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Ray D’Arcy interview about vasectomies and abortion did not break broadcasting rules

The context of the RTÉ Radio One interview with Dr Andrew Rynne was noted by the BAI.

THE BROADCASTING AUTHORITY of Ireland (BAI) has rejected a complaint made against the Ray D’Arcy Show on RTÉ Radio One.

The woman complained about an interview carried with Dr Andrew Rynne, which included a discussion on vasectomies and abortion.

She claimed the presenter introduced the issue of abortion and the Eighth Amendment to the Irish Constitution into a discussion on vasectomies as part of the interview.

According to the BAI report on the case, she claimed this was an attempt by the presenter to “indoctrinate the listeners to what she describes as the abortion viewpoint and mindset”.

The complainant said the presenter failed to mention the benefits of not having an abortion. The complainant also states that the presenter allowed Dr Rynne to speak uninterrupted about his beliefs, which the complainant stated, included his personal opinion of the medical and psychological benefits of abortion.

She said that at no time did the presenter ask his interviewee if there could possibly be any disadvantages to abortion.

Repeal the Eighth

The complainant claimed that Dr Rynne suggested that if we don’t repeal the 8th Amendment we would have backstreet abortions and said no proof was provided to back up the assertion, which she said was “misleading”.

The complaint makes reference to the presenter leading the interview with a statement, saying: “We’ve come a long way.”

The woman said use of language like “reproductive rights” implied that killing a baby using what she describes as the most violent of methods should be a right and is progressive. The complainant believed this is the presenter’s personal opinion.

RTÉ responded to the woman who made the complaint by saying The Ray D’Arcy Show does not generally host debates and said Dr Rynne’s appearance on the show was a follow-on from an interview with two listeners to the show four weeks previously, during which they discussed the prospect of getting a vasectomy.

The broadcaster states that it would be “inconceivable in a life and times interview with Dr. Rynne to avoid his involvement in the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) and his interests in reproductive medicine”.

Central figure in 1983 debate

It states that he was a central figure during the debate in 1983 about the vote on the 8th Amendment to the Constitution.

The broadcaster states that Dr Rynne asserted, while speaking about this, that he was not a proponent of abortion, and spoke only about limited access to abortion.

RTÉ states that the issues explored by Dr Rynne were “undoubtedly of public interest”.

RTÉ told the BAI that while D’Arcy encouraged the interviewee to be forthcoming when recounting about his life’s work, he did not express partisan views.

The BAI rejected the complaint made, noting the “context of the interview”.

In terms of the editorial approach, the committee noted that the item focused on the personal history and reflections of the interviewee, including his reflections on issues in Irish society that had impacted on him, as well as his own contribution to debates in Irish society.

The committee did not agree with the complainant that inclusion and exploration of issues pertaining to abortion or the social and cultural developments in respect of reproductive rights, including the role of religion and religious institutions, were introduced by the presenter were evidence of a partisan position.

The right of free expression that should be afforded to contributors was also noted.

In this context, it was legitimate that the interviewee be permitted to set out his personal views on matters pertaining to reproductive rights in Ireland.

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