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Dublin: 13 °C Tuesday 29 July, 2014

Praveen Halappanavar receiving ‘abusive letters from campaigners’

Meanwhile, Savita Halappanavar’s family have taken legal proceedings against the HSE for alleged negligence.

Image: Niall Carson/PA Wire/Press Association Images

THE HUSBAND OF the late Savita Halappanavar has revealed that he receives ‘hurtful and abusive letters’ from people he describes as “campaigners”.

Speaking to Miriam O’Callaghan on today’s John Murray Show, Praveen Halappanavar recalled how he has been told to “leave the country”, “clean the mess” in his native India and to “mind his own business”.

The bereaved husband was giving his first media interview since the HSE’s report into the death of his 31-year-old wife last October was published last month.

He confirmed the case will be taken to the European Court of Human Rights and that Savita’s family has decided to take legal action against the HSE for alleged negligence.

Praveen denied that the decision was motivated by money. “That is not true,” he told the RTÉ presenter when the claim was put to him. “Basically, we tried to push for a public inquiry but that never happened so we see this as the only option open to us at the minute.”

He also acknowledged that a separate court case would be difficult but that Savita’s parents “have every right to know the truth”.

The 31-year-old dentist died on 28 October 2012, days after being admitted to Galway University Hospital. She was 17 weeks pregnant but was suffering a miscarriage. On requesting a termination, she was told it would not be possible as there was still a foetal heartbeat and, therefore, not permissible under current Irish law.

An inquest earlier this year found that there was medical misadventure relating to the management of the patient’s treatment ahead of her death. Although the family welcomed the coroner’s verdict, it has been highly critical of the HSE report, describing it as a whitewash.

“There is nothing new compared to the outcome of the inquest,” explained Praveen. “I guess, if they had gone further deep to see, to get to the bottom of the truth, it would be more helpful.”

He was also upset at the anonymous nature of the report, as well as the timing and lack of notice given to him about the publication.

I was away from home…We received an email the night before. It was very stressful. The media was haunting…I was planning to spend some peaceful time with family but unfortunately had to change plans.

The Galway resident says he will continue in his pursuit of the truth to ensure that no other woman suffers the same fate as Savita.

Abortion Debate

Despite his single-mindedness to have all of his questions about his wife’s death answered, Praveen says he has no interest in the current abortion debate in Ireland.

“All I can say, I have never been for the abortion thing. I never advocated or participated in abortion debate. We don’t follow that…We just want to get to the bottom of the truth…And [make sure] no woman goes through the pain Savita went through or a family goes through the circumstances we had to face.”

Praveen and his solicitor Gerard O’Donnell are due to meet the Minister for Health James Reilly next week to put their concerns about the HSE report to him.

It is understood they will continue to push for a public inquiry.

“We can cross-examine the witness, whereas in the inquest we had to obey the boundaries of the coroner’s inquest. We can go a step further and ask a question, why?” explained Halappanavar, who also noted his frustration that a number of midwives failed to appear as witnesses in the Coroner’s Court for the inquest.

He believes more information about how she was treated can come out.

“What happened? Why did they not treat her the way she should have been?” he continues to ask. “I have seen it all and I was always kept in the dark. I could feel that something was going wrong but never thought it was this serious…that I would lose her.

“It just happened…so it can happen again. Women who will not get the publicity or limelight we got. I am really concerned. The whole family doesn’t want any woman to go through want Savita went through. That is our motivation at the moment.”

Praveen told O’Callaghan that he has “just started realising” that his wife is no longer with him. “I can’t put it in words…it is terribly, terribly tough.”

Yesterday: TDs vote against extending abortion bill to include inevitable miscarriages

Galway hospital board chairman apologises to Praveen Halappanavar for Savita’s death

Head of Savita review says greater clarity on terminations urgently needed

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