herald

Saturday 25 October 2014

Cabinet's three-day deadline over Savita probe as legal battle looms

THE Government has been given three days to agree to an independent public inquiry into Savita Halappanavar's death or face a European Court of Human Rights battle.

The theat of court action came as the Government faced renewed pressure to legislate for abortion in limited circumstances.

The Cabinet meets tomorrow to consider a report by an expert group on abortion.

The report says legislation consistent with the Supreme Court ruling on the X case is needed and this should be followed by ministerial regulations.

Separately, the deadline for action on an independent public inquiry into Savita Halappanavar's death will be given to Health Minister James Reilly.

Praveen Halappanavar's solicitor, Gerard O'Donnell said the move will be made to stop Government "pushing the boat out" on the inquiry issue.

His client has consistently sought the inquiry as he has "no faith" in the HSE investigation, Mr O'Donnell said.

Mr Halappanavar has also rejected the Health Information and Quality Authority inquiry, which was launched on Friday.

If an independent inquiry is not set up, as the Government has heavily suggested, Mr Halappanavar has said he will take a case to the European Court of Human Rights. The expert group's report on abortion was commissioned before the death of Savita Halappanavar in University Hospital Galway in October.

Heartbeat

Her husband has said doctors refused a termination when she was miscarrying because a foetal heartbeat was still present.

The expert group's report says women who have been refused abortions should have access to an appeals process to seek a review.

Particular centres where terminations can take place should be specified, the report said.

The report, by a group of medical and legal experts, says abortions can take place only when risk to the life of the mother could be averted by terminating a pregnancy.

mlavery@herald.ie

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