Public probe sought in death of Indian woman in Ireland

London, Nov 15 (IANS) An independent public inquiry must be conducted into the death of Savita Halappanavar, who collapsed after doctors in an Ireland hospital refused to abort her foetus on grounds that "this is a Catholic country", demanded a friend of the family.

The death of Savita Halappanavar must be the subject of an independent public inquiry, said C.V.R. Prasad, a surgeon who is a close friend of 31-year-old Savita and her husband Praveen.

Prasad, an orthopaedic surgeon at the Merlin Park Hospital in Galway, said such an inquiry must be taken out of the hands of the Health Service Executive (HSE) or University Hospital Galway, Irish Times reported Thursday.

Halappanavar arrived Oct 21 with back pain at Galway University Hospital where she was found to be miscarrying at 17 weeks. She died of septicaemia Oct 28.

Her death has sparked outrage in India.

Prasad, who visited Savita in hospital before she died, said: "Any inquiry should be public. That is the way it should be, it should not be conducted by the HSE or the hospital. It should be independent. I hope that might save the life of another women. This should never happen to another woman. Religion and medicine should never mix."

Savita's husband Pravin, an engineer at Boston Scientific in Galway, described how she asked several times over a three-day period that the pregnancy be terminated. She was in terrible pain and was miscarrying.

He said the request was refused by medical staff who said they could not do anything because there was still a foetal heartbeat. He said they were told that this was the law and that "this is a Catholic country".

He was quoted as saying that she spent over three days "in agony" until the foetal heartbeat stopped.

The dead foetus was removed, but Savita's condition deteriorated and she died.

The HSE said that an independent external expert in obstetrics and gynaecology would be appointed to strengthen the incident management team it has asked to investigate the circumstances of the death.

The team would liaise with Pravin.

"The process of incident review seeks to ascertain the facts relating to the incident, draw conclusions and make recommendations in relation to any steps that may need to be taken to prevent a similar incident occurring again."

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