It’s been 12 days since Praveen Halappanavar, 34, arrived in Belgaum to lay to rest his 31-year-old wife Savita Halappanavar, who died in a hospital in Ireland on October 28 due to alleged medical negligence stemming from the country’s Catholic belief-based opposition to terminations of pregnancies.
Happy memories from his four-and-a-half-year-old marriage to Savita flash across his mind often, but it is the last week that she spent in hospital — shattered by miscarriage, yet hopeful of having another chance of bearing a child — that haunts Praveen the most.
The worldwide uproar over the last two days around Savita’s death at the University Hospital in Galway has inspired Praveen to join the fight to overthrow the blanket ban on pregnancy termination in Ireland. “I plan to go back to Galway...I will join the movement in Ireland to change the law. All my friends want me to be part of the movement to change the law,’’ Praveen said in a telephone conversation on Thursday.
For Praveen, who works as an engineer for Boston Scientific in Galway town, the happenings surrounding his wife’s illness, their requests for termination of pregnancy and Savita’s death, between October 22 and October 28, are still hard to believe. “I never knew that there could be such an issue with pregnancy in Ireland,” Praveen said.
It took all of 15 days for news of Savita’s death due to the laws in Ireland to leak out, he pointed out. The divisions that have run through Irish society on account of Catholic and Protestant beliefs and the history of conflict on these and other lines were things he was not aware of. “The Irish Times was the first one to report it two days ago. Until then nothing had shaken them. Things leaked out of the hospital slowly. Galway is a small town. If it had been Dublin it would have been a different case. Even the likes of the Indian Embassy did not bother,” he said.
According to Praveen, the coroner’s report on his wife’s death indicates that it was caused by septicemia or blood poisoning but how septicemia occurred remains unexplained. Among his priorities is to find out the medical process that led to Savita’s death and to play a role in the process to try and change abortion laws in Ireland.
The last few days of Savita’s life are vivid before his eyes. “She had already picked a name and was very confident that it was going to be a girl...Her parents are still in shock. They cannot believe that she is not with us. Her father was very dear to her. I always thought that she will fight and overcome at least for the sake of her father,” Praveen said.