Hold Hospital Responsible for the Death of Woman Denied Medically Necessary Abortion

Target: Galway University Hospital, Ireland

Goal: To hold the hospital responsible for the death of Savita Halappanavar, a 31-year-old woman who died when the hospital refused to perform an abortion that would have saved her life.

Savita Halappanavar was 31, 17 weeks pregnant with her first child, and according to her husband Praveen, ‘on top of the world.’ Her death at the hands of the Galway University Hospital was entirely preventable. Savita admitted herself to the hospital when she started experiencing severe back pain and was told that she was having a miscarriage. When the miscarriage lasted longer than a few hours and the pain continued to worsen, she asked to have a medically induced abortion. Her request was denied, with hospital staff stating that Ireland was a Catholic country and they could not abort when there was a fetal heartbeat. Savita died slowly and painfully over the span of a week, losing the baby along the way, but by that point it was too late to save Savita’s life. An autopsy revealed that she died of blood poisoning, or septicaemia, which eventually caused her organs to fail. Sign this petition and hold the hospital responsible for Savita’s death, for if they had induced and aborted the baby as Savita begged for them to do, she would still be alive today.

According to the BBC, the law in Ireland states that ‘abortion is illegal in the Republic except where there is a real and substantial risk to the life, as distinct from the health, of the mother.’ Savita’s cruel and preventable death is an unfortunate example of how women’s lives are at risk when they do not have the power to execute their own reproductive rights and decisions. Savita was only 31. She and her husband both begged the hospital to perform the abortion and save her life, and the hospital refused. An individual was denied a life-saving operation because she was a woman and was carrying a child. At what point did Savita stop being a person and simply became a womb? Perhaps the hospital staff had trouble distinguishing the fine line between Savita’s health being at risk and her life being at risk. Savita did not have any doubts–she asked repeatedly for the operation as she lay in agonizing pain. At 31, she and her husband could have tried and been able to have more children, should they have wished to. The decision to deny Savita’s request for an abortion cost Savita her life.

Although Savita’s life was in danger, and the law states that abortions can be performed to save the mother’s life, she was allowed to lie dying in a hospital bed for seven days, ignored and treated like nothing more than a human incubator. Sign this petition and demand that the hospital be held responsible for Savita’s preventable death. Although it will not soften the blow that her husband is reeling from, perhaps it will awaken in others an anger and a drive to change the laws that deny women the freedom to their own reproductive rights and to their very lives.


Dear Galway University Hospital,

The death of 31-year-old Savita Halappanavar is a tragedy that you are responsible for. By refusing to perform the abortion that would have saved her life, the loss of the baby which was inevitable as she was in the process of miscarrying, you reduced her to nothing more than a human incubator. You denied her the basic human right of autonomy and freedom over her decisions. She begged for the abortion, saying she was in agonizing pain, and you watched her die.

It is sickening that her death will be nothing more than a statistic on your record, as with the decision to refuse her a life-saving operation you made her husband both childless and a widower. She was 31–perfectly capable of having another child if she and her husband decided to do so. In fact, if you had medically induced the abortion when it was first determined that she was having a miscarriage and she asked for the operation, you would have increased her chances of becoming pregnant again, rather than forcing her to lie in agony as she miscarried over several days.

The law in Ireland states that abortions can be performed to save a woman’s life, so regardless of the hospital’s religious views about living in a Catholic country, it would have been within your legal rights to perform the operation that your patient asked for. Please, do not let her death be in vain. Amend the hospital’s policies to be in accordance with the law rather than in line with religious doctrine.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Progress Ohio via Flickr

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One Comment

  1. What’s the point of letting the woman die and the child die because you idiots don’t believe in abortion?

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