RTÉ ignores Marie Stopes scandal

In July 2013, the Irish Times broke a story about the death of a woman from Ireland shortly after undergoing an abortion at a Marie Stopes clinic in London. RTÉ covered the story on a few news bulletins before dropping it. How come RTÉ dropped the story so quickly? Why the colossal double standards in the way this story was treated compared to the Savita case?

For five months, RTÉ linked the Savita Halappanavar story to abortion before the full facts emerged in the case – facts which now show that Savita died as a result of a catalogue of medical errors and systems failures and not because of the absence of abortion in Ireland. Despite all this, RTÉ kept linking the story to abortion.

In the case of the Marie Stopes story, it was clear from the outset that the woman died as a result of the abortion at a Marie Stopes clinic. This being the case, surely RTÉ had a duty to apply the same standards it adopted with the Savita story? In this case that means pursuing Marie Stopes and the abortion industry for answers relating to the woman’s death. But instead of any questions, we have been treated to stunned silence from RTÉ and the absence of any journalistic curiosity over what went wrong.

One other thing – for the few hours RTÉ ran with the Marie Stopes abortion death story all the news reports mentioned that the woman had sought an abortion at a Dublin maternity hospital before travelling to England. This left listeners with the distinct impression that the woman was denied a life-saving treatment in Ireland and died as a result of the delay in having to travel to England. This as we know turned out to be untrue.

So it begs the question – did RTÉ drop the story when it realised that the woman died from the abortion and not a life-threatening condition? Is it possible that RTÉ didn’t want to embarrass the pro-choice side by keeping the story going? Such a charge may seem a little far-fetched until one considers the fact that RTÉ has NEVER broken a major story unfavourable to the pro-choice side.

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And of course, this is not the first Marie Stopes scandal that RTÉ has ignored. In December 2011, a Marie Stopes doctor, Dr Phanuel Dartey was struck off the General Medical Council in Britain for performing ‘a botched abortion’ on an Irish woman in its Ealing Clinic, the same clinic where the more recent tragedy occurred. Dr. Dartey had previously worked for the BPAS, a different abortion provider, and in 2001 a woman died after he performed a botched abortion there.

Separately, an English teenager died after undergoing an abortion at a Marie Stopes Clinic in Leeds in 2007. There are many other documented cases of women dying after abortions at Marie Stopes clinics in other countries.

RTÉ has not shown the slightest interest in reporting on any of these stories.