Thursday, November 22, 2012

Ireland to proceed with inquiry into Savita’s death

LONDON, November 22, 2012

The Irish government on Wednesday agreed to remove three doctors of the Galway University Hospital, where Savita Halappanavar died, from the panel set up by Health Service Executive (HSE) to investigate her death.

But her husband Praveen insisted that he would not be satisfied with anything less than a ``fully independent'' inquiry and threatened to withhold her medical records from the HSE accusing it of ``messing up'' the case.

"I am not happy with it. They just set up a panel and didn't consult us at all. I am not happy with the HSE. The HSE are the ones who messed up Savita's care. Basically I am insisting on a public inquiry," he told The Irish Times.

He said Savita's father, Andanappa Yalagi, had called him to discuss progress on the inquiry.

"They are very anxious to see what's happening. I said I had to keep the pressure on. I said I was not happy with the panel."

His lawyer Gerard O'Donnell rejected Prime Minister Enda Kenny's appeal to Mr. Halappanavar to meet the inquiry chief Professor Sabaratnam Arulkumaran to discuss his concerns.

"To do so would be in some way to acquiesce with the investigation or the person appointed by the HSE to investigate," said Mr. O'Donnell.

Mr. Kenny was also criticised by the Opposition Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin who said it was not appropriate to be making public appeals to Mr. Halappanavar when he was grieving. Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams called the government's handling of the case ``ill-judged and mismanaged''.

As the demand for an independent inquiry gathered momentum with Opposition MPs and rights activists throwing their weight behind it, the Health Minister James Reilly argued that it would be too time-consuming and the answers would be "an awful lot" slower to come out.

Another minister, Brendan Howlin, said the government was "open to any ideas" but did not want "a tribunal that goes on forever''. It wanted an objective, fair and speedy inquiry into what happened. The HSE said the inquiry would need the full co-operation of Savita's family in order to get to the truth.

Pro-life campaigners, meanwhile, criticised the choice of Prof. Arulkumaran to lead the inquiry saying that given his ``strong advocacy'' of liberal abortion laws his appointment was ``unfortunate and inappropriate''.

The Irish Parliament began discussion on a motion calling on the government to implement the Supreme Court ruling that abortion should be allowed when the life of the mother is at risk.
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