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Midwife in Ireland admits cautioning against abortion

April 11, 2013 at 2:34 PM

GALWAY, Ireland, April 11 (UPI) -- An Irish midwife admitted she told a woman, who later died of sepsis, she could not abort her terminally ill fetus because Ireland is a Catholic country.

At an inquest in Galway Thursday into the death of Savita Halappanavar, a native of India, midwife Ann Maria Burke said when Halappanavar experienced labor pains with her 17-week-old fetus and pleaded for a termination of the pregnancy, Burke advised her it was impossible in that Ireland is a "Catholic country" that forbids abortion.

Halappanavar died Oct. 27, 2012, from sepsis, which was not diagnosed by the hospital until after the fetus was delivered stillborn, the news website Irishcentral.com said Thursday.

"It was more to give information and to throw light on our culture than to be hurtful or insensitive," Burke said. "She [Halappanavar] had mentioned the Hindu faith, that this would happen and there would be no problem [obtaining an abortion], and I really had to say something."

The dead woman's husband, Praveen Halappanavar, expressed surprise and relief outside the court room, saying, "We never expected that. We thought she [Burke] would deny it. I was moved when she said that [the reference to "Catholic country"].

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