Irish inquest: treatment for Savita did not require abortion

As more details emerge about the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar in Ireland, evidence casts doubt on her husband’s recollection of events and indicates that abortion would have been an inappropriate treatment for her medical condition.

Praveen Halappanavar’s account of events has been cast into doubt by evidence presented to the inquest by hospital staff and records. Though he alleges that Savita requested abortion three times, the Health Service executive said only one request for termination was made, at which point the obstetrician told the couple that there was no medical need to induce labor. At that time, there was no threat to Savita’s life. Praveen claimed to be present at this meeting, though he was actually driving his wife’s parents to the airport at the time.

Dr. Susan Knowles, a microbiologist with the Irish National Maternity Hospital, told the inquest that emergency delivery of Savita’s baby was unwarranted before chorioamnionitis (infection of the membrane) was suspected on Wednesday. Before that point, Dr. Knowles testified that there was no substantial risk to Savita’s life. After infection was discovered, however, labor should have been induced.

Dr. Katherine Astbury, the obstetrician treating Savita, told the inquest that Galway Hospital was prepared to deliver Savita’s baby and end the pregnancy after septicemia was diagnosed. The reason the hospital checked the baby’s heartbeat was to ensure that miscarriage had not already occurred, which would increase Halappanavar’s risk of sepsis.

Nevertheless, after sepsis set in, the obstetrician was to deliver the baby regardless of fetal heartbeat. This is consistent with Irish medical health guidelines (Section 21.4), which always ensure proper care for pregnant women whose health is in danger. While emergency delivery was discussed, direct abortion was never considered.

Sadly, signs of infection were missed because of system failures in the treatment of sepsis. The Irish inquest revealed that this delay was the key factor in Savita’s case. Dr. Astbury told the inquest that there were two major gaps in treatment: that vital signs were not checked every 4 hours after membranes ruptured, and the results of blood tests indicating infection were not promptly passed on. Because of these delays, the infection was not detected until it had put Savita’s life in critical danger.

Savita is also confirmed to have been infected with a rare antibiotic-resistant strain of E. coli. Dr. Derbhile Keady, a microbiologist, testified that it is extremely unusual for maternity patients to suffer from ESBL E. coli. It now seems that all the circumstances surrounding this case were unusual. This was the first maternal death in Galway Hospital in 17 years.

The medical experts believe that the intentional killing of an unborn baby is never medically required to save a mother’s life. A recent poll shows that 3 in 4 Irish citizens support their nation’s constitutional protection for unborn children and the existing medical practice that treats expectant mother and baby as patients. It seems that Ireland won’t be fooled by an internationally funded, media-driven pro-choice propaganda campaign to legalize abortion.

Savita Halappanavar’s death was tragic and preventable. Nevertheless, one thing appears clear: this case should not be used to promote legalized abortion in Ireland.

  • Lies and the liars who tell them. It is sick that you would lie like this about a dead woman and her grieving husband.

    • JDC

      Care to point out any actual lies?

      • Jack

        You don’t wait for confirmation of sepsis when you have ruptured membranes, cervical dilation, and a 17-week pregnancy. They should have taken it out sooner

        • Brandy

          “It”? That baby deserveda chance too. The doctors were trying to save baby and mother, and I applaud them for it. Abortion is never the answer!

          • Detroiter327

            You applaud them for a litany of mistakes and a woman’s death?

          • And you defend Gosnell, too-right?

            Were all of his actions “mistakes”?–you waste your energy on pointless debate where the Doctors and Hospitals in Savita’s case most likekly really tried to do their best. Yet, when abortionists like Gosnell come to light there is dead silence from the likes of you. I suggest that you seek and find the official Grand Jury report and utilize your energy to actually make a difference and educate folks about the truth.
            Or is your stance silence and complacency?

          • dog_is_love

            Actually, in this case it was. Now they are both dead. Happy?

        • The rupture of of membranes in relation to infection is DIRECTLY correlated to the amount of external intervention introduced. The rupture of membranes, in and of itself, does NOT constitute an emergency–however, that risk increases with every internal exam where pathogens are introduced.

          We also have medical technology where the cervix can be stitched to prevent premature labor, we also have steroids which are used to accelerate the rate of growth for the baby’s lungs etc. Really, the intentionally killing of the baby/abortion was unnecessary.

          The fact is–to perform an abortion at 17 weeks, the hospital would have had to further dilate her with laminaria (takes days!) and then literally rip the living baby out of her! Research D & E abortion. So if it was truly an emergency those days needed to dilate her would have cost her her life.

