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Dublin: 13 °C Tuesday 2 September, 2014

Pro-choice group: Savita inquest displays “urgent need for legislative action”

The group said her case highlights that a ‘real and substantial risk to the life’ of a woman can develop within a matter of hours.

Image: Julien Behal/PA Wire

GALWAY PRO-CHOICE has said that the inquest into the death of Savita Halappanavar has displayed the “urgent need for legislative action and compassion” in cases where a pregnant woman’s health is at risk.

The inquest continued today as expert witnesses shed light on the events surrounding her death at Galway University Hospital in October last year.

Her husband, Praveen Halappanavar did not attend proceedings today but has been present at Galway Coroner’s Court all week. Galway Pro-Choice today commended him for his “strength and bravery” throughout the investigative process.

“Despite aggressive cross-examination, Praveen’s account of Savita’s final days has been largely vindicated”, the group said in a statement.

It has been clearly revealed this week that Ireland’s ban on abortion was a leading factor in Savita not receiving the care that she required. Dr Astbury, the consultant managing Savita’s case, confirmed that termination of pregnancy would have been the intended treatment for Savita’s condition. However, she was forced to deal with a ‘balance of probabilities’ – delaying treatment against her patient’s wishes as Savita got progressively more unwell.

The group said her case highlights that a ‘real and substantial risk to the life’ of a woman can develop within a matter of hours and that the law in Ireland does not protect doctors or the women living here.

Rachel Donnelly of Galway Pro-Choice said it has now been made clear that the woman’s obstetrician felt constrained by Irish law from acting to protect her health.

“This situation can no longer continue,” she said. “We must have X Case legislation by the summer, and then we must have a referendum to remove Article 40.3.3 from the Irish Constitution as soon as possible.”

Nearly 70 statements from hospital staff, police and other sources have been gathered for the inquest but not all of their authors will appear as witnesses. The inquest is expected to continue into the middle of next week.

Related: Praveen Halappanavar thanks midwife for honest answers at inquest>

More: Inquest into Savita death enters fourth day>

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