Chair of Savita Halappanavar inquiry claims repealing Eighth Amendment would "right a wrong"

It comes as No campaigners say pro-life laws "did not contribute" to Savita's death

Chair of Savita Halappanavar inquiry claims repealing Eighth Amendment would "right a wrong"

Professor Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran. Picture by: Brian Lawless/PA Wire/PA Images

The chair of the inquiry into Savita Halappanavar's death in Galway in 2012 has called for a 'Yes' vote in Friday's Eighth Amendment referendum.

The 31-year-old Indian woman, who was 17 weeks pregnant, died at University Hospital Galway from sepsis while suffering a miscarriage.

An investigation into her death found the Eighth Amendment and laws around abortion played a role after her request for an abortion was denied.

Savita Halappanavar

The report stated: "The investigation team is satisfied that concerns about the law, whether clear or not, impacted on the exercise of clinical professional judgement." 

However, it added that the team "did not have the remit to attempt to review this aspect of Irish Law".

Campaigners on the 'No' side of the referendum debate have said Savita's case is being misrepresented.

On their website, the Doctors For Life group says reports found that Savita died "as a result of the medical mismanagement of an aggressive sepsis caused by a multi-drug resistant bacterium" - adding that "Ireland's pro-life laws did not contribute to her death".

However, Prof Sabaratnam Arulkumaran suggests the constitutional ban on abortion prevented Savita from being treated properly.

Speaking at an event in Dublin hosted by the Irish Family Planning Association, Prof Arulkumaran observed: "If she had had [a termination] two days earlier, she would have been alive. By waiting and going into septic shock, it became too late to save her life.

"Just the fact that the health personnel were wanting to listen to the baby's heart that morning when she was severely sick... just indicates how worried the health personnel were in terminating the pregnancy."

He added: "Ireland is a just and compassionate society. But the Eighth Amendment means that this compassion is not extended to women who need to end a pregnancy that endangers her health or her life or that has become a crisis.

"On May 25th, people in Ireland have the opportunity to right a wrong, to better protect the health of pregnant women and to ensure that doctors can provide the best possible care to women in Ireland.”

Over the weekend, a video released by the Together For Yes campaign featured the parents of Savita calling for a Yes vote, saying that "no family in future should have to undergo what we have gone through".

Reporting by Sean Defoe and Stephen McNeice