The chair of the inquiry into the death of Savita Halappanavar has said the hands of a doctor should not be tied because of a legal situation.

Professor Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, former president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, told RTÉ's Morning Ireland that the Eighth Amendment played a major role in Ms Halappanavar's death and her life could have been saved, if doctors had acted before she went into septic shock.

Prof Arulkumaran said if doctors treating Ms Halappanavar had not been concerned with the foetal heartbeat, she would have been treated much earlier. 

He said he was happy that the Government had taken responsibility for the current situation and called the referendum so that the people of Ireland could see what was just and useful for women's health and lives.

Prof Arulkumaran said the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act does not give enough legal clarity explaining that "threat to life" is often difficult to diagnose on medical grounds.

He added that the law only allows for doctors to intervene is cases of threat of death but that women's health must also be considered, pointing out that even had Ms Halappanavar's life been saved, she could have faced serious health problems as a result of her treatment.

Women should not, he said, face further health problems because of failure to intervene.

Prof Arulkumaran was in Dublin today to speak of the harms of the Eighth Amendment and the importance of a Yes vote in the upcoming referendum at an Irish Family Planning Association press event.

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However, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist Dr Trevor Hayes, who is part of the Doctors for Life organisation that supports retaining the Eighth Amendment, says that the amendment did not cause the death of Ms Halappanavar.

Dr Hayes told Morning Ireland that doctors had an ethical duty to protect the life of the woman and unborn baby.

He said that all necessary treatment to save the life of the mother was permitted under the amendment, even if it results in the loss of life of a baby.

The law, he said, allowed him to recognise when there is risk to the mother and he does not have to "play medical roulette".

Dr Hayes said that he "doesn't worry about the Eighth Amendment" when he is practising obstetrics.

He said there were missed opportunities to treat Ms Halappanavar because the recognition of sepsis came too late.

This is why, he added, that he believed the amendment was not a cause in Ms Halappanavar's death and why it was worth protecting. 

Dr Hayes said women's healthcare could become a political football and he did not trust the Government.

Last few days of campaign 'crucial'

Meanwhile, Minister for Health Simon Harris has said he thinks the next few days of the referendum campaign will be crucial.

He said he hopes the last few days of the debate will be factual and will provide an opportunity for calm, respectful debate so people will have all of the facts, all the information and make an informed decision.

Mr Harris said he looked at changing the 14-year prison sentence, but it cannot be done because the amendment was an impediment to change.

A spokesperson for the LoveBoth campaign said a No vote in the referendum would only be the beginning and called for better financial support, adoption services and childcare for women, saying Irish women and families have been clearly let down by the State.

Also speaking on Morning Ireland, Katie Ascough said she does not believe the answer is to remove the right to life from every unborn child in Ireland.

She said the Eighth Amendment is there to acknowledge the right to life.

A spokesperson for the Together for Yes campaign said there has been "no significant increase" in the numbers of abortions in European countries where it has been legalised and regulated.

Speaking on the same programme, Síona Cahill said a Yes vote would regulate and provide the full healthcare support available to women who currently take abortion pills they have bought online.

Elsewhere, Solidarity/People Before Profit warned that if the referendum is rejected those involved with the No campaign will push for the laws around the Eighth Amendment to be implemented.

Ruth Coppinger said she believes there will be efforts by the No side to implement the 14-year jail sentence for abortions "to the letter" and she said the key question for voters on Friday was if they wanted "the clock turned back or forward".

Ms Coppinger said the No side want "to go back to the dark days of the 1950s when women were controlled".

She said a Yes vote was about "giving people a choice rather than a criminal record".

TD Bríd Smith said that by not providing abortion services in Ireland, Irish women were being forced to have later abortions.

She said if people wanted to be "humane to women and the unborn" that abortion services must be provided to women in their own country. 

Meanwhile, former Fine Gael minister Gemma Hussey, who was involved in the 1983 referendum campaign, said there have been so many attempts to put right what she described as the "damage" done in 1983.

Speaking at a Fine Gael women's event to call for a Yes vote in the referendum, she said nobody has ever succeeded in putting it right but that "now is our chance".

Ms Hussey said it was unfortunate that people did not listen to the warning of the late former attorney general Peter Sutherland, who said that the wording inserted into the constitution in 1983 had unknown consequences.

No campaigner interrupts cross-party event

A cross-party event to call for a Yes vote in Friday's referendum has been interrupted by a No campaigner.

Tim Jackson, who was carrying a large microphone and accompanied by a cameraman, asked the Minister for Health Simon Harris and the Minister for Children Katherine Zappone if they would resign. 

He also asked the assembled TDs and senators if it was OK to use taxpayers money to kill human beings. 

A planned interview with the two ministers was cancelled in the wake of the incident. 

Earlier the event heard from a number of the more than 25 Oireachtas members who were in attendance who appealed to the public to vote Yes.