India on Thursday expressed “concern” over the death of a pregnant Indian woman in Ireland after doctors allegedly refused her an abortion because it was against the laws of the country.
Savita Halappanavar, who was 17 weeks pregnant, died of septicaemia on October 28, a week after she was admitted to University Hospital Galway in the west of the country.
“We deeply regret the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar… The death of an Indian national in such circumstances is a matter of concern,” foreign ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin told a news conference.
“We understand that the Irish authorities have initiated two inquiries (and) we are awaiting the results of these inquiries and we will take it from there,” he said in New Delhi.
Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny described the death of the 31-year-old dentist as a “tragedy”.
Halappanavar repeatedly asked staff at the hospital to terminate her pregnancy because she had severe back pain and was miscarrying, her family said.
Doctors allegedly refused her demand, telling her that “this is a Catholic country”.
The hospital said it would begin a review of her death as soon as it could consult with her family, who are in India for her funeral.
Abortion is illegal in Roman Catholic-dominated Ireland except when it is necessary to save the life of the mother.
Ireland’s abortion laws have been the subject of debate for years.
Under a 1992 Supreme Court ruling, women in Ireland are legally entitled to an abortion when it is necessary to save the life of the mother. But legislation has never been passed to reflect this.
A 1982 referendum acknowledged the “right to life of the unborn… with due regard to the life of the mother”, while a second in 1992 added an amendment that permitted the right to travel abroad for an abortion.
The Times of India newspaper said Praveen, the women’s 34-year-old husband, had blamed New Delhi for failing to extend timely help to his wife.
Speaking from his home in the southern state of Karnataka, he said Indian authorities had not been “willing to go out of their way to help” the family.