29/11/2012 14:20 GMT | Updated 29/11/2012 20:47 GMT

Savita Halappanavar Abortion Row: Call For Public Inquiry To Be Taken To European Court of Human Rights

Calls for a public inquiry into the death of a woman in Ireland after being refused an abortion are being taken to the European Court of Human Rights.

The husband of Indian dentist Savita Halappanavar has instructed lawyers to bring a case to Strasbourg over the death of his wife in Galway University Hospital in October.


Savita Halappanavar, 31, was 17 weeks pregnant when she died at Galway University Hospital

Praveen Halappanavar's solicitor Gerard O'Donnell said the case would be taken under article two of the European Convention of Human Rights.

Under article two a person is entitled to an inquiry that is independent, effective, prompt and open to public scrutiny. They are usually carried out when there is a State connection to a death, as in a hospital or in custody.

Mr O'Donnell said: "The difficulty is that we are seeking a public inquiry and the European court will of course wonder have we exhausted remedies here in Ireland first," he said.

Praveen Halappanavar has reiterated his refusal to co-operate with an internal clinical inquiry set up by the Health Service Executive (HSE) into his wife's death. He will also not work with an independent watchdog inquiry by the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa).

It is understood that if the court agrees to hear arguments, it would be the first case of its kind against the Irish government.

Ms Halappanavar, 31, died on October 28, 17 weeks into her pregnancy.

She miscarried and subsequently suffered septicaemia, and her husband claims that doctors refused to carry out an abortion because a foetal heartbeat was present. He says they were told Ireland "is a Catholic country".

An inquest will be held in Galway.

The controversy has reignited divisive debates on abortion in Ireland with the government committed to reforming a limited ban in certain circumstances where there is a risk to the mother's life.