DUBLIN -- India's ambassador here has agreed to ask Prime Minister Enda Kenny of Ireland for an independent inquiry into the death of an Indian-born woman last month after doctors refused to perform an abortion when she was having a miscarriage, the lawyer representing the woman's husband said Thursday.
The lawyer, Gerard O'Donnell, also said crucial information was missing from the files he had received from the Irish Health Service Executive about the death of the woman, Savita Halappanavar, including any mention of her requests for an abortion after she learned that the fetus would not survive.
The death of Dr. Halappanavar, 31, a dentist who lived near Galway, has focused global attention on the Irish ban on abortion.
Her husband, Praveen Halappanavar, has refused to cooperate with an investigation being conducted by the Irish health agency. "I have seen the way my wife was treated in the hospital, so I have no confidence that the H.S.E. will do justice," he said in an interview on Wednesday night on RTE, the state television broadcaster. "Basically, I don't have any confidence in the H.S.E."
In a tense debate in the Irish Parliament on Wednesday evening, Robert Dowds of the Labour Party said Dr. Halappanavar's death had forced politicians "to confront an issue we have dodged for much too long," partly because so many Irish women travel to Britain for abortions.
"The reality is that if Britain wasn't on our doorstep, we would have had to introduce abortion legislation years ago to avoid women dying in back-street abortions," he said.
After the debate, the Parliament voted 88 to 53 against a motion introduced by the opposition Sinn Fein party calling on the government to allow abortions when women's lives are in danger and to protect doctors who perform such procedures.
The Irish president, Michael D. Higgins -- who is restricted by the Constitution from getting involved in political matters -- also made a rare foray into a political debate on Wednesday, saying any inquiry must meet the needs of the Halappanavar family as well as the government.
In 1992, the Irish Supreme Court interpreted the current law to mean that abortion should be allowed in circumstances where there was "a real and substantial risk to the life of the mother," including the threat of suicide. But that ruling has never been codified into law.
"The current situation is like a sword of Damocles hanging over us," Dr. Peter Boylan, of the Irish Institute of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, told RTE last week. "If we do something with a good intention, but it turns out to be illegal, the consequences are extremely serious for medical practitioners."
Dr. Ruth Cullen, who has campaigned against abortion, said that any legislation to codify the Supreme Court ruling would be tantamount to allowing abortion on demand and that Dr. Halappanavar's death should not be used to make that change.
Dr. Halappanavar contracted a bacterial blood infection, septicemia, and died Oct. 28, a week after she was admitted to Galway University Hospital with severe back pains. She was 17 weeks pregnant but having a miscarriage and was told that the fetus -- a girl -- would not survive. Her husband said she asked several times for an abortion but was informed that under Irish law it would be illegal while there was a fetal heartbeat, because "this is a Catholic country."
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.