Tuesday, 4 December 2012
Cristina Odone writes:
The journalist who broke the story about Savita Halappananvar's tragic death now admits that the facts were "a little muddled".
In an astonishing radio interview, Kitty Holland of The Irish Times admits that her report was based on the husband's version of events, but that in fact there may have been "no request for a termination". Her earlier account stated that Mrs Halappananvar, an Indian in Ireland who was expecting a baby, had begged for a termination when complications arose with the birth; hospital staff denied her the abortion, allegedly saying: "This is a Catholic country".
Holland's exclusive tale of the tragic death made headlines around the world. Pro-abortion groups seized upon the story to condemn any review of abortion laws. Protesters chanting "Never again!" marched in Irish cities. Holland's report ensured that abortion was hailed as a life-saving operation; that it should be cruelly denied a young woman was further proof (if any were needed) that the Catholic Church was backward and barbarian.
Except that none of this may be quite as it seems. "I'm not satisfied of anything," Holland says in her radio interview. She maintains, perhaps a tad disingenuously, that Savita Halappananvar's death would have received the same kind of media attention even if it had not been linked to a termination. Yet she admits that Savita was only healthy "as far as we know" before going into the Galway University Hospital. In other words, the young woman might have been suffering from a fatal condition even before her hospital admission. But in their rush to make a pro-abortion point, journalists and editors did not check their facts.
What a tragedy – twice over: a young pregnant woman's premature death; and an account of that death that, if the facts are indeed muddled, does no justice to her memory.