Video: Man Whose Wife Died From Being Denied an Abortion Speaks Out

Praveen Halappanavar’s wife, Savita, died while being forced to carry her fetus, which was being spontaneously aborted (ie miscarried). After the fetus was gone, Savita went into septic shock and died, apparently from the fetus being left too long*.

CNN quotes Mr. Halappanavar:

Halappanavar says he will settle for nothing less than a full public inquiry — one in which the wider health service, not just his wife’s death, is investigated by independent experts.

“Every single person in the family asked me how could this happen in a place like Ireland in the 21st century, because it was just so simple,” he said.

“When they knew the baby was not going to survive, why not think about the bigger life which was the mother, my wife Savita? And they didn’t.”

All he wants, he said, is the truth.

*Editor’s note: An original version of this story reported an incorrect assessment of Irish law. GMP’s MediaHound explains the issue more fully: 

I would point all readers to the article Eilís Mulroy: Pro-choice side must not hijack this terrible event – Published in the Irish Independent News paper Thursday November 15 2012 . 

As it says:

The question that needs to be asked is: was Ms Halappanavar treated in line with existing obstetrical practice in Ireland? In this kind of situation the baby can be induced early (though is very unlikely to survive). The decision to induce labour early would be fully in compliance with the law and the current guidelines set out for doctors by the Irish Medical Council.

Those guidelines allow interventions to treat women where necessary, even if that treatment indirectly results in the death to the baby. If they aren’t being followed, laws about abortion won’t change that.

The guidelines were set in 2001 and updated in 2009. – Please do note the most careful tone and words used. First amendment may apply to some – but it is NOT universal.

It would appear that there could be legal questions and even police investigation around the events, and how some chose to interpret national medical guidelines – which appear to have not been followed and which appear to have caused the death of Ms Halappanavar. Of course, that can only be mere speculation and full facts and medical details are now covered by the Statutory Investigation that is ongoing – and even covered by other laws which prevent comment – accurate, ill-judge or just plain hyperbole … or worst still Political Exploitation!

Beyond that the following is highly significant:

Any debate on the issue of abortion should be carried out in a reasonable manner. It does no service to Savita’s memory to use her tragic death as an impetus for legislation that is bad for both women and their babies.

Any investigation into the circumstances surrounding Savita’s death will happen against the backdrop of another investigation into the practices of health professionals when dealing with pregnant women in Ireland.

As a result of an undercover investigation published by the Irish Independent last month, the HSE has launched an investigation into crisis pregnancy counselling services in Ireland that were found to be giving illegal and life-threatening advice.


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  1. I can’t stand pro-forced birth. It denigrates the fmleae population to making their bodies a crime scene. I want desprately to be a cop one day but that is one crime scene I couldn’t examine without total consent from the women. Making abortion illegal is going to throw us back to days of back alley coat hanger abortions. Not a world I want to live in.

  2. The investigation into this case gets more amazing on two fronts.

    1) The failure of basic Journalism
    2) The way those failures mixed with a blood thirsty land on Netizens reacts at the slightest provocation.

    The news coverage claiming an Abortion had been denied was false – based upon the husbands views and not reality – and the reason hospital records did not show a request for termination is that one was not made!

    “Major discrepancies” in reporting of Savita’s death. Irish Times exposed for sensationalism

    and have a read of Doubts over Savita’s tragic death published by The Telegraph UK.

  3. John Anderson says:

    One of the things I don’t understand is why couldn’t they have given her a c-section and just delivered the dead fetus baby?

    • John you ask a simple and relevant question. However, it’s not simple to answer. What is worse so many don’t care because they supposedly already know all the facts and reality.

      One factor that has already been made public is the the Medical Records do not mention that a request for a termination had been made – in fact it’s not clear if the records even recorded that Ms Halappanavar was pregnant. That may seem amazing, but it is in the public domain.

      There are serious questions arising about the Hospital and staffing levels – the death occurred over a bank holiday weekend, and it is looking as if staffing including doctors had been cut and relevant expertise would not be available at the hospital until after the holiday – unless it was recognised there was a specific emergency and the relevant doctors needed to be called in.

      As One Irish Journalist has summed matters up:

      There are many questions to be answered here: How soon was the seriousness of her condition recognised? Why was the decision made not to abort the pregnancy? What factors underlay this decision – purely medical considerations, legal fears or moral viewpoints? Crucial questions hospital must answer

      It is clear that there has been a tragedy and a death – but the cause or causes are still not clear.

      I also find the sudden and Bizzare Focus on just this one case to be UNpleasantly opportunistic. If you consider the maternal mortality rate – today in the USA how many women died today and there is no net frenzy?

      The USA is 49th in the Global league on Maternal Mortality – and the Republic Of Ireland is actually higher up with a lower death rate/index. Even Amnesty International has been asking questions, cos in the USA that mortality rate also have a very big skew and imbalance around race. Deadly Delivery: The Maternal Health Care Crisis in the USA – 2011

      I wonder why a frenzy is getting whipped up? Is it Abortion in Ireland that is seen as the issue or is someone wanting to divert away from some issues closer to home? – and it’s also worth looking at the Morality Rates Globally – that big red swath across Africa Asia and even South America …. I wonder when the 10s of thousands of women who died in the last 24 hours may get mentioned? Wouldn’t you expect a whole section of the net to be in flames ….. daily?

