The HIQA report does mention failure to terminate

Now I’m reading the relevant section of the full report [pdf]. That does mention abortion, though not (so far) under that name. It has a detailed timeline of events. She was admitted Sunday afternoon, and

Spontaneous rupture of membranes occurred at 00:30hrs.

At 8:30 that morning, she was reviewed by the consultant obstetrician in charge of her care.

Savita Halappanavar’s plan of care, following this consultant ward round, was that a fetal ultrasound scan would be taken with instructions to – ‘Await events’

That ✝goes to a footnote:

Await events refers to the conservative (expectant) management of miscarriage as opposed to the surgical or medical management of miscarriage.

So there it is. It’s somewhat obscured and secretive, but it’s there. They opted for expectant management instead of surgical or medical management – a surgical abortion or medical induction of labor.

Updated to add:

Then on the Wednesday morning, two days later, when her condition had deteriorated badly, a junior consulting doctor ordered IV antibiotics, but

however, at this time the evidence shows that her treatment plan was not changed.

Which, given what has gone before, means it was not changed from expectant to surgical or medical management. They went on watching instead of terminating the pregnancy.

At 13:00 that day

Diagnosis of septic shock, most likely secondary to chorioamnionitis was made.

A couple of hours later she delivered, but it was far too late.

It’s interesting – and disturbing – that the summary of the report omits the part about surgical or medical management as the alternative to expectant management.


  1. says

    It’s not surprising that the word “abortion” does not appear.
    The medical and the colloquial definitions of the term differ.
    For example, I had a miscarriage which is medically defined as “missed abortion”. That’s not when you’re late for your appointment, it’s when the embryo/fetus dies but your body doesn’t eject it.
    Then I had a D&E, which is one of the more common “abortion procedures”.
    Yet in the eyes of pro-lifers I didn’t have an abortion-abortion and I don’t get my evil feminazi babykiller card.
    They also think that I should be on their side because I should know so well how precious babies are…

  2. Pen says

    It’s gruesome. They sit there waiting for the inevitable death of the foetus. If it dies inside the mother before she does, will they act then? If it is over 24 weeks or so and has a chance of survival, then will they act, remove it, and care for it as best they can? If it emerges, dead or barely alive, then they will treat the mother? Is there any circucmstance in which it would have less chance of survival in an incubator (granted, that may be zero)?

  3. angharad says

    You know, quite aside from the medical risk, I can imagine that it’s pretty psychologically unpleasant to be told ‘sorry, but your baby is going to die and you get to sit around and wait for it to happen’. The degree of uncertainty alone is traumatic. I remember reading the account of a woman who (and this was some time ago) was told by her doctor at around 32 weeks that her baby had died in utero, and that all she could do was wait for the natural end. She actually ended up going to term – walking around for 7 weeks with a dead baby inside of her, knowing she was going to have to go through labour and childbirth to give birth to a dead baby. That would seriously mess with your head.

  4. says

    No, it doesn’t surprise me that the word “abortion” doesn’t appear. On the other hand using the less familiar medical terminology probably obscures what they’re saying for the lay public. But what obscures it much more is the failure to make more of it. I don’t know, maybe the meaning is so glaringly obvious to medical people that no one realized it was obscured by both the language and the brevity…but I kind of doubt it.

    And in the summary it’s not mentioned at all. The lay public is far more likely to read the summary.

  5. jenBPhillips says

    Giliell, I’m so sorry for your loss.

    Angharad–yes, it is flat-out torture to be forced to continue to carry a nonviable pregnancy; either a dead fetus or one that is technically still alive but with genetic or developmental problems that are incompatible with life. It amounts to the same thing in the end, although each situation has its own unique horrors. I am sickened to imagine the physical and emotional pain these women went through.

    Pregnancy physically (and in cases where the pregnancy is wanted, emotionally) connects a woman to another human life, and while a healthy lifestyle and regular OB visits can certainly contribute to the best possible outcome, a pregnant woman quickly realizes how little control she has over what’s actually happening inside her own body. It’s a uniquely scary kind of vulnerability, even when everything turns out well. I can only imagine the amplified feelings of helplessness and sorrow that would result from being forced to maintain a pregnancy that had no chance of success.

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