Widowed husband to campaign for abortion law change in Ireland

Special Correspondent
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No other woman should die because of a religious law: Praveen Halappanavar

COPING WITH TRAGEDY: Savita and Praveen on their wedding day with her parents and brothers.
COPING WITH TRAGEDY: Savita and Praveen on their wedding day with her parents and brothers.

There is heartbreak but no vengeance. The Halappanavar and Yalgi families are still mourning the death of Savita, wife of Praveen Halappanavar.

The 31-year-old dentist’s death, of septicaemia, at University Hospital Galway in Ireland on October 28 made international headlines because the Catholic country does not allow abortion.

But back home in Belgaum, the family is not contemplating legal action against the hospital.

Keeping up pressure

“I’m returning to Galway and will continue to keep up the pressure on the Irish government with the support of social groups there to modify the law so that no other woman dies because of a religious law,” Mr. Halappanavar said here on Thursday. The Indian government will also be pressured to prevail upon the Irish government to amend the law to legitimise termination of pregnancy if the mother’s life is at risk. Doctors at the hospital had declined to terminate the pregnancy even though Savita was miscarrying and the foetus could not be saved, stating that “this is a Catholic country”. They insisted the foetus still had a heartbeat.

“I repeatedly requested them to terminate the pregnancy and save my wife as there was no chance of saving the foetus. The doctors, till the last moment, maintained that everything was fine till she was taken back to the ICU. They then said the foetus had been removed and she was critically ill; thereafter things never improved.”

Savita (31), a dentist, daughter of Akkamahadevi and Andenappa S. Yalgi, retired Executive Engineer, Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation Ltd., married Mr. Halappanavar, an engineer from Haveri, in April 2008.

On October 21 this year, Savita, 17 weeks pregnant, was hospitalised with severe backache, where doctors told her she was miscarrying. Two days later, her parents, who were with them for three months, had to return as their visa was about to expire. In less than a week, she died a painful death.

No help

Mr. Halappanavar was critical of the Indian Embassy in Ireland which did not come to his help after Savita’s death saying Monday was a government holiday.

Her body was brought to Belgaum on November 3 where the last rites were performed.

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