A woman has died in an Irish hospital after she was refused an abortion.

Savita Halappanavar, a dentist aged 31, was 17 weeks pregnant when she died after suffering a miscarriage and septicaemia.

The woman's husband Praveen Halappanavar, 34, claimed she had complained of being in agonising pain while in Galway University Hospital.

Mr Halappanavar insisted several requests by his late wife for a termination were met with the answer: "This is a Catholic country."

Her husband told the Irish Times that his late wife [a Hindu] responded: "I am neither Irish nor Catholic" but they refused to carry out a medical termination because the foetus's heartbeat was present.

She was forced to spend a further 2½ days “in agony” until the foetal heartbeat stopped, reported the Irish Times.

ON THE BLOG: 'We Shouldn't Need Martyrs for Abortion Reform in Ireland'

Mrs Halappanavar, understood to be from India but who had been living in Ireland, died after developing septicaemia - an infection in the blood - on October 28.

The woman's death is expected to spark a backlash against the Irish Government for failing to reform health laws to allow abortion if the life of the mother is in danger.

A protest has been planned for the front of the Dail parliament this evening, with a sister demonstration planned outside the Irish Embassy in London in solidarity with Savita and the Irish pro-choice movement.

Left-wing TDs Clare Daly and Joan Collins described the woman's death as an outrage.

They criticised the government for failing to adopt their X Case Bill earlier this year, which would have introduced new laws to allow an abortion in specific life-threatening circumstances.

Ms Daly said: "A woman has died because Galway University Hospital refused to perform an abortion needed to prevent serious risk to her life.

"This is a situation we were told would never arise. An unviable foetus - the woman was having a miscarriage - was given priority over the woman's life, who unfortunately and predictably developed septicaemia and died."

On Facebook some pro-choice campaigners have changed their profile picture to that of Savita Halappanavar in protest against the Irish government.

Twitter users have also reacted with vehemance to her story, with clashes between pro-choice and pro-life campaigners witnessed on the social networking site.


Dara O Briain
For those in Dublin shocked by this RT : There's a protest tonight at the Dáil from 6pm.


Naomi Mc
When you ban or severely restrict abortion, women die. This must be a turning point for Ireland.


Steve Zara
Islam accepts that abortion where the life of the mother is threatened by the pregnancy is justified. So, which faith is the more barbaric?


Jack of Kent
Dreadful report about Irish woman who died after being denied an abortion: The law in Ireland must change after this?

Investigations into Mrs Halappanavar's death have been launched by the Galway-Roscommon University Hospitals Group and the state's health officials.

It is expected the hospital's investigation will be complete within three months and Mrs Halappanavar's family will be interviewed as part of the review.

A spokesman for the hospital said: "The Galway Roscommon University Hospitals Group wishes to extend its sympathy to the husband, family and friends of Ms Halappanavar."

The spokesman added that the hospital was waiting to consult Mrs Halappanavar's family on the terms of reference before beginning the review.

In a statement, the Department of Health offered condolences to the family, adding: "There are currently two investigations under way and the department is awaiting the completion of these investigations before commenting further."

Abortion in the Republic of Ireland is illegal unless it occurs as the result of a medical intervention performed to save the life of the mother.

Ireland's first ever private abortion clinic opened in Belfast, Northern Ireland earlier in October amid widespread protests from pro-life campaigners.

The Marie Stopes clinic which is headed by former Progressive Unionist Party MLA Dawn Purvis, is to operate within the current legal framework, providing medical not surgical terminations up to nine weeks' gestation with aftercare including counselling.

The abortion debate is heating up in Ireland with several hundred people attended a pro-choice rally in Belfast city centre only three days ago after the Marie Stopes clinic opened.

They were addressed at the front of the City Hall by speakers calling for the extension of the 1967 Abortion Act to NI.