Sunday 18 February 2018

How many more must die, asks Savita's dad

Savita with her parents on the day she graduated as a dentist in Belgaum, India.
Savita with her parents on the day she graduated as a dentist in Belgaum, India.
Breda Heffernan

Breda Heffernan

THE grief-stricken father of Savita Halappanavar has asked how many women must die before Irish abortion law is changed.

Speaking to the Irish Independent from his home in Belgaum in southern India, Andanappa Yalagi welcomed the fact that the Irish Government was tackling the contentious issue of abortion but said the proposed legislation did not go far enough to protect women.

He believes that even if the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill becomes law, women in Ireland could still die like his daughter.

Despite being in the process of miscarrying, Savita was not granted an abortion when she first requested it, as there was still a foetal heartbeat and her life was not thought to be in immediate danger.

"I welcome the legislation. That was our one demand – that the rules should be changed. They are willing to legislate and change the rules, but that is not changing how my daughter died," said Mr Yalagi.

"If they won't change the law, then how many Savitas do they want? How many lives (do they) want to lose?," he asked.

Mr Yalagi said that had successive Irish governments legislated for the Supreme Court ruling in the X Case more than two decades earlier, "my own daughter would be alive".

Savita died at Galway University Hospital on October 28 last year. The 31-year-old dentist was 17 weeks' pregnant when she was admitted to the hospital a week earlier suffering a miscarriage and later developed sepsis.


Mr Yalagi was scathing of the HSE report into Savita's death published earlier this month, saying no one has taken responsibility for his daughter's death.

"The report is only about the clinical side and what to do in the future. What about how my daughter died and abortion law? It is clear from all the reports that no one is taking responsibility," he said.

He and his wife Akamahadevi still want a full independent inquiry into their daughter's death, which they believe was the result of Catholic opposition to abortion.

Mr Yalagi said they would like to meet the Government to discuss the family's concerns.

He praised the testimony of midwife Ann Maria Burke, who revealed at the inquest into Savita's death in April that she was the hospital staff member who told Savita that abortion was not possible because Ireland was a "Catholic country". He said Ms Burke told the truth.

Mr Yalagi said the family in India were getting regular updates on what was happening in Ireland from their son-in-law, Praveen, and were considering which further legal steps they could take.

Irish Independent

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