Praveen thanks midwife for honesty in inquest over making 'Catholic' remark

Caroline Crawford

PRAVEEN Halappanavar has forgiven midwife Ann Maria Burke for telling his wife she could not have a termination because it is a "Catholic country".

Mr Halappanavar thanked Ms Burke for her honesty, admitting it had come "out of the blue".

However, the grieving widower stood by his statement to the inquest that consultant obstetrician Dr Katherine Astbury had made similar comments, despite her evidence rejecting his claims.

Mr Halappanavar spoke briefly on his way into the fourth day of the inquest hearing into the death of his 31-year-old wife Savita. When asked if he forgave Ms Burke, he replied: "Yes, I do".

He added that he appreciated Ms Burke's evidence and her admission that she made the comments. "I would like to also thank her for being so honest, I think it came out of the blue," he said.

Mr Halappanavar said he had been surprised by the evidence and pleased by it at the end of the day. He revealed that listening to the detailed evidence had been difficult, despite having read through much of the information prior to the inquest.

"It's very difficult. I've seen it all. The way she was treated was horrendous, so it just gives some comfort that the truth is coming out," he added.

Earlier this week Ms Burke apologised for having made the remarks to Ms Halappanavar and a friend Mrudula Vasealli on Tuesday, October 23, while they were talking about the reason behind the refusal to give her a termination.

She said she had since regretted the remarks, but stressed she had never meant them in "a hurtful context".

During the inquest yesterday, Mr Halappanavar thanked doctors and nurses in the ICU and HDU wards for their efforts to save his wife's life.

The inquest also heard a statement from Savita's friend, Dr Devi Chalikonda, who was present when she died.

Dr Chalikonda had been friends with the Halappanavars since 2009. Praveen had called her when his wife became critically ill, asking if he should move her to a private hospital.

"I explained to Praveen that Savita's condition was critical. He asked should she be transferred to the Galway clinic but I explained the clinic didn't have an obstetrics unit," she said.

Dr Chalikonda visited Savita in the ICU with Praveen. He told her how his wife had started crying in the theatre when she found out she was carrying a baby girl because she had wanted a girl.