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Abortion: Midwife in Savita Halappanavar case apologises at inquest

The inquest into the death of a 31-year-old dentist in Galway last year from obstetric complications has heard that a midwife has apologised for her explanation of why an abortion was not possible, reports Sky News.

Savita Halappanavar had come to University Hospital Galway in October of last year complaining of abdominal pain, 17 weeks into her pregnancy.

Despite being in considerable pain, and requesting a termination, she was denied what could have been life-saving treatment because Ireland's abortion laws do not permit the early delivery of a foetus with a heartbeat when there was no obvious risk to the mother's life.

Mrs Halappanavar later delivered a dead baby, but at this stage had contracted E. Coli septicaemia and died in intensive care on 28 October 2012 from a heart attack induced by the rampant infection.

The inquest has heard midwife Ann Maria Burke apologise for comments she made to Mrs Halappanavar in the days leading up to her death, when she had requested a termination. Ms Burke admitted telling Mrs Halappanavar that she could not have the abortion as it was 'a Catholic thing'.

"I didn't mention it in a hurtful context. It was in a conversation we had. I'm sorry that I said it," she told the inquest.

The consultant obstetrician looking after Mrs Halappanavar has admitted system failures in the care she was offered, but denied making similar remarks about Catholicism to Mrs Halappanavar and her husband Praveen.

The senior doctor told the inquest that abortion laws in Ireland do not help doctors dealing with pregnant women who become ill.

"In this country it is not legal to terminate a pregnancy on grounds of poor prognosis of the foetus," she told the inquest.

"If you need to give somebody medication to deliver and there's a foetal heartbeat, my understanding is that legally you are considered to be terminating," she added.

The inquest has heard how Mrs Halappanavar's vital signs were not checked every four hours, in breach of hospital policy, and that remarks made by a more junior doctor that Mrs Halappanavar was suffering from serious infection were not passed on to the consultant.

The inquest into the matter is continuing.


Savita Abortion Death: Midwife Says 'Sorry' (Sky News)