Pro Life Campaign says Guidelines urgently needed regarding treatment of mothers in pregnancy, following reports on Savita Halappanavar case

13th February 2013

Responding to today’s leaked extracts of the draft HSE inquiry into the Savita Halappanavar case, the Pro Life Campaign called for the “urgent introduction of Guidelines regarding treatment of mothers in pregnancy.”

Commenting on the leaked extracts of the report, Dr Berry Kiely of the Pro Life Campaign said: “Assuming the media reports are accurate and reliable, a picture is emerging of a tragic series of missed warning signs that should have alerted doctors to the fact that Ms Halappanavar was suffering from an infection posing a substantial risk to her life, a condition that was treatable, but necessitated urgent intervention.”

Dr Kiely said: “The story is made all the sadder in the light of the unanimous evidence from the obstetricians speaking at the recent Oireachtas Hearings that they always intervene to expedite the delivery of the baby where they see a risk to the life of the mother.  

“It is striking that the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in the UK issued a new set of Guidelines on sepsis in pregnancy last year, following a 2008 report showing sepsis was the single largest cause of death for women in pregnancy.

“Rather than proceeding with legislation for abortion, the Government should ensure that Guidelines are drawn up, for example, by the Irish Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, on the recognition and management of sepsis in pregnancy, which seems to have been the key issue in this sad case.

Dr Kiely said that “those pushing for abortion legislation based on the X case ruling are ignoring the crucial ethical distinction between necessary life saving interventions in pregnancy and induced abortion, where the sole purpose of the intervention is to end the life of the baby. The obstetricians who gave evidence at the recent Oireacthas Hearings made it clear that they always intervene to save the life of the mother but in doing so do not target the life of the baby. It is shameful the way some people, including some senior members of Government, are using the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar to open the door to an abortion regime in Ireland.”

Download the Pro Life Campaign's latest briefing document on why Guidelines, not legislation are the way forward here