Call for RTÉ apology after 'offensive' Late Late Show dummy birth scene

The segment has come in for critics by a campaign group for better maternity services

Lucina gives birth on the Late Late Show, RTE One

Eilish O'Regan

RTÉ has been asked to apologise after it was claimed offence was caused by a dummy from the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin giving birth on the Late Late show on Friday night.

AIMS Ireland (The Association for Improvements in the Maternity Services Ireland) along with its members said it is disappointed and dismayed at the "poor judgment" expressed by the Late Late Show editorial team for Friday’s segment on birth.

“As the representative body for maternity service users in Ireland, AIMS calls on RTÉ to apologise and also looks to the Broadcasting Authority to comment on the piece,” said a spokeswoman.

She said the piece on Friday night’s show in which a dummy, named Lucinda, was laid supine on a bed with her entire lower half exposed to the nation whilst she was told to “push into her bum” and “keep going” by a medical student in order to produce a fake baby out of her fake body.

“There are so many things wrong here it’s hard to know where to begin.

“But let us start with the recent coverage of birth trauma on RTE Radio’s Liveline programme.  In an unprecedented move, and due to the sheer volume of calls, Liveline aired the stories of people all over Ireland over seven days.

“Those who shared their stories were for once uninhibited, and given a voice to tell their experiences within the maternity services. We heard harrowing stories of lack of empathy, insensitivity, lack of evidence based care and in some cases obstetric violence.

"The empathy, kindness and respect shown by Joe Duffy and his team to these, in some cases, ‘broken’ women was highly commendable and heartening and many of the contributors noted this.

“Then, only weeks later, the same broadcaster, RTÉ, decides to depict this very same style of birth ‘management’ as ‘entertainment’ on a prime time entertainment show.

“Airing a piece like this without ANY regard to how this might affect women and their families who have had difficult maternity experiences demonstrates a complete wilful disregard for women in the most vulnerable of circumstances.

“It was an appalling error of judgement on the part of the editorial team,” she said.

AIMS chair Krysia Lynch said that it reinforces the notion that birth is “done to women” and that they are not active participants in their own birth experiences.

“Airing this vignette on national television on one of the most watched shows on public broadcasting in Ireland does the public a disservice," she said.

"It reinforces stereotypical imagery that birthing people should lie on their backs (something research has told us is not good for mother or baby) and should be coached into holding their breath and forced pushing (again something research has told us is not the best option for mother or baby)."

RTÉ declined to comment on the AIMS statement.