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Indian mother-to-be dies after being refused abortion at Irish Hospital

A hospital in Ireland is to investigate the death of an Indian woman who died after being denied an abortion, even though the pregnancy was putting her life at risk.

Savita Halappanavar, 31, was 17 weeks pregnant when she was taken to hospital with severe back pain in October. 

Her relatives say she was miscarrying but was refused an abortion at the University Hospital Galway because there was a foetal heartbeat.

Mrs Halappanavar, a dentist, died of septicaemia on 28 October, a week after she was first admitted.

Her husband, Praveen, told the Irish Times that medical staff said his wife could not have an abortion because Ireland was a Catholic country and the foetus was still alive.

Mr Halappanavar, an engineer at Boston Scientific in Galway, said: “Savita was really in agony. She was very upset, but she accepted she was losing the baby.

“When the consultant came on the ward rounds on Monday morning, Savita asked if they could not save the baby could they induce to end the pregnancy.

“The consultant said, ‘As long as there is a foetal heartbeat we can’t do anything’.”

Abortion is illegal in the Republic of Ireland except when a mother’s life is at risk. 

University Hospital Galway and the Health Service Executive are to launch separate investigations into Mrs Halappanavar’s death.

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