Tag Archives: Savita


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


Former Master of Holles Street Hospital in Dublin, Dr Peter Boylan, top, and Breda O’Brien, above, a patron of Iona Institute and Irish Times columnist, were among the guests on RTÉ’s Marian Finucane this morning.

They spoke about the death and subsequent inquest of Savita Halappanavar.

During their discussion, Dr Boylan accused Ms O’Brien of revising history.

Here’s how it unfolded:

Marian Finucane: “Explain how you got involved in the hearings in Galway, last week.”

Dr Peter Boylan: “The coroner wrote to me and asked me would I review the notes and the statements and issue a report to him, so that’s it basically.”

Finucane: “And that was it. And were you there for the whole thing?”

Boylan: “No, I got the transcripts every night but I wasn’t present. I only went down to give my expert evidence on Thursday.”

Finucane: “Right. And your conclusions?”

Boylan: “My conclusions are that if she’d had a termination on the Monday or the Tuesday, she would now be alive. That by the time…”

Finucane: “This is Savita. Just to…”

Boylan: “Yes. By the time a termination became legally realistic prospect, she was becoming seriously ill. And even if they’d started a termination on the morning of the Wednesday that it was too late at that stage. I did identify a number of deficiencies in the care but none of them individually contributed to her death, in my opinion. And, the question of a surgical termination was brought up in some of the media, during the course of discussions since the finish of the inquest. And I don’t want to be graphic about what a surgical termination means at 17 weeks for the live foetus but there’s a very high likelihood that she would have died as a consequence of having had a surgical termination at that stage because…”

Finucane: “On the Monday or the Tuesday?”

Boylan: “No. On the Wednesday.”

Finucane: “No.”

Boylan: “You couldn’t do a termination on the Monday or the Tuesday in this country. It’s just, it was not legal.”

Finucane: “Yeah, I must have misheard, I thought I heard people, on both sides, saying that if a miscarriage was inevitable that then there would…”

Boylan: “The clinical circumstances in which she was, with ruptured membranes at 17 weeks, the chances of survival for that baby were absolutely very small, less than 10%. There are incidences however, well-recognised in this country and internationally where babies in those circumstances can survive. They get to 34 weeks maybe or even later…”

Finucane: “34? Yeah but she was 17?”

Boylan: “She was 17. Yes but a pregnancy, even with ruptured membranes, can continue. It’s highly unlikely. It’s not inevitable that she would have a miscarriage. Now what would have happened in another country is that on the ward round, when she ruptured her membranes, the dismal outlook for the baby would have been discussed with her. And her input into the management, and her husband’s input into the management, would have been taken into account. We can’t do that here. And what would have happened is she would have said one of two things. One: ‘I’d like this pregnancy to continue as long as possible as I dearly want a baby and we want to do everything possible’. That might be say in the circumstances where the mother is in her late 30s/40s, it’s an IVF pregnancy and so on. Not very much different. Or she might, she could said ‘Look no, the outlook is so dismal, I’d like just to have, get this pregnancy over with, in other words terminate it, and then move on and perhaps get pregnant again soon. Her wishes would have been taken into account in any other country. Now what would have happened then is that they would have said to her ‘Look, have a think about this because these are very big decisions.”

Finucane: “Sure are.”

Boylan: “And they would have come back to her the next day, or later the same day, or they might be absolutely certain what they wanted to do. And then, whatever it is that they wished would be undertaken. In any other country.”

Finucane: “Again, just listening to the, to the evidence, I presume every person operates to the guidelines, you know, according to the law.”

Boylan: “We have to.”

Finucane: “Yeah, yes, yeah. But the notion of percentages.”

Boylan: “Yes.”

Finucane: “Of, will you die, won’t you die…”

Boylan: “Yes.”

Finucane: “Does that happen? A lot?”

Boylan: “No. And we cannot, as doctors, be expected to do our ward rounds with a calculator in one hand and the law in another hand. We have to be given the liberty to do what we feel is best for a patient and in this…These circumstances are the only circumstances in obstetric care where a woman’s wishes are not taken into account. Where she has no input into her care. Now if you think of any other sort of situation like that you end up talking about the Taliban. Where else are women denied an input into their care? In what other clinical situation? I can’t identify any. Women are very much involved in their care in obstetrics, in decisions to induce labour, decisions about Caesarian sections, decisions about all sorts of things. And that’s how it should be. But in this circumstances, they are not allowed. And that’s the law.”

Finucane: “Breda, how did, how did we end up here?”

Breda O’Brien: “I’m really alarmed at a couple of things that Peter has said. First of all that the law would not have allowed intervention on Monday because John Bonner, who would be universally acknowledged to be deeply conservative on this, said he would have gone, he would have been in there like a light.”

Boylan: “That’s incorrect.”

O’Brien: “Em. He’s not present to..what he..this is..”

Boylan: “I was on Prime Time with him there last night I think it was…”

O’Brien: “What he said was…”

Boylan: “Friday night. And that’s not correct what he said. He said he would wait until she was ill and then he would have no hesitation in intervening.”

O’Brien: “Can I clarify, Peter?”

Boylan: “He was very clear about that because I picked him up on that.”

O’Brien: “Can I clarify, Peter? When I said he would have been in like a light I was talking about in terms of the care. The care is the crucial issue here.  I spoke to three obstetricians over the week, two in person and one by email to clarify this point.”

Finucane: “I should clarify that you yourself are a patron of Iona, just for the record.”

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Savita Halappanavar’s consultant acknowledges systems failures in her treatment (Paul Cullen, Irish Times)

(Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland)




Some background:

The seven-member HSE internal inquiry team was led by Prof Sabraratnam Arulkumaran, head of obstetrics and gynaecology at St George’s University of London.

Three members of the original inquiry team were from Galway University Hospital, with the final three being an employee from Cork University Hospital,a patient advocate and a representative from the HSE National Incident Management Team.

After Savita’s husband Praveen Halappavanar complained about the presence of three employees from the Galway hospital, the HSE replaced them.

The three were replaced with Professor James Walker, of St James Hospital in Leeds, Dr Brian Marsh, of the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital and Professor Mary Horgan, of Cork University Hospital.



Midwife says internal investigation added entries to Savita Halappanavar’s medical notes (RTÉ)




Abortion refusal death: coroner asks for midwife to be identified (The Guardian)


RTÉ reports:

“The report was given to Gerard O’Donnell this morning by Tony Canavan, the chief operating officer of the HSE’s Galway-Roscommon Hospital Group. Praveen Halappanavar was not present as he has declined the HSE’s request to receive the report personally from the executive’s representative. Mr Halappanavar and his solicitor will review the report and decide if they wish to make any observations on it to the HSE review ream, before the final report is published.”

Husband receives Savita Halappanavar draft report from the HSE (RTÉ)

(Asia Press)