A pre-Inquest hearing into the death of Mrs Savita Halappanavar will open in Galway, Republic of Ireland this morning. The 31 year old Indian dentist died on the 28th October 2012 at Galway University Hospital shortly after suffering a miscarriage. Savita was 17 weeks pregnant when she presented at hospital complaining of severe back pain a week earlier.  Her death sparked numerous international protests and has re-ignited discussions about Ireland’s anti-abortion laws

Savita’s Husband, Mr Praveen Halappanavar, stated that she had been in a lot of pain and repeatedly asked for a termination over a three day period. This treatment was refused as the foetal heartbeat was still present; they were told that ‘Ireland is a Catholic country’. Abortion in Ireland remains illegal unless it occurs as a result of medical intervention to preserve the mother’s life. Savita passed away in the hospital’s intensive care unit four days after the foetal heartbeat had stopped. Pathologist Dr Grace Callagy found that Savita had died of septicaemia and E.coli ESBL.

West Galway Coroner, Dr Ciaran McLoughlin, is expected to set out a number of things in the hearing today including how the inquest will proceed, as well as finalising the full witness list.

Over 40 statements have been taken by Gardai (Irish police force) in connection with this case. Witnesses set to give evidence during the inquest include members of staff at Galway University Hospital, friends of Savita, and her husband. It has been revealed that the statement of the consultant who treated Savita at Galway University Hospital confirms that Savita’s request for a termination was refused. This statement is backed up by other members of hospital staff.

The solicitor representing Mr Halappanavar said he hoped the inquest would “deliver the truth”.

Investigations and reviews are still being carried out by Ireland’s Health Service Executive and Health information and Quality Authority.

Following today’s preliminary inquest hearing, the full inquest is set to resume on 8th April.

Follow the link for more information about the inquest process.

By Kelly Darlington, Inquest Lawyer