Reporter who broke Savita story admits: there may have been no request for a ‘termination’
DUBLIN, December 3, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Kitty Holland, the Irish Times reporter who broke the story about the death of Savita Halappanavar that launched a global crusade against Ireland’s pro-life laws, has admitted that the story of Mrs. Halappanavar asking for an abortion may have been a little bit “muddled” in the retelling, and there may have been no such request after all.
In an interview this weekend on Newstalk 106, Holland appeared flustered and defensive, deflecting blame for the uproar onto Mrs. Halappanavar’s husband, Praveen. When radio interviewer Marc Coleman of Newstalk 106, asked her, “You’re satisfied that he did request a termination?” Holland responded, “Oh, I’m not satisfied of anything.”
“I’m satisfied of what he told me,” she said, “but I await as much as anyone else the inquiry and the findings. I can’t tell for certain. Who knows what will come out in that inquiry? They may come back and say she came in with a disease she caught from something outside the hospital before she even arrived in, and there was no request for termination.”
Covering, Holland added, “One may even wonder are requests for terminations recorded at all in Irish maternity hospitals.”
Asked about discrepancies in the reports on the timeline of Mrs. Halappanavar’s care – particularly when, exactly, she started receiving antibiotics after her admittance to hospital – Holland replied, “All one can surmise is that his recollection of events is…the actual timeline… may be a little muddled.” She said that “at one point” Mr. Halappanavar told her that she was only given painkillers, and never received any antibiotics.
Holland later told the state broadcaster RTE that her coverage in the Irish Times “never suggested” that an abortion might have saved Mrs. Halappanavar’s life.
Coleman also queried Holland about discrepancies in her Times report compared to her later reporting in the Observer. After her initial article in the Irish Times on November 14th, Holland three days later wrote in the Observer the disclaimer, “The fact that Savita had been refused a termination was a factor in her death has yet to be established”.
Coleman asked her why that sentence was included in the Observer but not in her original article for the Times. Holland responded, stammering, “Well, I suppose throughout the original article …umm… I mean it was quoting the concerns of the husband, Praveen. And, at no point … I mean … there was … you know it was hinted at in the headline, which obviously I didn’t write. You know, ‘refused a termination’ was in quotes. Umm, but you know I was reporting the concerns of the husband, and what he said he was concerned about and what he said happened in the hospital.
“Whereas my piece in the Observer was a more kind of background piece from my point of view, so it was obviously important for me to say quite explicitly that, you know, it has not been established that a lack of access to a termination…”
Coleman also mentioned to Holland that there are a lot of concerns about the “contrast” between the November 14th report and her later reporting. “It did travel around the world very quickly, the assumption that this woman had died precisely because of a lack of termination,” he said.
“Well, I mean, what I wrote were the concerns of the husband,” she responded, “and I suppose what readers took … decided to infer from that is … what the concerns were of the husband and what he stated happened from his recollection of events in the hospital.”
“The fact that a healthy… as far as we know… healthy 31 year-old woman who was 17 weeks pregnant entered a hospital in 21st century Ireland and was dead a week later is a tragic story anyway, and would have been a big story anyway. A maternal death is very rare.”
She continued to reiterate that she was reporting “the husband’s recollection or take on the events, and the concerns that he was wanting to talk about that took it off around the world.”
Coleman noted that hospital records of Mrs. Halappanavar’s care contain notes of requests for “tea and toast and many other things, but they contain no request for a termination.”
“Again we only have Praveen and his solicitor’s take on what was in or not in the notes,” Holland responded. “So, we’re relying all the time on their take on what happened.”
“I don’t know. That’s a huge gap and if that is the case … that a termination was requested and Praveen says there were witnesses to these requests, that will all come out in the inquiry,” Holland said. If the inquiry finds there are no notes recording the Halappanavars’ request for an abortion, “it’s obviously a huge gap”.
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Within hours of the publication online of the Times report, the worldwide media responded with a frenzy of coverage, running sensationalistic headlines blaming Ireland’s pro-life laws for her death. Since then, abortion campaigners around the globe have concentrated their forces on demanding that the Irish Republic, one of a tiny handful of western nations that still protects unborn children in the womb, institute legalized abortion on demand.
The hospital and the government have launched investigations, but Mrs. Halappanavar’s husband and family have refused to allow Savita’s medical records to be made public. He has now announced that he intends to sue the Irish government in the European Court of Human Rights after Irish Health Minister refused his demand for a public inquiry.
Pro-life advocates in Ireland, who have been fighting the mainstream media’s misrepresentation of the case and its use by the international abortion lobby, have called Holland’s admission “extraordinary”. Niamh Ui Bhriain, head of the Life Institute, called the affair “the most cynical and deplorable exploitation of a tragedy that I have ever witnessed in my lifetime”.
She noted that Holland was careful during her interview to emphasize that the facts were not known and that it was not certain that an abortion may not have requested.
“Yet no such caution was exercised in her original Irish Times report where it was suggested to the world that an Irish hospital had allowed a mother to die because a Catholic ethos supposedly wouldn’t allow an abortion,” Ui Bhriain told LifeSiteNews.com.
“Journalists have a responsibility to ensure that the reader understands when matters are factual and when they are uncorroborated. Yet the Irish Times tossed that responsibility aside in order to force abortion into the centre of this tragic case concerning a miscarriage and septicaemia.”
“As leading medical experts have pointed this case had very little to do with abortion, yet the headlines around the world became more lurid by the moment,” she added.
Ui Bhriain noted that in her Observer article, Holland “clearly understood the global importance of the story”.
“That makes the sensationalist headline and the reporting in the previous article in the Irish Times reprehensible in my view,” she said.
Ui Bhriain has previously blasted the media coverage for besmirching Ireland’s good reputation. A recent report from the World Health Organisation said the country has the second highest rating for maternal health in the world, with its pro-life laws intact.
Meanwhile, RTE reports that Ireland’s Minister for Transport, Leo Varadkar, has said that legislation that proposes to legalize abortion could turn out to be unconstitutional and may result in a referendum. Although the government has no plans for a referendum, he said that one may be unavoidable. Ireland’s pro-life law is embedded in the Constitution, which can only be changed through a public plebiscite. Pro-abortion advocates have long attempted to bypass this outcome by working to change the law through court cases, particularly that of the A,B and C case at the European Court of Human Rights.
Listen to the full interview here (starts at 33:20)
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To express concerns to the Irish Times