Ireland's government-funded Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) watchdog organization has announced that they're launching an investigation into the death of Savita Halappanavar, the 31-year-old dentist who was denied an abortion after doctors informed her that she would miscarry but could not remove the fetus until its heartbeat officially stopped. Two and a half days later, it did—but it was also too late for Halappanavarm, who was was rushed to University Hospital Galway and died of septicaemia and E.coli ESBL shortly after.
However, the inquiry is (understandably) unlikely to placate her husband, Praveen Halappanavar, who believes that HIQA's findings won't be neutral and blames the two-day timelapse and pregnancy termination refusal for his wife's blood poisoning. As the solicitor representing Mr. Halappanvar puts it, "My client has always made his position very clear... He wants a public inquiry. He has made it clear he wants to get to the truth of the matter, so I don't think that the framework of HIQA will suffice."
If there's any silver lining to this tragedy, it's that the 20-year debate and confusion over abortion in Ireland may finally come to a head. Irish law isn't clear precisely on when the threat to the mother's life is enough to justify an abortion, so it's largely left up to the subjectivity of individual doctors (and, of course, their own personal beliefs). Halappanavar and his legal team hope to submit their case to the European Court of Human Rights, who took on Ireland's abortion ban back in 2010.
A 10,000-strong protest marched in Dublin last Saturday in response to Halappanavar's death and held a candlelight vigil outside the office of Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny.