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Irish PM to take it slowly

Nov. 17: Delhi has sought an “independent” probe into the death of a pregnant Indian who was refused termination despite a miscarriage, apparently because of Ireland’s anti-abortion laws. But the country’s Prime Minister said he wouldn’t be rushed into a decision on the issue of abortion itself.

“This is a matter that has divided Irish society now for a great number of years, and I am not going to be rushed into a situation by force of numbers on any side,” Prime Minister Enda Kenny told state broadcaster RTE yesterday.

Deputy Prime Minister and foreign minister Eamon Gilmore, however, indicated his government was sensitive to the impact of Savita Halappanavar’s death on public opinion and said the probe being conducted by the Health Services Executive would be assisted by an independent medical expert.

India’s envoy to Ireland Debashish Chakravarti had met Gilmore yesterday to convey Delhi’s “deep concern”. The envoy conveyed Delhi’s “desire” for an “independent” probe and “requested to be kept updated about (the) progress”, an official in India’s foreign ministry said.

Gilmore also said the “Irish side would work closely with the Indian mission and co-operate on all aspects”, the official added.

Yesterday, Delhi had summoned the Irish ambassador to convey its “concern and angst” over Savita’s death.

The 31-year-old dentist died last month in an Irish hospital where doctors, her husband said, refused to terminate her 17-week pregnancy, telling her “this is a Catholic country” and they could do nothing till there was foetal heartbeat.

The foetus was surgically removed when its heartbeat stopped days later, but her family believes the delay contributed to the blood poisoning that killed her on October 28. In Karnataka, Savita’s father had said the law in Ireland must be changed for the “larger interests” of everyone.

“This is something that has to be dealt with rationally, and openly and truthfully and that is what will happen,” Prime Minister Kenny said.