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HindustanTimes Sat,02 Aug 2014

Ireland to order statutory inquiry into Savita's death

PTI  Bangalore, November 23, 2012
First Published: 18:22 IST(23/11/2012) | Last Updated: 19:48 IST(23/11/2012)

Ireland will also order a statutory inquiry, in addition to the medical one, into the death of Indian dentist Savita Halappanavar due to pregnancy-related complications after being denied abortion, in a move seen as an attempt to meet her husband's demand for a full public probe.

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"... But we will also be setting up a statutory inquiry which will again, we hope, Praveen (Savita's husband) will be happy with," Ireland's minister for higher education and skills, Ciaran Cannon TD, who was on a visit to the city, told reporters.

"We trust that he will trust the outcome of the (statutory) inquiry... will trust the Irish State intentions in establishing such an inquiry. We want him to be able to trust us that we will respond effectively in a really meaningful way to the tragic loss of life (of Savita)," Cannon said.

He said an announcement on the statutory inquiry is expected to be made in Ireland later this evening.

"Medical inquiry will continue because we need to establish medical circumstances around her case," Cannon said.

The health and safety executive (HSE) in Ireland earlier this week published the terms of reference of its inquiry and named three new members, two Irish and one from England, of the inquiry team. These replaced the Galway-based consultants who stepped aside in an unsuccessful attempt to meet the objections of Praveen.

The report to be compiled by the team will not identify staff members involved in the treatment of Savita or any other names, according to the terms of reference.

Praveen has reportedly expressed his lack of confidence in the HSE to carry out any investigation into his wife's death.

"These people are salaried by the HSE," he was quoted as saying. "They pay them. We think that there would be some kind of bias during the investigation."

He said he and his wife were told by medical staff that a termination on medical grounds was not possible as a foetal heartbeat was present and due to Ireland being a 'Catholic country'.

Savita had been 17 weeks pregnant and her husband says she repeatedly asked for a termination but was refused because the foetal heartbeat was present.

Cannon also said, "What we need to do now in Ireland is finally establish the exact details of how Savita's tragic death came about and ensure that once we have that information, that will be able to bring clarity to medical practitioners as to how exactly they should operate in an instance or a case like this (Savita's)."  

Asked if Dublin would amend laws so that such deaths don't happen, he said the government is yet to examine details of a report submitted 'just a number of days ago' by an experts' group, set up nine months ago, to recommend options to bring clarity to medical practitioners that 'life of a mother is primary over any other considerations when you are caring for a mother and unborn baby in a hospital'.

Once the government examines the details, it would move quickly to bring the clarity required in such circumstances to ensure that "something as tragic as Savita's death never ever occurs in the Irish system again", Cannon said.

"... I assure you that by this time next year the clarity that is required to ensure that this situation never arises again will be most certainly be in place," he added.


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