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Thursday 21 September 2023 Dublin: 11°C
# Eighth Amendment
'Don't let what happened to us happen to other families': Savita's parents back Yes vote
Savita Halappanavar died on 28 October 2012 at University Hospital Galway.

SAVITA HALAPPANAVAR’S PARENTS have encouraged people to vote Yes in Friday’s referendum on repealing the Eighth Amendment.

In a video released by Together for Yes, Savita’s father Andanappa Yalagi said a Yes vote would be “paying a great debt to [her] departed soul”.

Addressing his “dear brothers and sisters of Ireland”, he said: “No family in [the] future should have to undergo what we have gone through, the worry and sorrow that’s still persistent in our hearts even after some six years.

“The life that Savita had, she had a very long life to lead but it was cut down mercilessly there.

Savita loved the people of Ireland. Lots of people say that Savita’s death hurt the entire Irish society. I strongly feel that the younger daughters of Ireland should not have the fate of Savita.

“I hope that people in Ireland will remember the fate of our daughter Savita on the day of the referendum and vote Yes so that what happened to us won’t happen to any [other] families. And by doing this you will be paying a great debt to the departed soul. Thanking you very much.”

Investigation into her death

Savita died on 28 October 2012 at University Hospital Galway. She was 17 weeks pregnant. The cause of death was recorded as severe sepsis, E.coli in the bloodstream and a miscarriage at 17 weeks.

The death of the 31-year-old dentist precipitated a huge rallying cry for changes to Irish law in respect of abortion.

Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, Professor Emeritus of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at St George’s University of London, was tasked with overseeing an investigation into her death.

The investigation found three key causal factors in Savita’s death, including:

  • that there was inadequate assessment and monitoring of Savita, and that the clinical team failed to devise and follow a plan of care
  • the failure to offer all management options to Savita
  • a non-adherence to clinical guidelines related to the prompt and effective management of sepsis, severe sepsis and septic shock when it was diagnosed

The investigation was completed on 7 June 2013.

Across 108 pages, it outlined how there was a “lack of recognition of the gravity of the situation and of the increasing risk to the mother which led to passive approaches and delays in aggressive treatment”.

Professor Arulkumaran and his six-person team said this appeared to have been “either due to the way the law was interpreted in dealing with the case or the lack of appreciation of the increasing risk to the mother and the earlier need for delivery of the fetus”.

The law mentioned here refers to Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution (the Eighth Amendment), which equates the unborn’s right to life to that of its mother.

The investigation team “strongly” recommended and advised for the law of the day to be “considered” by the Oireachtas and others, up to and including “any necessary constitutional change”.

With reporting by Sinéad O’Carroll

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