fourth anniversary of the death of Savita Halappavanar.

Miscarrying and denied a termination for medical reasons on grounds of legality, Savita’s requests to Galway Maternity Hospital were met with the now-infamous refrain of “this is a Catholic country”.

The following four years saw initial outrage at her treatment solidify into a sustained pro-choice movement, mobilising and campaigning with increasing visibility for a repeal of the Eighth Amendment.

Sinéad Redmond, of AIMS Ireland, writes:

Savita Halappanavar died on this day 4 years ago in Galway University Hospital. She died in suffering and in pain, because she was pregnant, having been denied basic medical care she and her husband Praveen repeatedly requested.

She died because abortion is illegal in nearly all circumstances in Ireland and even now remains so; but she also died because she was a pregnant migrant woman and a woman of colour in Ireland. Migrant women are twice as likely to die in pregnancy in Ireland as women born in Ireland and the UK.

Nora Hyland, Bimbo Onanuga, and Dhara Kivlehan are all names of migrant women who’ve died in or after pregnancy in recent years in Irish maternity hospitals who should be alive now with their children. Only a few months ago Malak Thawley died in an operating theatre of the NMH after basic surgical equipment “could not be found” to stop her bleeding to death.

Our maternity service is not a sufficiently safe place for migrant women, Traveller women, and women of colour; the denial of access to abortion in it only renders it more so, as demonstrated most recently and horrendously with the barbarities the Irish state perpetrated upon Ms Y.

I remember #Savita and I remember the tears I cried for her on hearing how she was left to die unnecessarily. I remember Bimbo and how she was told she was exaggerating the pain which was a symptom of the uterine rupture she later died of, and how it took her partner and AIMS Ireland THREE YEARS of fighting to even get an inquest opened into her death.

I remember Nora Hyland and how she died of a massive cardiac event after waiting over 40 minutes for a blood transfusion that never came, and with three times the recommended dose of Syntometrine in her body, a component of which is known to have adverse cardiac effects.

I remember Dhara Kivlehan and how her doctor told her husband as she went undiagnosed of a fatal liver disorder that it was harder to diagnose Indian people with jaundice, a key indicator of liver failure.

I remember all these women, their partners, and their families and how they were not only mistreated appallingly by the Irish maternity system in life, not permitted as pregnant women to have the final say on their own bodies because of the existence of the 8th amendment, and how further indignity and injury was heaped upon their grieving families by the Irish state and maternity hospitals in refusing to address properly the causes of their death, apologise for them or treat their partners with the respect they deserved.

I remember and I fight for change that sometimes seems as though it will never come, especially on days like today where the darkness closes in early and the memory of the horror and outrage and grief of 4 years ago weighs heavily on me. But I do fight.

Solidarity and love to those of you who fight with me, those of you who’ve fought for years and decades longer than me, and those of you who’ve seen more suffering caused by Irish law and Irish maternity hospitals than I can imagine. We will remember and we will bring about change.

I said this last year, and the year before; I say it again this year, and will every year until everyone in Ireland with a womb owns their own body.


A candlelit vigil for Savita will happen at the Spanish Arch in Galway at 6pm this evening.

AIMS Ireland

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Pictures from last night’s vigil for the late Savita Halappanavar in Eyre Square, Galway.

Yesterday was the second anniversary of the 31-year-old dentist’s death at University Hospital Galway.

Meanwhile, in Dublin…


A vigil at Stephen’s Green, Dublin last night.

Taken by Sinister Images (Facebook)

Previously: Free Today?


Praveen Halappanavar and his late wife, Savita

Galway Independent writes:

A vigil for Savita Halappanavar will take place in Eyre Square today, on the second anniversary of the 31-year-old dentist’s death at University Hospital Galway. The memorial will take place in front of the Browne Doorway, where photographs of Savita will be on display. From noon, members of the public are invited to leave their thoughts on Savita in the form of written messages. Galway Pro-Choice will collect these messages and present them to Savita’s family and friends. The public are also free to leave flowers at the site. At 6pm, there will be a candlelit vigil, to which everybody who wishes to commemorate Savita is welcome.


