An Indian dentist would probably still be alive if the law in Ireland allowed an abortion as she miscarried, an inquest was told.
A leading obstetrician claimed the inability to end Savita Halappanavar's pregnancy until there was a substantial and real risk of her death ultimately cost the 31-year-old her life.
Peter Boylan revealed that by the time she was sick enough to justify an abortion on the morning of Wednesday October 24 last year, she was already suffering from sepsis blood infection.
He said the real problem was the inability to terminate the pregnancy prior to Mrs Halappanavar developing a real and substantial risk to life. "By that time it was, effectively, too late to save her life," he said.
Mrs Halappanavar was 17 weeks pregnant when admitted to University Hospital Galway on October 21 and died a week later from septicaemia and a rare strain of E.coli, four days after she lost her baby.
Mr Boylan, former Master of the National Maternity Hospital in Dublin, described the rules on limited abortion under which doctors are operating in Ireland as a vacuum.
He told the inquest into Mrs Halappanavar's death that had her pregnancy been terminated on the Monday or Tuesday it is "highly likely, on the balance of probabilities, that she would not have died".
"Termination of pregnancy at that time was not a practical proposition because of the law," he said.
"From the early hours of October 24 Mrs Halappanavar developed sepsis, severe sepsis and septic shock in rapid sequence. She developed an overwhelming infection and despite the best efforts of intensive care specialists she unfortunately died."
Mrs Halappanavar's obstetrician Dr Katherine Astbury decided to carry out an abortion on the Wednesday afternoon when told Mrs Halappanavar's condition had deteriorated further. She was brought to theatre to be stabilised, but delivered her dead baby daughter - which she named Prasa - after 4pm that afternoon and fell critically ill.