Woman Dies in UCHG after Being Denied a Life-Saving Abortion

On Sunday the 28th of October, Savita Praveen died at UCHG after being denied a termination which would most likely have saved her life. She was 31 years old, married for four years and hoping to start a family.
If legislation is not introduced immediately, more women will die. Under the X Case ruling, women in Ireland are legally entitled to an abortion when it is necessary to save their life. However, legislation has never been passed to reflect this. It is the failure of successive governments to do so that led to Savita’s death.

Savita was first admitted to the hospital on October 21st complaining of severe back pain. Her doctor initially told her that she would be fine, but she refused to go home. It became clear that her waters had broken, and she was having a miscarriage (spontaneous abortion). She was told that the foetus had no chance of survival, and it would all be over within a few hours.

However, her condition did not take its expected course, and the foetus remained inside her body. Although it was evident that it could not survive, a foetal heartbeat was detected. For this reason her repeated requests to remove the foetus were denied. By Tuesday it was clear that her condition was deteriorating. She had developed a fever, and collapsed when attempting to walk. The cervix had now been fully open for nearly 72 hours, creating a danger of infection comparable to an untreated open head wound. She developed septicaemia.

Despite this, the foetus was not removed until Wednesday afternoon, after the foetal heartbeat had stopped. Immediately after the procedure she was taken to the high dependency unit. Her condition never improved. She died at 1.09am on Sunday the 28th of October.

Had the foetus been removed when it became clear that it could not survive, her cervix would have been closed and her chance of infection dramatically reduced. Leaving a woman’s cervix open constitutes a clear risk to her life. What is unclear is how doctors are expected to act in this situation.
Rachel Donnelly, Galway Pro-Choice spokesperson stated:

“This was an obstetric emergency which should have been dealt with in a routine manner. Yet Irish doctors are restrained from making obvious medical decisions by a fear of potentially severe consequences. As the European Court of Human Rights ruled, as long as the 1861 Act remains in place, alongside a complete political unwillingness to touch the issue, pregnant women will continue to be unsafe in this country.”

Sarah McCarthy, Galway Pro-Choice member said:

“Galway Pro-Choice believes that Ireland must legislate for freely available abortion for all women. Deaths like Savita’s are the most severe consequence of the criminalisation of abortion, yet it has countless adverse effects. We must reflect long and hard on the implications of Savita’s tragic and untimely passing, and we must act to ensure that such a tragedy never happens again.”

For more information please contact Galway Pro-Choice on 087 706 0715 or Sarah McCarthy on 085 7477 907

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