Screen Shot 2014-10-28 at 10.48.42

Activists, including Nell McCafferty, centre, arriving in Dublin from Belfast in 1971

A number of pro choice activists will travel from Connolly Station in Dublin today to Belfast, in order to bring abortion pills back to Dublin with them. Abortion pills are banned in Ireland.

They will arrive back at Connolly Station at 2.30pm.

The action recalls how members of the Irish Women’s Liberation Movement took the Contraception Train, from Dublin to Belfast, in 1971 to bring back condoms and the Pill, which were illegal in the Republic of Ireland at the time.

Galway Independent (Facebook)

Greet the abortion pill train (Rosa)

Contraception Train (RTÉ, 1971 footage)

Previously: Illegal Abortion In Ireland


On last night’s Tonight with Vincent Browne, Vincent was joined by UCD lecturer Ailbhe Smyth and John McGuirk to review the newspapers.

The discussion turned to Paul Cullen’s story in the Irish Times of staff in University Hospital Galway being disciplined in relation to the care of Savita Halappanavar.

Watch in full here.

Hospital staff in Savita Halappanavar case ‘disciplined’ after review (Paul Cullen, Irish Times)

Previously: When Dr Boylan Met Dr Kiely

9031880490318811903188139031880790318817The launch of Kitty Holland’s  book ‘Savita – The Tragedy That Shook A Nation‘ at Dubray Books, Grafton Street, Dublin last night.

Kitty, the daughter of the late journalist Mary Holland and Eamonn McCann, broke the story of the death of Savita Halappanavar just over a year ago in the Irish Times.

From top: (l-r) Mary O’Rourke, Kitty Holland, Kitty’s daughter Rosie and Eamonn McCann; Eamonn McCann, Mannix Flynn and Vincent Browne; Mary O’Rourke and Vincent Browne; Eamonn McCann and Nell McCafferty and Kitty Holland.

(Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland)


Andaneppa Yalagi, father of Savita Halappanavar, an Indian dentist who died in Ireland a year ago after being denied abortion, attributed credit to the media for the movement against the anti-abortion law that took place in Ireland and rest of the world.

He was speaking at a function to mark the first death anniversary of Savita Halappanavar, organized at the Prajapita Brahmakumaris’ Centre in Mahantesh Nagar . Andaneppa lauded Kitty Holland, a senior journalist with the Irish Times, who broke the news of Savita’s death.

He showed the book, ‘Savita – The Tragedy That Shook The Nation’, to the audience, written by Kitty Holland, which he received from the writer a week ago. He said the 300-page book has covered all major developments that took place after Savita’s death. “It highlights the complexities of the judiciary, church, parliament as well as the action and inaction by the citizens of Ireland,” he said.


Religious restrictions killed my daughter: Savita’s dad (Times of India)

9031871290318716903187159031870690318720A candlelit vigil outside St Stephen’s Green, Dublin this evening to mark the first anniversary of the death of Savita Halappanvar. Vigils are being held in various parts of the country.

Participants included Patrick Bowe (pic 2) and Hope Calloway.(pic 5).

(Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland)

9/4/2013 Inquests into the death of Savita Halappanavar

(Consultant Obstetrician Dr Katherine Astbury who treated Savita Halappanavar, at Galway courthouse during Savita’s inquest in April)

The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) report into the death of Savita Halappanavar released today found:

Of the care provided [to Savita] there was a:

General lack of provision of basic, fundamental care, for example, not following up on blood tests as identified in the case of Savita Halappanavar

Failure to recognise that Savita Halappanavar was at risk of clinical deterioration

failure to act or escalate concerns to an appropriately qualified clinician when Savita Halappanavar was showing the signs of clinical deterioration.

The consultant, non-consultant hospital doctors (NCHDs) and midwifery/nursing staff were responsible and accountable for ensuring that Savita Halappanavar received the right care at the right time. However, this did not happen. The most senior clinical decision maker involved in the provision of care to Savita Halappanavar at any given time should have been suitably clinically experienced and competent to interpret clinical findings and act accordingly. Ultimate clinical accountability rested with the consultant obstetrician who was leading Savita Halappanavar’s care.

Dr Astbury is the doctor, who according to Praveen Halappanavar, refused to terminate Savita’s pregnancy telling her “this is a Catholic country“.

