A senior midwife told an Indian woman her baby could not be terminated as she miscarried in an Irish hospital because “it’s a Catholic thing”, an inquest has heard.

Savita Halappanavar pleaded for her baby’s heartbeat to be stopped when medics at Galway University Hospital said the foetus could not be saved, her friend Mrudula Vasealli said. She told Galway Coroner’s Court: “She said, the midwife, ‘we do not do that here dear. It’s a Catholic thing’.

“The nurses were lovely, They took good care of her. It’s the system that was wrong.”

Mrs Halappanavar, 31, died from septicaemia on 28 October last year, a week after suffering a miscarriage at 17 weeks. Her husband Praveen Halappanavar previously told an inquest that his Hindu wife asked for a termination three times before she finally delivered her dead baby daughter.

Consultant obstetrician Katherine Astbury has denied refusing a termination on the grounds that it is “a Catholic country”.

The inquest continues.