The inquiry into Savita Halappanavar’s death could lead to a broader investigation into the care of pregnant women in Ireland if it found that other women in similar situations faced ``serious risks’’ to their health.
The move came as the Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny made clear that his government was not planning a ``liberal’’ abortion regime but simply intended to give clarity to the existing law on providing abortion in cases where the mother’s life was at risk.
“I think this is a case of being clear about the introduction of rules here that give clarity and legal certainty, and restriction on the other hand on what is a very liberal regime without any terms and conditions applied,” he said.
His remarks were seen as assuring pro-life MPs that proposed reforms could lead to ``abortion on demand’’.
Savita died after doctors at a government hospital refused her repeated requests for abortion citing Ireland’s strict anti-abortion law.
The Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa), which is investigating her death, said that it would look into “the safety, quality and standards of services’’ provided to patients, including pregnant women ``at risk of clinical deterioration and as reflected in the care and treatment provided to Savita Halappanavar’’.
“If in the course of the investigation it becomes apparent that there are reasonable grounds to believe that there are further or other serious risks to the health or welfare of any person receiving similar services, the investigation team may recommend to the authority and/or the Minister for Health that these terms be extended to include further investigation or that a new investigation be undertaken, as appropriate,” it said, according to The Irish Times which broke the story of Savita’s death and is campaigning for liberalizing the country’s abortion law.
Savita’s husband, Praveen Halappanavar, is insisting on an independent inquiry into her death saying he has no faith in the two official inquiries –one set up by Ireland’s Health Service Executive (HSE) and the other by Hiqa, the health standards watchdog. He has decided to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights to press his demand.