Savita Halappanavar inquest opens in Galway

Savita Halappanavar The coroner's inquest into the death of Savita Halappanavar opens on Friday

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A preliminary hearing at the inquest into the death of Indian-born dentist Savita Halappanavar at a hospital in the Irish Republic has concluded.

The 31-year-old, who was 17 weeks pregnant, died at University Hospital Galway last October following a miscarriage.

Her family said she had asked several times for an abortion before she died.

Her death sparked international protests and re-ignited the debate on the Irish Republic's abortion laws.

In his opening statement, the Galway West Coroner, Dr Ciaran MacLoughlin said it was his job to ensure the inquest would be "independent, prompt and effective".

He said his function was to ensure that the truth emerged and that all facts were investigated.

He expressed his sympathies to Mrs Halappanavar's husband, Praveen, on the death of his "beloved Savita".

Dr MacLoughlin said he wished to acknowledge the full co-operation of Mr Halappanavar and his legal team and that of the police, the Health Service Executive and their legal representatives.

Speaking ahead of the hearing, a solicitor for Mr Halappanavar said he hoped the inquest would "deliver the truth".

The inquest will resume on 8 April at Galway courthouse.

The inquest comes amid reports that a request by Savita Halappanavar for a termination of her pregnancy is recorded in the medical notes by the consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist who treated her before she died.

RTE News has said that the request was made within days of her admission to the hospital on 21 October.

The notes also indicate that it was not possible to comply with the request and that her life was not believed to have been at risk at the time.

Two separate inquiries are also under way into the case.

A clinical review is being carried out by Ireland's Health Service Executive and a statutory investigation is being conducted by the Health Information and Quality Authority.

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