      OR- is it that they don’t have a net presence to personalise the pseudo rage and a twitter account? Welcome to the distorted reality of the Googlearchy, Twitsphere and Farcebook. Civilisation is such an inspiration. P^/

  4. Not buying it says:

    Pardon me & a lot of other men if we show absolutely no concern for feminism issues, I am still shocked, dismayed & feeling animosity towards the ideology, after seeing it’s adherents in Toronto University protesting Dr.Warren Farrell public speaking for young boys & men issues.(suicides, jails, school dropouts,…etc).

    • What are you accomplishing my making this declaration? Stop grouping feminism into one neatly defined category. Just as feminism has its branches, degrees and segments, so will any ‘masculinist movement.’ Feminism and any ‘masculinism’ that becomes relevant whether socially, academically or otherwise, will both inform one another.

      Your notion of “absolutely no concern for feminism issues” is not only naive and juvenile, but is not accurate and you lack the foresight and wisdom to see that it isn’t true. One big problem, is that this notion of ‘feminism’ that is promoted through social gospel and mainstream media do not address the core concerns and arguments of feminism in a way that encourages dialogue. For the sake of brevity, I’m not going to write an essay about that.

      Most of us don’t really understand feminism and don’t understand its importance—as people, not just solely as men and women. I will also add that the whole reason why such a project exists is to help redefine, reconstruction and revision what is to be a man–hence The Good Men Project. Many of us don’t really and truly have a clear understand of what being a man is to ‘us’ and that we have agency in our own expression and conceptualization of that. We still operate under social frameworks and definitions that define that for us. In this reconstruction, a framework and an interest in feminist issues is needed if one is to construct a ‘masculinist’ framework because it will be relationally defined.

      Don’t lump a lot of ‘us other men’ into that caldron of those who narrow-mindedly feel that men’s issues are not connected to issues about women and feminism.

      PLEASE don’t ruin this great project by mentalities like this. Most men do not think like this. Most men don’t want to be like this.

    • And if it were YOUR wife, daughter, mother or sister this happened to? It would be “a feminist issue” of no concern to you? Really? As a man, this would not matter to you, and therefore does not belong on GMP? When women die, it is of no concern to men? It is a “feminist issue?” I nominate this comment for Comment of the Day. It is perhaps the most callous and bizarre comment I’ve ever seen on this site.

      • I agree Lori, a completely bizarre comment.
        As both you and John A mention in your posts, this was a human issue.
        What happened to Savita was repulsive

    • John Anderson says:

      I’m as staunch an MRA as anyone. I’ve only been one for about two years and granted I’m not as familiar with the different types, but unless I’m doing it completely wrong, women dying needlessly in excruciating pain because she was denied an abortion, is an issue for the MRM. If it’s not, it should be because it’s a human issue. Men have women in their lives that they care for too. It doesn’t have to be at the top of the list, but it should be there somewhere.

  5. “Savita went into septic shock and died, apparently from the fetus being left too long because it still had a heartbeat. Per Irish law, a pregnancy cannot be terminated if the fetus still has a heartbeat.”

    That is not quite right. The Irish Medical Council guidelines state:

    “Abortion is illegal in Ireland except where there is a real and
    substantial risk to the life (as distinct from the health) of the
    mother.” 21.1 – Irish Medical Council

    If that sounds vague, that is because it is. Many doctors have been saying to the media in these few weeks how difficult it is for them to judge what this means. There are various other reasons why Irish Governments have failed to clarify until now. (This article provides a good summary: But reason number one for legislative failure is legislative cowardice.

  6. GirlGlad4theGMP says:

    I don’t think there’s an (intelligent) soul in the world who would blame him. Even pro-lifers can’t deny that a staunchly anti-abortion stance can, and has, resulted in the worst-case scenario.
    Thoughts and prayers to him and the family, this is a horrible tragedy.

    • Even pro-lifers can’t deny that a staunchly anti-abortion stance can, and has, resulted in the worst-case scenario.

      That is not correct – and plays along with the abuse that has come form facts and reality being twisted or worst still ignored around this case. Playing politics with personal tragedy is just about as low as you can get! Good Men don’t do that! It’s a matter of integrity – old fashioned – but very valid!


  1. […] Video: Man Whose Wife Died From Being Denied an Abortion Speaks Out /* post_widget("#but1"); Filed Under: Good Feed Blog Tagged With: abortion, abortion rates, CNN, Guttmacher Institute, ireland's minister of health, irish cabinet, irish supreme court, james reilly, Kathryn DeHoyos, reproductive rights, Savita Halappanavar, suicide, women's rights About Kathryn DeHoyosKathryn DeHoyos currently resides on the outskirts of Austin, TX. She is the News Editor for the Good Feed Blog and absolutely loves what she does. She is the happy mommy to a wild 2 year old girl-child, and is blissfully happy being un-married to her life partner DJ. […]

  2. […] husband was left asking, When they knew the baby was not going to survive, why not think about the bigger life which was […]

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