The Irish Times has ‘revealed’ that Senator Catherine Noone has made the bizarre claim that the Oireachtas Abortion Committee searched for a medical expert to defend the eighth amendment and could not find one, a claim the Save the 8th campaign have said is typical of fake news around the referendum.
A quick google (google is an internet search service that we believe should be made readily available in several Irish media offices) shows that not it would have been easy for Senator Noone to find doctors who wished to retain the 8th.
As commentator Gary Kavanagh noted on Twitter, there were dozens of medical experts who had already put their names to public statements to retain the 8th.
In 2013, a group of Obstericians wrote to the Chairman of the Joint Committee on Health and Children at the time, pointing out the imbalance on previous hearings on abortion.
As Deputy Billy Timmins told the Dáil, they said:
"We the undersigned obstetrician/gynaecologists see no obstetrical advantage in changing the current law on abortion. We are concerned that legal intervention could interfere with Irish obstetricians being able to treat pregnant women to the best of their ability."
It was signed by 11 Consultant Obstetricians
Then there is also Doctors for Life Ireland, which represents dozens of Irish GPs, obstetricians, and other medical practitioners, and who had delivered a written submission, and an oral presentation, to the Citizens Assembly.
These are available here:
Senator Noone’s claim that she could find no medical experts to defend the 8th amendment can only fairly be interpreted in one of two ways:
It is possible Senator Noone, panicking in response to recent polls, has told an ill-advised and easily disprovable untruth, which was innocently unnoticed by those media organisations that uncritically reported it.
It is possible Senator Noone genuinely did not know that there were medics out there who would offer a contrary position, in which case one wonders how hard she looked.
In any case, Senator Noone’s claim raises serious questions about her command of the facts in this debate, and the coverage of Senator Noone’s claim raises serious questions about internet connectivity across the newsrooms of Dublin.