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Inquiry Required as Irish Times Says Abortion Case ‘Never Happened’

Life Institute - published on 09/03/13 - updated on 06/08/17

Life Institute has called upon the national newspaper to rectify its "shameful reporting"

The Life Institute has called on the Irish Times and the National Maternity Hospital to make public the result of any inquiries into the "shameful misreporting" by the Irish Times on abortion.

Following a week of controversy and corrections, the Irish Times has now removed their original story which claimed that an abortion had taken place in the maternity hospital under the new legislation. The paper now says that "the case described in the article did not happen". 

Now, underneath the same misleading headline 'First abortion carried out under new legislation', the Irish Times has written:

"On August 23rd, the HSE confirmed that the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Act, signed into law by the President on July 30th, 2013, had not yet commenced.

On August 31st, The Irish Times published the following correction:

"On August 23rd last, under a story headlined 'First abortion carried out under new legislation', we reported on a purported clinical case at the National Maternity Hospital. The hospital has pointed out that the case described in the article did not happen. The Irish Times accepts this and apologises unreservedly to the hospital for any distress caused.

The National Maternity Hospital has welcomed the correction and apology, accepts that the article was published by The Irish Times in good faith, believes the matter is now concluded and wishes to make no further comment."

Niamh Uí Bhriain of the Life Institute said that the statement was "absolutely extraordinary" and that the public deserved to know what caused such shameful misreporting. She also called on the Irish Times to ensure that the global media who had carried the false story were aware of the error and retraction.

"This mealy-mouthed apology leaves the public with even more unanswered questions," she said. "Clearly, no-one wants to cause any more hurt to this mother, but the Irish Times needs to explain how it came to write this incorrect report in the first instance and the National Maternity Hospital needs to hold an inquiry into how this breach of confidentiality came about."

"It's time the Irish Times called a halt to its misreporting on abortion, and stopped hurting mothers who have lost their babies because an intervention was required," she added.

As the Life Institute pointed out on the day the story was printed:

  1. The new legislation had not yet commenced – a fact which was confirmed by the Health Service Executive the same day, and now acknowledged by the Irish Times.
  2. The hospital confirmed that the intervention being reported was a life-saving treatment which had been permitted and was carried out before the legislation had been written: ie under Ireland's pro-life laws.
  3. Life-saving medical interventions are not abortions, since no attempt is made to deliberately end the life of the baby or babies. The details of the case also underlined the falsity of claims previously made alleging that doctors were hampered by Ireland's pro-life ethos in saving mothers where sepsis was likely during  miscarriage.
  4. The Irish Times breached the confidentiality of the mother involved in this tragic case, and was causing huge hurt to mothers who had lost their children because life-saving interventions were required.

Originally published at Life Institute on 2 September 2013. Used with permission. All other rights reserved. 

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