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Doctor admits not reading chart in case that sparked plea for change in Irish abortion law

April 11, 2013

An Irish doctor has admitted that she never read “significant” notes about the medical condition of a pregnant woman whose death sparked calls for legalization of abortion in Ireland.

At an inquest into the death of Savita Halappanavar, Dr. Katherine Astbury conceded that she was unaware of a deterioration in the young woman’s physical condition, although the problem was recorded on her chart.

The woman’s husband has charged that Savita Halappanavar died because doctors refused to plea for an abortion that could have saved her life. Dr. Astbury told the inquest that if she had been aware of the woman’s condition she would have scheduled an abortion—which would have been legal under existing Irish law, if the doctor found the procedure medically necessary to save the mother’s life.


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