London protest over Irish woman who died after being denied abortion

By Ian Dunt

Pro-choice campaigners were organising a protest outside the Irish embassy in London today, after a woman in Galway died following a refusal to give her an abortion.

Savita Halappanavar died of septicaemia a week after going to the hospital with back pains and being found to have had a miscarriage.

Demonstrators will gather outside the Irish embassy in Grosvenor Square at 18:00GMT this evening to support the Irish pro-choice movement.

The case is likely to worsen already tense relations with the European court of human rights, which ruled in 2010 the country had failed to implement laws enabling women to have an abortion if their life was in danger.

Halappanavar's husband said his wife asked for a medical termination several times in between the hospital appointment and her death but she was denied because a foetal heartbeat was still present.

The couple were even told "this is a Catholic country" when they asked.

Once the heartbeat stopped medical staff removed the dead foetus, but it was too late for Halappanavar, who died of septicaemia on October 28th.

Ireland's health service executive has launched an investigation, as has the hospital concerned, but the tragedy has sparked an outcry among pro-choice campaigners in Ireland.

No political party likes to go near the abortion issue in Ireland. The country's proximity to the UK allows many women to fly to Britain for a termination. Many campaigners argue the current law is only feasible because of this option.