Galway Pro-Choice acknowledges the publication of the final HSE clinical report into the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar and we offer our support to Praveen, his family, Savita’s family and their friends through what has been such a difficult time. We are alarmed that this report has been published in what appears to be a rushed manner. It shows a lack of courtesy to Praveen who is currently out of the country. He requested to see the final report and meet the minister before it was published. However, he was not consulted prior to its release and his lawyer only received notification less than 48 hours before publication.
As expected, this report vindicates what Praveen has maintained all along. It identifies significant medical shortcomings in Savita’s treatment, as well as the dire consequences of the 8th Amendment that equates a woman’s life with that of a foetus. It outlines that not all management options were offered, which her increasing infection warranted. Due to Irish law, she was denied a termination because a foetal heartbeat was still present. Had a termination been granted when she requested it, it would have most likely saved her life according to Dr. Peter Boylan, former master of Holles Street and leading obstetrician who gave expert testimony to the inquest into her death.
This report also outlines how Savita’s condition deteriorated rapidly as indicators were ignored. Monitoring and adherence to guidelines for the management of sepsis were not followed. Once the membranes had ruptured, the chance of infection and sepsis greatly increased. The passive treatment plan to “await events” put Savita’s life in jeopardy and culminated in her death. The report states: “Delaying adequate treatment including expediting delivery in a clinical situation where there is prolonged rupture of the membranes and increasing risk to the mother can, on occasion, be fatal.”
Rachel Donnelly of Galway Pro-Choice said:
“This report highlights how the 8th Amendment to our constitution interferes with medical care in our state with grave consequences. We must repeal the 8th Amendment to protect women’s lives and ensure that doctors can provide all management options and not be bound by law to put a foetal heartbeat before a woman’s life.”
It is also possible that the X-Case legislation (Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013) due to be passed this summer may not have prevented Savita’s death. Her health, as opposed to her life, appeared to be at risk when a termination was first requested. We therefore welcome Sir Sabaratnam Arulkatumara’s comments at the press conference on Thursday. He strongly encouraged the convening of a medical and legal team to examine when a termination can legally be performed when conditions affecting the health of a woman may escalate. As he said: “much later on can be sometimes too late”.