15 nov 2012
Indian govt has not contacted me, says husband of woman denied abortion
New Delhi: India said it was “concerned” with and “deeply regretted” the death of Savita Halappanavar in Ireland after being denied an abortion in a hospital, though the victim’s husband told NDTV that no one from the Indian embassy had got in touch with him or his family. Ireland too has committed to a thorough investigation into the death.
The governments’ official statements came as outrage and protests built in India and abroad. Angry tweets and bloggers questioned Ireland’s practice to disallow abortion because it is a Catholic country, except when the mother’s life was in danger. Ms Halappanavar’s grieving mother said in Belgaum, Karnataka, that rules had to followed, “but that rule must have some humanity”.
“We deeply regret the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar. The death of an Indian national in such circumstances is a matter of concern,” foreign ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin told a news conference. “We understand that the Irish authorities have initiated two inquiries (and) we are awaiting the results of these inquiries and we will take it from there,” he said. The victim’s husband Praveen though told NDTV that no one from the external affairs ministry or the embassy has as yet got in touch with him or the family. He said that they will “keep up the pressure to get justice”.
Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny described the death of the 31-year-old dentist as a “tragedy”. The Irish embassy in New Delhi has also assured that it was “at the highest level” committed to investigate the death and has ordered an inquiry. Authorities at the hospital too have assured the family that a full probe shall take place.
A Mahadevi, Halappanavar’s mother, said that in trying to save a 4-month-old foetus doctors killed her 31-year-old daughter. “They have to change the rules for us, we are Hindus, not Christians,” the distraught mother said. “People there will fight for us, but someone here has to support them.”
Halappanavar had repeatedly asked staff at the hospital to terminate her pregnancy because she had severe back pain and was miscarrying, her family said, but was declined because medical personnel said they could hear the foetal heartbeat. Doctors allegedly refused her demand, telling her that “this is a Catholic country”. She died of septicaemia, or blood poisoning, after suffering from a miscarriage.
The hospital said it would begin a review of her death as soon as it could consult with her family, who are in India for her funeral.
Ireland’s abortion laws have been the subject of debate for years.
Under a 1992 Supreme Court ruling, women in Ireland are legally entitled to an abortion when it is necessary to save the life of the mother. But legislation has never been passed to reflect this.
A 1982 referendum acknowledged the “right to life of the unborn… with due regard to the life of the other”, while a second in 1992 added an amendment that permitted the right to travel abroad for an abortion.