During the inquest it was reported:

Mr Halappanavar accused consultant obstetrician Katherine Astbury of dismissing three separate requests for a termination because the foetus was alive.

“The consultant, Dr Astbury, came in,” he told Galway coroner’s court about the third request.

“Savita asked her ’can you terminate the baby?’

“Dr Astbury said ’unfortunately I cannot. This is a Catholic country, we are bound by the law. We can’t terminate because the foetus is still alive’.”

“Mr Halappanavar said his wife, who was 17 weeks pregnant, cried and told the doctor she was Hindu and not an Irish citizen.”

“Dr Astbury said ’sorry’ and she walked away,” Mr Halappanavar added.”

“The widower claimed a midwife also told his wife and her friend she could not have a termination because of the ‘Catholic thing’ after calling the consultant.”

“Barristers for the hospital and the medic told Galway coroner, Dr Ciaran MacLoughlin, that the consultant denies the allegations and disputes she ever made reference to the words ‘Catholic country’.”

Investigation into the safety, quality and standards of services provided by the Health Service Executive in University Hospital Galway,
and as reflected in the care and treatment provided to Savita Halappanavar – Executive Summary and Recommendations (HIQA)

HIQA report on Savita Halappanavar case finds ‘basic care’ failures (RTE)

Consultant accused of refusing Savita demands on ‘Catholic country’ grounds (Breaking News, April, 2013)

Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

90304147(From left: Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, Dr Philip Crowley and Dr Patrick Nash at today’s publication of the HSE report into the death of Savita Halappanavar)


Professor Sabaratnam Arulkumaran [who chaired the  review team] believes legislative factors affected medical considerations in the case….and  said this resulted in a failure to offer all options to the patient.
Prof Arulkumaran said that if it was his case, he would have terminated the pregnancy.
He said it is possible she [Savita] would still be alive today had her treatment been different.


At the launch of  ‘The Final Report of the HSE investigation of Incident 50278 from the time of the patient’s self referral to hospital on 21st of October 2012 to the patients death on the 28th October 2012’


Praveen Halappanavar’s solicitor has said there is a strong likelihood that his client will take legal action in an effort to ascertain exactly why his wife died.

Gerard O’Donnell said the HSE clinical review went some way towards answering that question but that a number of issues were still outstanding.

He said there is still no clarity on why there was no medical intervention on the Monday or Tuesday that Savita Halappanavar was in Galway University Hospital.


Praveen Halappanavar likely to take legal action on ‘outstanding’ issues (RTE)

(Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland)


90304121The HSE Savita report.

Which finds

When Mrs Halappanavar and her husband Praveen inquired about the possibility of having a termination of pregnancy, this was not offered or considered possible by the clinical team until the afternoon of 24 October, due to their assessment of the legal context in which their clinical professional judgement was to be exercised.

From the time of her admission, up to the morning of 24 October, the clinical management plan for the patient centred on the approach to “await events” and to monitor the foetal heart in case an accelerated delivery might be possible, once the foetal heart stopped.

The report says that awaiting events is clinically appropriate – provided it is not a risk to the mother or the foetus.

It concludes that proper monitoring and evaluation of the changing clinical presentation along with investigations would likely have lead to reconsideration of the need to expedite delivery.

Delaying adequate treatment, including expediting delivery in such situations, can be fatal.

Gravity Of Savita Case Not Recognised (RTE)

Report here

(Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland)

00138755Too late.

Dr Peter Boylan responds to the eleven members of Opus Dei consultants that attacked his credibility yesterday.

The signatories then go on to assert their certainty that termination of pregnancy can be performed “where ruptured membranes are accompanied by any clinical or bio-chemical marker of infection”. This is a truly astonishing statement. It implies that an elevated white blood cell count, which is a non-specific marker of inflammation, on its own would justify a termination of pregnancy. Such an opinion would not surprisingly be welcomed by those advocating a complete liberalisation of the abortion law in Ireland because, if adopted, would truly “open the floodgates”. I suspect that many of our colleagues in active clinical practice would not subscribe to this view.


Irish Times letters

Previously: Toxic Culture

Peter Boylan And Breda O’Brien: The Transcript

(Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland)