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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 1592

Death of Indian woman after denial of abortion---Irish envoy summoned

From R. Vasudevan—Reporting from New Delhi
New Delhi, 17 November (

Mounting public outrage over the death of an Indian woman after being refused an abortion by doctors in Ireland compelled the Foreign Office to summon the Irish envoy in New Delhi and put across the "concern and angst in Indian society about the untimely and tragic death."Indian_woman.jpg

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid expressed some of the outrage felt in the country by telling newspersons, “Saving the life of the mother is of prime importance, if you can’t save the life of the child.’’ M. Ganapathi, Secretary (West) in the External Affairs ministry summoned Irish Ambassador Feilim McLaughlin on Friday and hoped the inquiry into the incident would be independent.

Earlier in the day, highly placed sources had reposed faith in India’s Dublin mission and felt it was "best we should not rush to conclusions." During his meeting with McLaughlin, Ganapathy said India was unhappy that a young life had come to an untimely end and hoped the Indian Ambassador in Dublin would be regularly updated about the probe’s progress and outcome.

The incident took place late last month but came into limelight nearly three weeks later. Savita Halappanavar arrived with back pain at Galway University Hospital on October 21 and died of septicaemia a week later after doctors in the hospital declined to abort the foetus because Ireland was a "Catholic country."

A Foreign Office release said the Irish envoy assured full cooperation and indicated that the terms of reference for the inquiry would be released shortly. The sources felt that no matter what the enquiry did, human loss cannot be compensated. Therefore, in order to prevent such a situation from occurring again, the Irish would have to reconsider some issues.

"There is some hope for improvement of their internal arrangements and system," they added in reference to Irish deputy Prime Minister Eamon Gilmore telling his country's Parliament that he was "deeply disturbed by what Savita's husband said. I don't think as a country we should allow a situation where women's rights are put at risk in this way."

Meanwhile, the All India Democratic Women’s Association has said that it was dismayed by the refusal of the University Hospital in Galaway, Ireland, to conduct an abortion on 31-year-old Savita Halappanavar, a dentist from India, leading to her death.

AIDWA general secretary Sudha Sundararaman said: “Savita had developed severe back pain in her 17 week of pregnancy and suspecting a miscarriage, sought medical termination of the foetus to save her life. Despite her repeated pleas that she was a Hindu, her request was turned down on the grounds that abortion was illegal in Catholic Ireland.” Stating that it was inexcusable that a life had been lost by the implementation of a grossly unjust and unfair law which denied abortion even when the woman’s life was in imminent danger, Ms. Sundararaman added: “This is in violation of both Indian and international laws. It is sad that despite her condition, the necessary medical attention was denied.” AIDWA has urged the Centre to strongly protest the manner in which Dr. Savita was treated by the medical authorities in Ireland.

- Asian Tribune -

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