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Ireland to mull over abortion law, India for fair probe

world Updated: Nov 19, 2012 01:24 IST
Dipankar De Sarkar

New Delhi is keeping an eye on the terms of reference to be announced for an inquiry ordered by the Irish authorities into the death of Indian dentist amid a growing global clamour for Ireland to change its Catholic anti-abortion laws.

Halappanavar's father lent his voice to the campaign as India's Ambassador to Ireland, Debashish Chakravarty, met the Irish foreign minister Eamon Gilmore on Saturday.

There are currently two inquiries that are looking into the circumstances in which the pregnant Savita died on October 28 - one by the coroner, assisted by local police, and the other by the government's Health Service Executive. The coroner's inquiry will look into allegations by Savita's husband Praveen Halappanavar, a Galway-based engineer, that when he and Savita repeatedly asked for an abortion, they were told by a hospital staff, "This is a Catholic country."

The second inquiry is being tracked closely by campaigners who want it to be guided by an independent expert, who will not have a political stance over anti-abortion laws.

On top of these two inquiries there is a demand for a third, independent inquiry and it is this that New Delhi appears to be supporting. The wish to see a change in Irish laws is implicit in New Delhi's statement that it hopes there will be no repeat of such deaths for any Indian national.

Meanwhile, Irish media reported that minister for health James Reilly has confirmed he will be bringing the report of the expert group on abortion to cabinet on Tuesday.

"I have read the report and I need to study it further. It's a hugely complex issue that has divided the country ... and we're not going to solve it in a matter of weeks," he said.

Khurshid keeping close tab on case
External affairs minister Salman Khurshid is closely monitoring developments in case, the ministry has conveyed to Savita's husband. A senior MEA official contacted Praveen Halappanavar briefing him of the details of a meeting between the Indian Ambassador to Dublin with Ireland's deputy prime minister and foreign minister Eamon Gilm.