DUBLIN, November 20, 2012 ( – The new head of a government-appointed inquiry into the death of Savita Halappanavar has said that countries with restrictive abortion laws need to be “challenged” to reconsider legalization. While the international abortion lobby, mainstream media, and abortion campaigners in parliament and at the EU are clamoring for Ireland to immediately pass legislation legalizing abortion, the Health Services Executive announced today that Professor Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, the head of obstetrics and gynecology at St Georges Hospital, will lead the investigation into the circumstances surrounding Mrs. Halappanavar’s death.

Professor Arulkumaran is the president-elect of the abortion advocacy group International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO). He authored a statement on the “rights-based approach” to childbirth, published in 2009 in the International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, in which he said that countries with “restrictive abortion laws” should “look at the evidence available in favor of liberal abortions laws and debate the possibility of making the choice of termination of pregnancy a legal right for women.”

“In the same breath, it is important to stress that wherever there is a liberal law on termination of pregnancy, the provision of safe and comprehensive abortion care is paramount to a successful reduction in maternal morbidity and mortality as a result of the complications of abortion,” he said.

The country’s leading pro-life advocates have expressed “serious concerns” about the appointment, calling it a “grave error” that compromises the credibility of the inquiry. Given the huge public interest and pressure from the abortion lobby, they said, the inquiry must take care to avoid all possible appearance of having a political agenda.



Niamh Uí Bhriain of the Life Institute said that the government must immediately move to replace Dr. Arulkumaran to ensure a fair investigation. “It is difficult to see how that can be achieved by appointing someone to lead the team who has clear bias in favour of abortion,” she said.

FIGO is a major player in the international abortion movement. It includes representatives of every international abortion group, including International Planned Parenthood and the UNFPA, on its Committee for Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Rights. The US-based Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues described FIGO as supporting a “radically pro-abortion agenda” in the 124 countries in which it operates.

Six other members of the team investigating Savita Halappanavar’s death include experts in anesthesia, midwifery, obstetrics and gynecology, who will review the care provided to Mrs. Halappanavar and submit a report to the Dail. HSE’s National Director of Quality and Patient Safety, Dr Philip Crowley, told a press conference today that with the appointment of Dr. Arulkumaran, “we will have a thorough, independent, and expeditious review of the facts surrounding the tragic death of Mrs. Halappanavar.”

Health Minister Dr. James Reilly said that major concern for the government in appointing the inquiry was to ensure the appearance of objectivity and independence from the government.

Dr. Reilly also told media that the long awaited report from the government’s expert group examining the country’s abortion law would be brought to the Cabinet today, but said that it will not be until early in the new year that any decisions are made. He told RTE radio, the national broadcaster, that it would be a “derogation of duty” not to deal with the abortion law, saying that every woman has a right to have “legal clarity regarding treatment available to her.”

“I have read the report and I need to study it further. It’s a hugely complex issue that has divided the country… and we’re not going to solve it in a matter of weeks,” he said. Meanwhile, the government has received a letter signed by 50 Members of the European Parliament demanding that Ireland legislate on abortion.

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