India Summons Irish Envoy Over Abortion Controversy

Posted November 16th, 2012 at 10:55 am (UTC-5)
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India has summoned Ireland's ambassador to New Delhi to discuss the death last month of an Indian woman who was denied an abortion on religious grounds in an Irish hospital.

M. Ganapathi of India's External Affairs Ministry met Friday with Irish envoy Feilim McLaughlin and voiced concern about the death of Savita Halappanavar. Ganapathi said he hoped Ireland will hold an independent, transparent probe into Halappanavar's death.

India's Foreign Affairs Minister, Salman Khurshid, said Friday India hopes the obligation to save a mother's life is more important than religious beliefs.

Halappanavar, a 31-year-old Indian dentist, was 17 weeks pregnant when she suffered severe pain due to a miscarriage. Doctors refused her demand for an abortion, saying Ireland is a Catholic country and that they could not do anything as long as there was a fetal heartbeat.

She died of blood poisoning a week after she was admitted to a hospital and three days after the death of the fetus she was carrying.

On Friday, about a hundred protesters from India's main opposition party gathered outside the Irish embassy in New Delhi to express anger about Halappanavar's death.

On Thursday, Halappanavar's parents criticized Ireland's abortion laws. Her father said a combination of medical negligence and Irish abortion laws led to his daughter's death.

Ireland's constitution bans abortion, but a 1992 Supreme Court ruling found it should be legal when it is necessary to save the life of the mother.

Ireland is conducting at least two separate investigations into Halappanavar's death.