Coppinger: Govt inaction responsible for 'medieval treatment' of Savita

Ruth Coppinger.

Socialist Party councillor Ruth Coppinger has blasted the "cowardly inaction of successive governments since 1992" for the death of Savita Halappanavar in a Galway hospital after she was refused an abortion.

Savita, a dentist aged 31, was 17 weeks pregnant when she died after suffering a miscarriage and septicaemia.

The woman’s husband Praveen Halappanavar, 34, claimed she had complained of being in agonising pain while in University Hospital Galway.

He has said that doctors refused to carry out a medical termination because the foetus’s heartbeat was present.

The pro-choice activist Ruth Coppinger has urged people to turn out for a protest that has been planned for the front of the Dáil this evening.

Ms Coppinger said: "It was only last Monday that we raised the issue of the need to legislate for the Supreme Court ruling on X at a debate in Fingal County Council. None of us were aware at that stage of the tragic and needless death of Savita Halappanavar who developed septicaemia from E Coli after she was refused a timely termination of an unviable miscarrying 17 week-old foetus.

"Our first thoughts must be for Savita's family and friends and Savita herself who endured two and a half days of agony during which, despite her pleas, she was denied a termination because there remained a foetal heart beat and according to her husband she was told that we 'live in a Catholic country'.

Investigations into Mrs Halappanavar’s death have been launched by the Galway-Roscommon University Hospitals Group and the State’s health officials.

"This medieval state of affairs persists because of the cowardly inaction of successive governments since 1992 as well as the lethal foot-dragging by this government who voted down a United Left Alliance-backed bill that would have saved Savita's life and potentially the lives of other women.

Ms Coppinger has said that the Government must proceed immediately on legislation for the Supreme Court ruling on the X-Case.

She said: "Joe Higgins TD and others will seek a debate today in the Dáil over what has happened.

"However we cannot assume that this needless tragedy will bring the political establishment to their senses. People power pressure from below is what is required. The Socialist Party therefore urges people to turn out in force this evening at 6pm outside the Dáil to demand action on X as a first vital step towards free, safe and legal abortion services in Ireland."

Investigations into Mrs Halappanavar’s death have been launched by the Galway-Roscommon University Hospitals Group and the State’s health officials.

It is expected the hospital’s investigation will be complete within three months.

Mrs Halappanavar’s family will be interviewed as part of the review.

In a statement, the Department of Health offered condolences to the family.

“The department and the ministers extend their sympathies to the family of the patient on their loss,” it said.

“There are currently two investigations under way and the department is awaiting the completion of these investigations before commenting further.”

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