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Saturday 23 September 2017

Editor under pressure to explain article on abortion

Holles Street Maternity Hospital
Holles Street Maternity Hospital

Eilish O'Regan Health Correspondent

THE editor of 'The Irish Times' has been called on to explain how the newspaper published an account of an abortion which the National Maternity Hospital in Dublin says did not happen.

Editor Kevin O'Sullivan was asked to answer why it published the story on August 23 – which claimed a pregnant woman with twins had to have a termination to save her life.

The call was made by Dublin solicitor Simon McGarr, a media commentator, following the front page story in the newspaper giving precise details of the termination which was supposed to have taken place in the National Maternity Hospital, Holles Street.

The newspaper initially defended the publication in the public interest, saying it was the first to take place under the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act.

However, it later emerged that this legislation is not yet active. And it was revealed in recent days that an abortion referred to in the article did not take place as described by the newspaper.

Mr McGarr described an apology and correction published on an inside page in 'The Irish Times' last Saturday as "cryptic".

He said it should have been given more prominence, given that the original story was on the front page.

"It should have been given due prominence in one of the first four pages of the newspaper," he added, saying this was in keeping with the obligations on newspapers.

"It is now incumbent on the newspaper to explain how this happened," he added.

The publication of such detail about a patient, even if it was true, was not in the public interest, he said.

"The public interest defence could not apply in this case," he insisted. The hospital has pointed out that the case as outlined in the article did not happen.

A spokesperson for 'The Irish Times' editor Mr O' Sullivan yesterday said he would be making no further comment beyond the correction and apology which was printed in Saturday's edition.

Irish Independent

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