My view is a side of termination that most people are not aware of and until you are in the situation it doesn’t cross your mind. Please take time to read our stories and consider why abortion should be legalised in Ireland.
I had always been someone who said I would never have an abortion. Unfortunately I didn’t know what lay ahead of me. I was with my husband for 10 years when we decided it was time to have children. Much to our delight after 10 months I finally fell pregnant. I did everything right. I took care of myself, took pregnancy vitamins, folic acid etc all the time I was trying to conceive. My bump grew and I began to feel my lovely baby kick me and move about. I finally received my appointment for my first scan at 22 weeks on Christmas week in 2010 and then everything changed.
When I had my scan I was told that my beautiful daughter had a condition called anencephaly. This is a neural tube defect which meant part of her brain and skull hadn’t formed properly, while everything else had grown perfectly normal. The short of it was that our daughter had no hope of surviving and would die without a doubt. If she survived the pregnancy she would probably die at birth or within a few hours.
To say we were heartbroken is an understatement. We were told in Ireland, I had to carry my baby full term. I was told I would not be bought in early (in fact I would be let go two weeks over). I would not be given a C-section and I would have to go through the labour. Alternatively, I could travel to the UK to terminate our pregnancy.
How would I cope emotionally? How could I keep growing day-by-day and feel this baby inside me? How would I deal with the questions from well-meaning people – when is your baby due etc? How could I watch my perfect baby struggle and die in my arms? After much deliberation, I felt it would be too difficult to continue with the pregnancy knowing our daughter was going to die and opted for a termination in the UK the day before New Year’s Eve in 2010, at 24 weeks pregnant.
Because of our laws, I was not allowed to receive any help from the hospital here. I was given one recommendation of a well-known UK clinic and we went with this. I was treated so coldly. They had no understanding that I didn’t want to terminate this pregnancy. I wanted this baby so much, but she was going to die. No medical intervention could prevent this. It was the most difficult thing in my life. I had to leave my home, my comfortable surroundings and travel to a strange country. I was under time pressure because of how far along I was because it took so long to get scanned.
The clinic had a policy of not allowing me to see the baby. This is something I have lived with and regretted since. I have found it very hard to cope with the fact that I wasn’t allowed to see my daughter when I know so many other women who used other clinics were allowed to see their babies. This situation was difficult enough to cope with, without having the added problems of travelling to the UK. I had to leave my own local hospital where I felt safe, where I knew I could be looked after.
I had horrible, cold care in the UK. If my labour was induced early in my local hospital, I knew I would have been safe. On the advice of the clinic, I was told I could book flights home for the same day of the termination. I have since been told that this was very dangerous to travel after a surgical abortion at 24-weeks gestation following a general anaesthetic. Again, something that should not have been an issue if my hospital were allowed to induce my labour early.
Had I been allowed to stay here I would not have had the health risk of flying home. I could have had all my family around me. I could have had my own comforts. I could have seen my lovely daughter and buried her close to me. Now, I will never know what she looked like and I have no place to visit her.
I have tears streaming down my face as I write this because it truly was the most hurtful thing I have ever had to do in my life. I felt I could not tell most people the truth in case I was judged. I felt wrong and dirty for travelling abroad. I felt like I was ‘getting rid’ as so many people put it, of my baby. She was my much-longed-for and loved daughter. Even though I had not met her, I had her life planned from the day I found out I was pregnant. I had hopes and dreams for her and for our family life together. To cope with all that being snatched away was difficult enough, without my own health system turning their back on me.
Thankfully, one year and two months on, I now have a beautiful newborn baby boy whom I cherish. I think it’s absolutely imperative that abortion be legalised in Ireland particular where a woman’s life is at risk AND where there is no hope of the baby surviving. It is not humane to ask a woman to carry her baby (for me for at least another 14 weeks) when you know the outcome is death. It’s time for change – the majority of people fighting against legislation have not had the experience I have had, and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy