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Irish drop 3 doctors from probe into woman's death

Associated Press Modified: November 20, 2012 at 1:15 pm •  Published: November 20, 2012

The chairman of the probe, Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, said he hoped to have a face-to-face meeting with Halappanavar to persuade him to change his mind about talking to investigators because his testimony on his wife's care would be central to identifying problems.

Arulkumaran, a native Sri Lankan who practices and teaches at St. George's Hospital in London, is one of the world's leading authorities on fetal monitoring and maternal health.

The case has highlighted Ireland's failure to legislate in line with a two-decade-old Supreme Court judgment that women should receive abortions in cases where the pregnancy places their lives at risk. The court found this should be the only exception to Ireland's constitutional ban on abortion.

In an interview with The Irish Times, Halappanavar said he doubted Ireland would have done anything public had he not spoken out.

He noted that he received zero communication from the hospital and Health Services Executive during the two weeks following his wife's death, when he returned her body to India for a Hindu funeral and cremation.

"It is a pity because I thought Ireland would care more for someone so young who died. That let me down. ... Maybe Savita was born to change the laws here," he told The Irish Times.

The European Court of Human Rights two years ago ruled that Ireland was placing pregnant women in jeopardy by not providing a clear law defining when life-saving abortions can be performed. Ireland has yet to reply substantively to that judgment.

The government insists it should not present any abortion legislation until after the Halappanavar investigation is completed in February. It vowed to block an opposition bill unveiled Tuesday seeking the parliament's immediate approval of the 1992 Supreme Court judgment.