More half-truth deceit?

Ireland’s maternal mortality rate is twice as high as has been previously reported, new figures show.

Does this not give the impression that previously reported figures failed to report what they should have reported?

Irish tells us this on its Newsletter and does so with a very clear agenda – to promote the rush to abortion legislation in Ireland on the back of Savita Halappanavar’s death. But that story, as any honest reader knows, is not as simple as Irish’s editor, Niall Hunter, pretends. In a posted response to a reader who complained about his story, Hunter shows clearly where he is coming from – and where he wants to take us.

Rarely, he says, has a single health story so captivated the country as the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar. Having dodged the issue for 20 years, now the Dáil must act to legislate so that no more women should have to suffer as Savita did…

Neither are the statistics he uses in his story as straightforward as he, with sleight of hand, suggests they are.

He bases his story on the first report from the recently-established Maternal Death Enquiry – MDE – Ireland. That report, he says, shows that our maternal death rate is 8 per 100,000 births, compared with 4 per 100,000 reported by the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

A truthful presentation of this information would have said that on one set of criteria, statistics show what the CSO tells us; on a different set of criteria we get the MDE figure. Take your pick and argue the case for your chosen criteria – but do not say bluntly that the figure in question is twice as high as has been previously reported. That is – at best – a half-truth. At worst it is a deliberate attempt to deceive and mislead.

The MDE Ireland report, he tells us, which uses wider criteria for defining maternal death than that used by the CSO, found that in the years 2009 to 2011 inclusive, 25 mothers who attended maternity hospitals with their pregnancies died. Am I being over-suspicious in thinking that he is slipping this clause in under the radar: which uses wider criteria for defining maternal death than that used by the CSO? Given his agenda, I don’t think so.

The Irish report, he explains, adopted the more comprehensive British classification system for determining maternal death, and collated detailed data on mortality from hospitals. It classified two of the deaths in the period as being due to suicide. We are not told anything about those suicides or whether or not they were related directly to the pregnancies. This suggests more programming in favour of the forthcoming debate in which some will be trying to include threats of suicide as a pretext for signing off for abortions. More comprehensive”.  Does that always mean more accurate and informative?

We live in dangerous times when agencies claiming the respectability which Irish claims peddle this kind of propaganda.

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