From the BBC:
Savita Halappanavar's family said she asked several times for her pregnancy to be terminated because she had severe back pain and was miscarrying.
Her husband told the BBC that it was refused because there was a foetal heartbeat.
She had the great misfortune to be pregnant and in trouble with that pregnancy in a country that doesn't allow for abortion as long as there's a chance of saving the baby. There's supposed to be a contingency in the law for saving the life of the woman:
Abortion is illegal in the Republic except where there is a real and substantial risk to the life, as distinct from the health, of the mother.but that didn't work out too well in this case. Someone apparently decided that the 'risk' to the mother wasn't all that grave, so they played a waiting game until after the fetus died [I think it's safe to presume the fetus was in distress, since it did die] and then, too late, tried to save the woman.