A 31-year-old woman died at a hospital in Galway, Ireland at the end of last month after being denied an abortion. She was admitted to the hospital for severe back pain, but it turned out she was miscarrying, yet doctors refused to abort the fetus. Savita Halappanavar was seventeen weeks pregnant, and developed a life-threatening infection that claimed her life a week later.
Halappanavar's husband, Praveen, says that his wife asked doctors at University Hospital Galway to terminate the fetus on several occasions after learning that it had no chance of survival. A fetal heartbeat remained, so doctors refused to perform the abortion because Ireland is a "Catholic country." Halappanavar, who was Hindu, told them that she was neither Irish nor Catholic, but she was still told that nothing could be done.
Abortions are illegal in Ireland, except (supposedly) when the mother's life is in danger. The fetal heartbeat stopped on the third day, and the fetus was finally removed, but it was too late. An autopsy said the official cause of death was septicemia, also known as blood poisoning.
A spokesperson for the hospital offered his condolences, but would not give any additional details or comment on the investigation currently taking place.