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Woman 'Refused' Abortion In Ireland Dies

Investigations have been launched after a pregnant woman died in hospital in Ireland after allegedly being refused an abortion.

Savita Halappanavar, 31, suffered a miscarriage and septicaemia. Her husband Praveen claims doctors refused to carry out a termination for religious reasons.

Mrs Halappanavar, who was from India, was 17 weeks pregnant when admitted to Galway University Hospital.

She was suffering from agonising pain and, according to her husband, made several requests for an abortion.

Mr Halappanavar, 34, said doctors had refused to terminate the pregnancy because there was a foetal heartbeat and told his wife: "This is a Catholic country."

The young woman, who had been practising as a dentist in the Republic of Ireland for some time, died on October 28 after developing septicaemia - an infection in the blood.

Her death is expected to spark a backlash against the Irish government, criticised by left-wing members of parliament for failing to introduce new laws to permit abortion in life-threatening circumstances.

Clare Daly, a Socialist Party member of parliament, said: "A woman has died because Galway University Hospital refused to perform an abortion needed to prevent serious risk to her life.

"We were told this situation would never arise. An unviable foetus - she was having a miscarriage - was given priority over the woman, who unfortunately and predictably, developed septicaemia and died."

Galway Roscommon University Hospitals Group and the state's health officials have launched an investigation.

The family will be interviewed as part of that review and results are expected within three months.

The Galway hospital said doctors have carried out all standard practices in notifying the death to the coroner, informing the Health Service Executive and completing a maternal death notification.

"It is standard practice to review unexpected deaths in line with the HSE's national incident management policy," it said.

"The family of the deceased is consulted on the terms of reference, interviewed by the review team and given a copy of the final report."

A spokesman added: "The Galway Roscommon University Hospitals Group wishes to extend its sympathy to the husband, family and friends of Ms Halappanavar."

The Department of Health also expressed its condolences but said it would wait for the two investigations to be completed before commenting further.

Abortion remains illegal in the Republic unless it occurs as the result of medical intervention to save the mother's life.

There is, however, no agreed method for determining such circumstances.

Abortion is legal in Northern Ireland but only if there is an immediate threat to the mother's life or a long-term threat to her physical or mental health.

The first private abortion clinic on the island opened in Belfast last month.