‘They killed my daughter’

The Government has launched diplomatic efforts to repair the country’s reputation in India after the parents of Savita Halappanavar blamed Ireland’s abortion laws for her death.

‘They killed my daughter’

“In an attempt to save a four-month-old foetus, they killed my 30-year-old daughter. How is that fair, you tell me?” said Ms Halappanavar’s mother, A Mahadevi.

“How many more cases will there be? The rules should be changed as per the requirement of Hindus. We are Hindus, not Christians.”

Ms Halappanavar’s father, Andanappa Yalagi, also blamed the abortion laws for the loss of his daughter, who was 31 when she died at Galway University Hospital last month.

Ms Halappanavar’s husband, Praveen, said “the whole of the Indian community is together” and would react if there were “inadequate actions” in response to his wife’s death.

With emotions running high, Ireland’s ambassador to India, Feilim McLaughlin, is today briefing government figures in New Delhi on the incident.

He is also meeting Indian opposition group Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), after the Hindu nationalist organisation requested a meeting before its planned protest outside the Irish embassy this afternoon.

The briefings are part of an effort to explain the precise nature of Ireland’s abortion laws “in light of strong headlines”. A Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson has confirmed that while meetings take place after the unexpected death of a country’s citizen abroad, this is an “exceptional case”.

In addition, India’s ambassador to Ireland, Debashish Chakravarti, held talks with department officials yesterday. He has asked to be kept briefed on any developments into Savita’s death.

The diplomatic moves came as the tragic case continued to make global headlines.

Two HSE investigations have been launched, with officials expected to confirm the names of the investigating panel and its independent expert later today.

Health Minister James Reilly stressed he wanted the findings, which may take up to three months to complete, to stand up to “the scrutiny of the world”.

In the Dáil, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said there would have to be “legal clarity” brought to the X case judgment.

He pledged the Government would act on the issue, but avoided a promise to legislate.

This comes amid speculation the Coalition would prefer to introduce regulations rather than legislation in order to avoid a split between the largely pro-life Fine Gael and pro-choice Labour.

In the 1992 X case, the Supreme Court ruled abortion was permissible in Ireland in cases where there was a risk to the mother’s life, including the risk of suicide. But successive governments have failed to introduce legislation to clarify the instances where a mother’s life is deemed to be at risk.

Mr Gilmore said the Government would be guided by the report of an expert group on the issue, which was submitted to Dr Reilly on Tuesday and to Mr Gilmore and Enda Kenny yesterday.

Mr Reilly said he hadn’t yet had time to read it in full.

He also sought to correct the impression that he had vowed in the Dáil last April to legislate.

“In the Dáil, I committed to the fact that this Government would not be the seventh government to fail to address this issue, and I stand over that.

“Some people took that to mean that I was going to legislate, other people took it to be mean there’d be a referendum — I didn’t commit to either of those things, and it would be improper of me to do so given that we have an expert group [advising on the issue].”

* Read more:

‘They killed my daughter’

India keeps close watch on Irish response

Gilmore: Legal clarity needed over X case judgment

Make-up of investigation team to be announced today

‘Reputational damage done to the country’

Experts divided on the clarity of law on abortion

Savita Halappanavar - Failure to lead has cost us dearly

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