The death of a woman who succumbed to blood poisoning days after being denied an abortion has caused an outcry in Ireland, where abortion is illegal unless the life of the woman is in danger, the Guardian reports. Savtia Halappanavar, a 31-year-old dentist, was 17 weeks pregnant when she was hospitalized with severe complications. Her husband says that after she was told her fetus would not survive, she asked for a medical termination but was denied one because a fetal heartbeat was present. She spent two more days in agony before the heartbeat stopped and died of septicemia soon afterward.
Halappanaver, a Hindu, was told "this is a Catholic country" despite her protestation that she was neither Catholic nor Irish, her husband tells the Irish Times. An Irish pro-choice campaigner says her death is the result of the government's failure to implement a European Court of Human Rights ruling ordering the country to bring in effective procedures to determine when a woman can have a legal abortion. "This was an obstetric emergency which should have been dealt with in a routine manner," she says. "Yet Irish doctors are restrained from making obvious medical decisions by a fear of potentially severe consequences."