RTÉ’s shameful coverage of Savita’s story

The reports from the Coroner’s Inquest, the HSE and HIQA all established that the actual cause of Savita Halappanavar’s death was infection with a virulent anti-biotic resistant strain of E Coli compounded by a series of systems failures that delayed the realisation by the medical team of the gravity of the risk to her life, and the timely implementation of the appropriate responses to it.

As Sunday Independent columnist, Eilis O’Hanlon wrote after the Coroner’s Report into Savita’s death was released:

“That clearer understanding has freed us from the crippling version of this story that was initially presented to the country by the Irish Times, which sought to shape this woman’s tragic death into a rallying cry for a change to Ireland’s abortion laws. In a sense, they immediately dug the trenches and we all dutifully took our places on either side of the battlefield and began shooting at one another before we even had all the facts. That has been hugely damaging.”

RTÉ followed the line taken by the Irish Times, in effect channelling the public distress and concern at the death of Savita so that it reinforced the Government’s insistence that legislation for abortion in line with the X case ruling was necessary. It was repeatedly but falsely claimed that had such legislation been in place she would not have died. That view was not supported by the evidence that was uncovered by the three separate investigations that followed.

RTÉ knew from day one that the case was likely to have nothing to do with Ireland’s abortion laws. But that didn’t stop them from headlining with the story on the news day after day for five months with a completely false take on what actually happened. It’s frightening that RTÉ feels it can get away with this level of bias without any consequences. Unless people stand united and shout loudly that enough is enough, RTÉ will continue to present views dressed up as news to we the taxpayers who keep the station on the air.