RTÉ is receiving backlash after a segment on Friday’s Late Late Show which featured a plastic dummy named Lucina giving birth to a plastic baby live on air.
The segment featured Professor Fergal Malone, master of the Rotunda Hospital, along with tutor and specialist registrar at the RSCI’s department of obstetrics and gynaecology Catherine Finnegan and medical student Ciara Malone. The feature saw them simulate a birth on live television using a dummy mother and baby.
Lucina, our simulated birthing mannequin, gives RCSI med students the opportunity to build their clinical and communication skills before continuing their training in a real-life maternity hospital. #LateLate #SimEd @RTELateLateShow pic.twitter.com/N6weuZXEl4
— RCSI (@RCSI_Irl) May 10, 2019
AIMS Ireland (The Association for Improvements in the Maternity Services Ireland) has claimed that the segment was offensive and that they are disappointed in RTÉ producers’ “poor judgement”.
A spokesperson for AIMS Ireland said, “As the representative body for maternity service users in Ireland, AIMS calls on RTÉ to apologise and also looks to the Broadcasting Authority to comment on the piece.
“There are so many things wrong here it’s hard to know where to begin. But let us start with the recent coverage of birth trauma on RTE Radio’s Liveline programme. In an unprecedented move, and due to the sheer volume of calls, Liveline aired the stories of people all over Ireland over seven days.
“Those who shared their stories were for once uninhibited and given a voice to tell their experiences within the maternity services. We heard harrowing stories of lack of empathy, insensitivity, lack of evidence-based care and in some cases obstetric violence.
“The empathy, kindness and respect shown by Joe Duffy and his team to these, in some cases, ‘broken’ women was highly commendable and heartening and many of the contributors noted this.
“Then, only weeks later, the same broadcaster, RTÉ, decides to depict this very same style of birth ‘management’ as ‘entertainment’ on a prime time entertainment show.”
Last month, women who had suffered traumatic childbirths called into the Joe Duffy Show, prompting the HSE to apologise to women who “felt compelled to ring RTÉ to have their concerns heard.”
— Liveline (@rteliveline) April 4, 2019
The AIMS Ireland spokesperson went on to say, “Airing a piece like this without ANY regard to how this might affect women and their families who have had difficult maternity experiences demonstrates a complete willful disregard for women in the most vulnerable of circumstances.
“It was an appalling error of judgement on the part of the editorial team.”
The statement also claimed that the segment also reinforces the idea that women are simply “vessels” and that childbirth is “done to women”.
Meanwhile, AIMS Ireland chair Krysia Lynch explained that the segment reinforced stereotypes of childbirth:
“It reinforces stereotypical imagery that birthing people should lie on their backs (something research has told us is not good for mother or baby) and should be coached into holding their breath and forced pushing (again something research has told us is not the best option for mother or baby).”
RTÉ is yet to comment on the statement.