      • Allison Patricia

        This is not even factual. Does this website have any scholarly academic research to back these claims? In this case the already living should be granted more consideration. Not a possible fetus that would have died anyways.

        • JDC

          A “possible fetus”? Really? Wasn’t even a fetus yet? OK, then. But still, you didn’t actually answer my question about actual lies, you just reasserted that there are some, albeit in a slightly more sophisticated sounding way.

          • Detroiter327

            Lie 1) The medical experts believe that the intentional killing of an unborn baby is never medically required to save a mother’s life.

            Why is this a lie? Well first of all its directly contradicted in the authors own analysis. The doctors in Ireland admit that if diagnosed properly they would have actually terminated the pregnancy to save the life of the mother. Inducing labor, resulting in the termination of the pregnancy, was the preferred course of care.

          • You NAILED it, smart ass–but in Life’s favor and contradict yourself.
            “Intentional killing” is NOT equivalent to “terminating” a pregnancy. Ending the pregnancy’s INTENTION is to save both, mom and baby, (can also be accomplished via C-section). An abortion is the INTENTIONAL killing of the child.
            This is the principle of “double effect” and yes, it boils down to–at the very essence- the INTENTION of the action.

            Please research Dr. Levatino’s Federal Testimony in the US.
            European Symposium declaring the same:
            Or seek out the 480+ Doctors whom have signed the statement that is is NEVER necessary to abort to save the life of the mother.
            See the sheer numbers here: Please note that life of the mom includes –HA! Mental health?

            It is a MYTH that has been perpetuated for so long, that the uneducated actually believe it.

          • Detroiter327

            You do realize that the Irish did not induce labor because they classified it as an abortion? You realize that according to the Irish doctors termination was in fact abortion? Im not really sure what you are talking about, but it has no basis in what actually went on in this case or in Irish abortion law. You can sit here and type your opinion about what abortion is till the cows come home. That does not change the fact that IRISH LAW classified termination as abortion in this case.

            (On a side note I wouldnt brag about the “sheer numbers” of doctors who say abortion is never necessary to save the life of the mother. That 480 is in the minority and is dwarfed by their opposition)

          • I’ll refrain from repeating my above post. I suggest you research a bit more to deeply understand the issues. I will clarify that the definition of abortion is not a matter of opinion; it is a medical fact.

            Furthermore, if you had read the link on the “Professional Conduct and Ethics” that Josh linked to, you will, in fact see this very definition:

            “21.4 In current obstetrical practice, rare complications can arise where
            therapeutic intervention (including termination of a pregnancy)
            is required at a stage when, due to extreme immaturity of the
            baby,there may be little or no hope ofthe baby surviving. In these
            exceptional circumstances, it may be necessary to intervene to
            terminate the pregnancy to protect the life of the mother, while
            making every effort to preserve the life of the baby”

            This serves to reiterate the EXACT point I made above.
            I will repeat: learn about principle of “double standard.”

            That 480 is a small sampling sir. The entire European Symposium and countless testimony against such proves this. Do some research on the Nations where abortion is illegal and they are ALL models for maternity and birth care. They have the lowest mortality rates for both, mom and baby. These nations are in the “minority” which is truly irrelevant when you examine the facts.

            Often it is the minority whom change policy. Going with status-quo or main-streamed/pop culture has has devastating effects in world history as is true for the holocaust and slavery. (and abortion)

          • Detroiter327

            Please link me to your research showing that countries that have outlawed abortion have lower mortality rates for mother and baby. I just spit out my tea when I saw that.

          • I will graciously GIVE you some of the research, since it appears you failed to do so. Sub in any country’s name to see their stats.

            Unicef Stats
            fertility rate, 2010 2.1
            Maternal mortality ratio† , 2008, adjusted 3
            Neonatal mortality rate, 2010 2
            Infant mortality rate (under 1), 2010 3
            Population annual growth rate (%), 2010-2030 0.9
            Total population (thousands), 2010 4470
            Annual no. of births (thousands), 2010 72

            Total fertility rate, 2010 1.5
            Maternal mortality ratio† , 2008, adjusted 39
            Neonatal mortality rate, 2010 6
            Infant mortality rate (under 1), 2010 9
            Population annual growth rate (%), 2010-2030 -0.2
            Total population (thousands), 2010 142958
            Annual no. of births (thousands), 2010 1682

            Total fertility rate, 2010 2.6
            Maternal mortality ratio† , 2008, adjusted 100
            Neonatal mortality rate, 2010 12
            Infant mortality rate (under 1), 2010 23
            Population annual growth rate (%), 2010-2030 1.1

            Total population (thousands), 2010 5788
            Annual no. of births (thousands), 2010 138


            Total fertility rate, 2010 2.1

            Maternal mortality ratio† , 2008, adjusted 24

            Neonatal mortality rate, 2010 4

            Infant mortality rate (under 1), 2010 7

            Population annual growth rate (%), 2010-2030 0.8

            Total population (thousands), 2010 310384
            Annual no. of births (thousands), 2010 4301

    • dog_is_love

      Troll eo!

