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.”
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
Holland later told the state broadcaster RTE that her coverage in the
Irish Times “never suggested” that an abortion might have saved Mrs.
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
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
“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
“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”.
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
“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)
To express concerns to the Irish offices of the National Union of Journalists:
To express concerns to the Irish Times