      • Greg-Ru

        Are you describing yourself?

        • dog_is_love

          yeah sure you betcha! how’s that quitty lying thing workin out fer ya? 2 more years!

          • Greg-Ru

            Oooooooh you’re an intellectual power house, aren’t ya? Nice come back, sleaze!

          • dog_is_love

            an abortion would have saved the mother. now they are both dead. I hope you’re happy.

          • Ghost_Nos

            Were you drunk while typing?

          • dog_is_love

            who has time to drink when we can cry over other people’s abortions in another country with different laws? oh the indignity!

    • What about all of these dead women? These are all lies, too -right?

      Yes, you can independently verify each death with publicly available records.

  • sierra

    Except its not lying seeing as how he just laid all the evidence out…

    did you even read the words above?

  • Meditate on this : ‘The Mater of the National Maternity Hospital has said today that while her care was very poor in areas, what essentially caused the difficulty (e.g killed her horribly and with her in terror) was the inability to terminate earlier legally. he said ‘THE PROBABILITY IS SAVITA WOULD BE ALIVE HAD THERE BEEN AN EARLIER TERMINATION’..inotherwords, by the time her life was in ‘substantial danger’ it was too late for her as well as the already doomed foetus. So sick and wrong and grotesque it does not bear scrutiny from any civilized human being. RIP Savita. May this appalling and brutal state manslaughter not be in vain.

  • marie27

    Great article. Not like the pro-aborts really care about the facts (or women dying, for that matter, since they completely ignore the deaths of women from abortion. Tonya Reeves? Jennifer Moribelli? cickets.)

    • dog_is_love

      ^ did not read the article ^

    • Allison Patricia

      pro-choice. not pro-aborts. Be politically correct next time please.

      • Julia

        Why? People who supported slavery didn’t think that all white people should be forced to own slaves, so were they pro-slavery or pro-choice?

      • When abortion apologists stop saying “anti-choice,” I’ll stop saying “pro-abort.” Wanna shake on it?

  • LCM

    I think some people are still missing the point. At least one of the doctors has said that labor should have been induced earlier. But there is a difference between induced labor and abortion! Abortion is the deliberate killing of an unborn person, whereas induced labor is simply removing the unborn child from the womb prematurely. Induced labor does not have the intent of killing the child. If they had done this at the right time, then the Irish doctors would have been working to save the lives of both Pravita and her child, even though her baby would probably have been too premature to survive for long. This is why removing the child from a woman with an ectopic pregnancy is generally accepted by pro-lifers; the intent is not to kill the child, but to save the mother’s life. If there is a complication, then it should be acceptable, and usually be very easy, to either induce labor or to surgically remove the child without intentionally killing it. Abortion should never be accepted because it intentionally ends the life of a separate, unique human being.

    • Detroiter327

      At 17 weeks if labor was induced it would have been defined as a “termination”. As Dr. Astbury (the OB/GYN) noted it was a legal issue. Savita Halappanavar’s health came second to the cardiac activity of a non viable fetus. Strict abortion laws directly impeded her course of care. That is the point.

      • LCM

        Savita Halappanavar = a person. Non-viable fetus = a person. Strict abortion laws in Ireland exist because the majority of the people there recognize that both the lives of the mother and unborn child deserve equal protection. The doctors did not induce labor because at the time they thought that they could save both Savita and her baby while the baby was still in the womb. Dr. Astbury, the consultant obstetrician, admitted that had they been following proper protocol they would have realized that an induced labor WAS needed. Then they would have tried everything to save both patients.

        So yes, a “termination” of the pregnancy was needed. But in this case, it would have been ending the pregnancy by removing the baby early and then treating both mother and child, as opposed to killing the baby in utero and only treating the mother. The reason there’s been a lot of hype about this is because a lot of pro-choicers falsely believe that a direct abortion (i.e. killing the baby) was needed to save Savita’s life (some people think the ONLY thing needed), where in reality there were many factors that contributed to her death (not checking her vitals properly, ineffective antibiotics, etc.). So like I said, the point is that the direct killing of her child was not medically necessary to save her life. Moving the child, yes, but not killing it.

        • Detroiter327

          So you admit that the delivery was necessary, which would have “killed the baby” but the “killing of her child” was not necessary? Thats a really odd contradiction you’ve made yourself there. There is no doubt the fetus would not have survived outside the womb. “Moving” the child would have resulted in killing it.

          What was done in Ireland (subjecting the mothers health to the cardiac activity of a non viable fetus) goes directly against the medical protocall for diagnosis and treatment of chorioamnionitis in America and Canada. In America the course of care would have been immediate delivery which in this case would have resulted in the death of the fetus.

          Your final point at the end goes directly against medical standards. All the experts involved realized that once chorioamniotis was diagnosed they have no choice but to deliver which would have resulted in the termination of the pregnancy, or as you like to call it killing of the child. That is indeed the recommended course of action from the medical community.

          • LCM

            Yes, delivery was most likely necessary at this stage in Savita’s health. But ONCE AGAIN, killing her child was NOT necessary. Abortions are in place to specifically kill children. Induced premature labor (and other such procedures) are put in place to save the child and mother from complications, but sometimes, yes, they do end in the result of the death of one or both patients. While it is very, very unlikely that a 17-18 week fetus would survive, it is not impossible. James Elgin Gill survived at 21 weeks 5 days in 1987, which was over TWENTY YEARS ago. The smallest baby was Rumaisa Rahman at 8.6 ounces, or 244 grams. Not to mention Amillia Taylor and Madeline Mann, who were also extremely early/small. Who is to say that had Savita’s doctors induced labor to save both victims, they would have failed to save the child? Very, very unlikely, yes, but not down-right impossible.

            While I don’t know much of the protocol of treating chorioamnionitis in America and Canada, it goes without saying that both of these countries in general place more value on the life of the mother. I could go on and on and give examples about how America doesn’t value unborn people, even without bringing up how in many states it is legal to pretty much kill your unborn child on a whim (like the Kermit Gosnell case not getting any attention and the accident last summer when Heather Soruvik lost her baby within days of giving birth but the man responsible couldn’t be charged with vehicular manslaughter because the baby wasn’t born yet).

            Also, didn’t I explain that a termination could just be ending the pregnancy itself, but not by killing the child? Technically, when a full-term woman gives birth in a hospital, her pregnancy has been “terminated”. All abortions are terminations, but not all terminations are abortions. Most people just think termination automatically means abortion, which is probably because a lot of pro-choicers don’t want to use the term “abortion” and give people scary images in their head.

            I don’t understand your last paragraph at all. I thought my last point was, once again, that it was probably needed that Savita be induced so that the doctors could save both lives. You have been saying this whole time that termination should have been granted to Savita immediately. You also just said that the doctors should have had no choice but to deliver the child. We are all saying the same thing!

            I’m sorry (well, actually I’m not, it’s just an expression), but I’ve read some other comments you’ve made to other people. From your replies, it seems to me that you’re not really listening to the other people’s viewpoint, but are just arguing for the sake of arguing. Maybe I’m wrong, because communicating on online discussion boards and other text-based media is very difficult, and it’s easy for things to be interpreted wrong. But seeing as how it’s very unlikely that you’ll ever appreciate and value the lives of people that are still very young and very depending, I think I’ll refrain from replying to you on this board (unless you actually come up with something compelling, for once).

          • Detroiter327

            I really cant this any other way, but you are wrong. IRISH LAW DETERMINED THAT DELIVERING THE BABY AT THAT POINT WAS ABORTING IT. Your personal opinion of if what is termination and what is abortion has no bearing on this matter at all. There was a week of testimony from pro choice and pro life doctor alike that proved under Irish law delivery would be classified as an abortion. There is no other way to define an operation that directly and knowingly results in the death of the fetus. Why do I seem rigid and unwilling to listen about this particular point? Because your attempting to tell me that your personal opinion about abortion is more valid, relevant, and credible then weeks of testimony from people who actually do this for a living in Ireland. That testimony has said that inducing pregnancy at that point and abortion were the exact same thing.

          • You have failed, with every single one of your posts, to back up ANY of your opinion with any evidence. None. But we have offered several sources. Then you have the nerve to demand futher research…please don’t insult me. Repeating the same information over and over and hoping it to be true without backing it up with a single iota of information is what YOU have done to support your opinions. This has been a one one conversation as that goes.

            As a matter of fact, the lower mortality rates you wished to see are common knowledge for anyone involved in the movement. Research it yourself–CDC, World Health Organization it is all there for you.

          • Detroiter327

            The fact that you dont see any of the testimony given during the inquest as evidence is why I troll this website. Get a grip.

  • Detroiter327

    Im not sure why the author has decided to completely omit the vast amount of facts and testimony that disagree with him, but this “analysis” is flat out wrong and lacking. The main problem is that the author has taken a singular piece of testimony from a medical expert and attempted to pass it off as the official and final position of the inquest. Dont be fooled. It is not. I will point out a few problems with this “analysis” but I highly recommend everyone just look into this for themselves.

    1) The HSE report which was ordered has determined that there was “an overemphasis by hospital staff on the welfare of Ms Halappanavar’s unviable foetus and an underemphasis on her deteriorating health.”
    2) Dr. Peter Boylan, the previous head of Irelands maternity hospitals, testified that “The real problem was the inability to terminate prior to Mrs Halappanavar developing a real or substantive risk to her life”. Im not sure why a microbiologist’s testimony is being presented as more credible to that of a Head OB/GYN. Then again, I’m not sure why his testimony has been omitted from this “analysis” all together.
    3) Even Dr. Kathrine Astbery has admitted that she could not offer termination because she feared it would “become a legal issue”. By the OB/GYNS own admission abortion laws directly interfered in this woman’s course of care.

    4) As early as October 21st it could be determined that Savita was suffering an “inevitable impending pregnancy loss”. The fetal remains were removed 3 days later. This woman had to carry a non viable fetus and get more ill by the hour for 3 days.
    5) Many of the statements the widower has stood by have been validated as the inquest has continued. Mainly that he was told by a midwife that abortion was not an option because it was a “catholic thing”.The hospital staff members have also been shown to have gigantic omissions in their record keeping, and they are even contradicting each other as the inquest continues.

    • “Dr Peter Boylan, who claimed Ireland’s pro-life laws prevented Savita from being treated, has previously supported the legalisation of abortion in Ireland.” I see you have friends in high places. No wonder pro-aborts knew about the case… even before the news broke out. What a wonderful way to “save women’s lives”…… manipulate a story, twist facts and lie to women and everyone around the world.

      • Detroiter327

        Firstly, Dr. Boylan is a capable and talented physician with years of experience. I’m unsure as to why his highly regarded professional opinion should be discounted. Secondly, how exactly has the story been manipulated? This must be a wide reaching conspiracy since all credible news outlets have reported similar facts.

  • An unborn baby is more important than the mother’s life???

    • No. Doctors should recognize both the baby and the mother as patients and act to save both of them if possible.

      • dog_is_love

        17 week old fetuses live without a mother all the time. Just not in our species.

      • Detroiter327

        In America and Canada the standard of care for chorioamnionitis would be to deliver the fetus or ““expeditious delivery” . Obviously this would result in a termination for a portion of the women effected. Even the medical team involved admitted that if this was properly diagnosed they would have to induce which would result in the premature death of the fetus. Considering this is the standard treatment of chrorioamnionitis in America, and that even Savita’s own doctors have said that if diagnosed properly they would have terminated, how can you say that “the medical experts” do not recommend termination to save the life of the mother? This is exactly what Savita’s doctors attempted to do but it was too late.

        • Allison Patricia

          thankfully abortion is legal in Canada so women do not have to go through all this bs

          • JDC

            what bs?

          • Canada also has recorded almost 500 live births that they allowed to die…. Public Health Mininstry records.

  • Calvin Freiburger

    Riddle me this, pro-aborts: regardless of who you believe about the details of Savita’s case, how does it reflect badly on anyone in the American pro-life movement or have any practical implications for the American abortion debate? Can you identify any proposal in this country that would forbid pregnant women from receiving life-saving treatment at the expense of their babies’ lives? Can you find anyone who advocates for such a thing? National Right to Life Committee doesn’t. American Life League doesn’t. Personhood USA doesn’t. Life Report doesn’t. The Catholic Church doesn’t. Rick Santorum doesn’t. Scott Klusendorf doesn’t. So tell me, where’s the threat that we’re going to riddle the US with new Savitas?

    • Allison Patricia

      what about rape?

      • Julia

        So people conceived in rape aren’t real people who should have the same right to live as any one else?

      • Calvin Freiburger

        What about it? Let’s stay on-topic.

    • Basset_Hound

      Even in a country where abortion laws are as strict as Ireland, how many years did it take for a case to come up where all the unfortunate circumstances aligned to create such a situation?

  • Further support and evidence for this article:

  • The fact remains is that Savita’s tragic death did not come about because of the refusal of a termination but because of mismanaged infection control. Had it been treated properly both mother and child may have survived.